Kagoshima Asanoka Fukamushi Sencha (鹿児島あさのか深蒸し煎茶) is a Japanese green tea that undergoes ‘deep steaming’, a process that imparts a character that is more complex and sweeter than other conventional sencha teas. Grown in Kagoshima City of Kagoshima Prefecture, it is made from he unusual Asanoka (あさのか) cultivar. It is also a partially shaded tea (similar to gyokuro) that is shaded for 5 days prior to plucking to concentrate the flavour in the leaves. We source this tea via a specialist tea merchant in Shizuoka. This batch was harvested on 7 April 2021.
The uniqueness of this tea lies in the use of the uncommon Asanoka cultivar, registered in 1996. This cultivar was developed by crossing Yabukita and a Chinese green tea cultivar and is still mostly grown around Kagoshima Prefecture. Green tea made from the Asanoka cultivar tends to be more aromatic, while delivering a richer and more savoury liquor with balanced sweetness. This particular tea is also roasted a little stronger, making the taste more appealing.
This Kagoshima Asanoka Fukamushi Sencha, like most of Japanese green teas, is steamed rather than pan roasted. However it is rather more special as it undergoes a lengthier steaming processes, referred to as deep steaming. In Japanese, fukamushi (深蒸し) means ‘deep steamed’ as the tea is steamed for 1-2 minutes as opposed to the usual futsuumushi (普通蒸し) steaming, which is only 30 seconds to 1 minute. There is also an even lighter version that is called asamushi (浅蒸し) or ‘light steamed’ tea, which undergoes steaming for less than 30 seconds. Even though gyokuro, kabusecha and even bancha can be deep steamed, it is usually sencha that undergoes such treatment. Therefore ‘fukamushicha’ will usually refer to a deep steamed sencha.
This longer steaming process makes quite a big difference to the flavour of the tea. It diminishes the astringency and increases sweetness, resulting in a good balance between the classic umami depth and a pleasing sweet aftertaste. The steaming process makes the tea leaves very soft, so during the next processing stage, which is rolling, the leaves and tips can often break. This results in variable leaf size, with many very small broken leaf fragments. It can appear like a low-quality sencha, but the reality is completely the opposite as it the result of the specialised deep steaming process.
When brewed, fukamushicha also has a stronger, more vibrant, green color, with a cloudy liquor and sediment visible. There are Japanese teapots specifically designed for brewing fukamushicha, which have a finer brewing mesh with a larger surface area so that it doesn’t get clogged with the fine tea particles. We recommend using a very fine mesh infuser if you have one. On the plus side, having fine particles in your tea can increase the health benefits, as you will be consuming more leaves (and their catechins, fibre, vitamins, and chlorophyll), very much akin to matcha drinking!
Kagoshima Asanoka Fukamushi Sencha has a very fine, small leaf with a fresh, green, grassy and vegetal aroma. It produces a cloudy green liquor with a grassy and lightly toasty aroma. The smooth taste is sweet and savoury, nicely balanced between the two. The overall vegetal profile has creamy, toasty and grassy notes. Further tasting notes include fresh asparagus, nori seaweed and yuzu peel. The aftertaste is lasting and refreshing with a grassy and savoury edge. The yuzu citrus notes are particularly evident on the aftertaste. This is a nicely balanced tea with a complex but approachable character.
It is best brewed at 70°C for around 2 minutes, with multiple infusions. For best results use a special Fukamushi tea pot or other brewing vessel with a very fine mesh filter. Our Samadoyo infuser mugs with the steel infuser do a pretty good job at filtering this type of tea.
Kagoshima Asanoka Fukamushi Sencha green tea was featured in our September 2021 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.