Kagoshima Prefecture is located on the south end of the southern island of Kyushu in Japan. Since it is located so far south, the weather is warmer, and as a result tea harvests early compared with other Japanese growing regions. Not too long ago, Kagoshima had a reputation for producing inexpensive, commodity teas. In the past 10 years, Kagoshima has shed this reputation by not only improving quality, but through experimentation. I see a wider range of cultivar and processing style coming from Kagoshima compared to other growing regions such as Yame, Uji, and Shizuoka, which tend to follow tradition.
The freshness is evident in the vivid green cup color. It is a blend of yabukita and saemidori cultivars. Yabukita brings complexity, while saemidori gives it umami richness. Our Kagoshima Sencha isn’t a true lightly-steamed (asamushi) sencha, nor is it a medium-steamed (chumushi) sencha, it falls somewhere in between. As a result it has a bittersweetness to it, but leans more towards the sweet end of that spectrum. The flavor is layered with fresh green flavors, accented by notes of toasted sesame seed. A fruity sweetness ends with a long, lingering finish.
This is an extremely versatile tea and different preparation methods will yield different flavor profiles. My favorite way to steep it is to use an 8 oz kyusu, and 6 or 7 grams of tea in 160º F water for 60-90 seconds. The second infusion should be around 20-30seconds. Increasing the water temperature to 170°F will boost the complexity, and increase the bittersweet character.