The national production of Kabusecha is 3,303 tons in 2020, of which Mie prefecture's production is 2,235 tons, accounting for an overwhelming share of 67.7%. The residents of Mie prefecture are proud of it.
Kabusecha is grown by covering good quality shoots with a black cover for about two weeks. It blocks from direct sunlight, suppresses the production of catechins that cause astringency, and leaves theanine, which is an umami ingredient. Witha gentle taste, men and women regardless of age like it.
Suizawa-cho has four conditions for growing high-quality tea leaves.
① The climate is warm and moderate precipitation throughout the year.
②Well-drained gravel soil.
③ The temperature difference between day and night is large.
④ The altitude is high.
"Marushige Shimizu Tea company", produce Kabusecha in Suizawa-cho, not only is involved in the cultivation, tea making, and sales of tea leaves, but also holds an event at Nihombashi, Tokyo, in cooperation with local tea farmers. With a variety of approaches, they are popularizing Kabusecha to the world.
Many people visit the "Kabusecha Cafe" run by the company. Here, it also connects the community, such as offering matcha sweets made by fellow matcha farmers.
I want as many people as possible to know the attractions of Kabusecha!
When you enter the cafe, Kana Shimizu, who is owner of the cafe, welcomes you with a cheerful smile.
The cafe has renovated from the old folk house, built more than 70 years ago where Kana was born and raised.
The floor plan of the "rice field（Chinese character 「田」）", which is rare at this time, well used furniture, and the wide veranda stirs up nostalgia. In other words, everyone will imagine the countryside of Japan, when they visit the cafe.
▲Inside view of a cafe utilizing an old folk house built over 70 years ago
Mrs.Shimizu: It's an old house for me, but young people feel "emotional "and tag and post it as a fashionable cafe on Instagram.
She talked with smile. I asked her what Kabusecha meant to her.
Mrs.Shimizu: Since l was born and raised at matcha farmer, I have been helping with harvesting since childhood. Kabusecha was a natural part of my daily life. Only after leaving Mie prefecture to go on to college, I realized the attractions of Kabusecha. And I wanted more people to know.
The reason she thought so strongly was her friends in Tokyo didn't even knew that Mie prefecture was one of the leading Japanese tea producing areas in Japan, let alone Kabusecha.
The scenery of the matcha farms, the activities of the tea farmers, and the taste of Kabusecha, which I took for granted, were not everyday life for people outside the region.
At the age of 25, she returned home for marriage. Since then, her father, mother, husband, and sister, five family members have joined forces to grow tea, manufacture and sell products.
Then, she was searching for a job that she could do besides raising children about 11 years ago. She wondered if she could make use of her experience and know-how when she helped open the Japanese tea cafe when she was in Tokyo.
Mrs.Shimizu: I would be happy if as many people as possible could easily learn about the attractions of Kabusecha at the cafe.
They grow about 10 varieties tea, and tea is made of a single field and a single variety of "single origin". she does not blend multiple varieties like Japanese tea that is generally available.
▲Tea leavesmade of "single origin"
Mrs. Shimizu: When people taste Japanese tea, many of them imagine the taste of Yabukita, which is a typical variety. Many people enjoy drinking and comparing by production area, but the varieties are hardly conscious. We hope that you will enjoy the differences of tastes and aromas like coffee, depending on the variety and cultivation method, and get to know the attraction of tea.
What are the characteristics of varieties other than "Yabukita" sold at single origin?
"Saeakari" ... It has a sweet scent like boiled corn, and it is a relatively new variety, so you can feel its rarity.
"Tsuyuhikari" ... Sweet at first, and a gentle astringency after drinking.
"Saemidori" ... Popular in recent years for its bright green color and deep richness.
"Soufuu" ... After drinking, there is a slight floral scent. Kabusecha of this variety is rare.
"Terakawawase" ... A rare variety that has a gentle taste and is easy for children to drink.
She proposes a new way of tasting Kabusecha to savor the difference in taste of these various varieties. Of course, you can also savor various varieties of tea leaves at her cafe, and you can slowly hear the attractions of Kabusecha from Mrs. Shimizu.
Kabusecha speaks words of wisdom "Let it be"
After entering the cafe, take a seat and order the "Ochazen". You can choose your favorite tea leaves and enjoy tea and tea sweets.
▲It is also comfortable for you to pour hot water into the Kyusu.
Just watching the dried tea leaves absorbing hot water and turning bright green will heal your mind.
▲Enjoying the changing appearance of tea leaves by sucking hot water
Mrs.Shimizu: Recently, many people, especially the younger generation, they don't have a teapot, so they enjoy brewing tea themselves as special experience.
▲Making tea calms the mind
The first cup has a taste with a gentle sweetness and deep umami. The expression Kanro（甘露: means sweet and tasty）fits nicely.
After the second cup, it is brewed with hot water（90℃）, but you feel more astringent than the first cup. This is close to the taste of Sencha that you are used to.
The third cup is a fragrant chazuke with cubic rice crackers, and the end is to eat sprinkling ponzu sauce on the tea leaves.
▲a chazuke with cubic rice crackers tasting a pleasant saltiness and aroma
You can savor all of Kabusecha all through Ochazen, and it gives you an opportunity to know how to enjoy it in your own way.
Gyokuro, which is prized as a high-class product, tends to be strongly particular about the brewing method such as the extraction temperature, but Kabusecha has a"roughness" that allows for different tastes depending on the temperature and various ways of enjoying it.
Mrs.Shimizu: People like tea for each their own, so please enjoy it for each way.
I thought that Kabusecha was somewhat similar to her, who keep it casual up to each person's different tastes.
The summer-special menu "Tea Farmer's Shaved Ice" (two types of tea, Kabusecha or Hojicha), which has a pleasant flavor and umami of handmade tea syrup and the sweetness of red bean paste and shiratama (white rice balls), is also popular.
A change of pace exists in countryside of Japan
▲The summer-special menu Shaved ice from a tea farmer. The refreshing feeling of Kabusecha is irresistible.
You may realize that the everyday for the local people is the attractive"unusual" for the people outside the area. That’s what’s good about this cafe, that it makes.
From April to May, which is the time for new tea, events such as hand-picking shoots and tasting tea leaf tempura are also held in the tea farms. Furthermore, this year, many people will be able to enjoy the attractions of Kabusecha throughthe "daily life" of tea farmers, such as shipping branches with shoots so that they can enjoy tea-picking experience at home. We are also making new efforts to convey to many peopele.
In November of last year, Yokkaichi city government created the "Chazanami-Square" in a place that overlooks the tea farms over the area, a little further west from the cafe. The everyday that nurture "the best Kabusecha in Japan" is beginning to be recognized as a valuable tourism resource.
Enjoy Kabusecha at the cafe where you can fully enjoy the "countryside of Japan" and admire the scenic beauty of the tea plantations that nurture it. It’s irreplaceable attractions of enjoying the real thing locally.
〒512-1105 998 Suizawa-cho, Yokkaichi city, Mie prefecture.
Covering day: August 12,2021
Written：Junya Aso (WEB MAGAZINE OTONAMIE)
This article is a translation and reprint of the content created by the project of Departmentof Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Mie Prefectural Government.
Original article: https://www.sato.pref.mie.lg.jp/feature_news/