By train, I am just an hour away from the city of Kyoto, in the Wazuka area. This part of Japan, ringed by mountains, has grown high-quality tea for over 800 years, acquiring real status as one of the most coveted and respected teas in the country.
The different varieties of tea – over 300 – to be found here are convincing proof of how well suited this area is for tea growing. The extremely limited presence of humans is likely to have led to the ideal environmental conditions for this crop. As a result, the absence of large urban areas means that, even today, we can enjoy the purity of the air, the water and the soil.
Contrary to what the neophyte might think, despite the large sizes of the plantations, the harvest is much smaller than the potential of this region. This constraint on the amounts collected is due to the fact that the pickers carefully select the leaves located towards the top of the plants.
I am absorbed in my thoughts when, suddenly, it starts raining. Immediately, to stay dry, we quickly go to the factory where the harvested leaves are dried.
In this area, the tea is prepared in keeping with a unique process known as “Kama Iri” or “cooking in the pot”, consisting of heating the pot with a full flame and then, immediately afterwards, placing the leaves in it, stirring them constantly so that they do not burn.
Once the boiling process is completed, the leaves are pressed to remove all the water from them and then they are put back in the pot so that they dry completely. Thus, as a result of this process, which begins in the fields and ends with this slow cooking process, we obtain the Kama Iri Sencha, one of the most popular green teas.