History of Kagoshima Tea
About the history of Kagoshima Tea....there are 2 hearsays about the origin of it.
1. The first is a hearsay that said, in 1186 (Kamakura Period/鎌倉時代), the samurai of Heike(平家) planted teas in Hioki city(日置市), the southern place in Kagoshima, after they defeated in war.
2．The second is, the chief priest of Hanwaji temple (般若寺, where is in Yoshi Matsu-cho 吉松町, Aira city 姶良市) brought back tea seeds from Uji, Kyoto, and taught his apprentices how to plant teas. This become the oldest record of Kagoshima tea.
・In 1614-1617 (Edo Period 江戸時代), the annual tax system was started. Citizen need to pay tea as tribute to the government every year.
・In 1688 (Edo Period), the big tea tree in Makizono, Kirishima, in the northern place of Kagoshima started to became famous in this times. Even until now, this tree in Kirishima is still very famous in Japan.
▼The photo below is famous and the oldest tea tree in Kirishima.
・In 1824 (Edo Period), the feudal lord in Kagoshima, Narinobu Shimatsu (島津斉宣), likes the smell of sencha very much, so he started to reward the citizen who plant teas.
・In 1883 (Meiji Period 明治時代), the production of tea in Kagoshima was only accounts 4%.
・In 1939 (Syowa Period昭和時代), the state-run seed stock farms were built in Kagoshima Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture and Nara Prefecture.
・In 1952 (Syowa Period), after the World War II, tea industry became awakening. The production of Kagoshima tea also increased by 20% in Japan and became the second largest producer of tea within Japan.
▼The graph below is the production of different varieties of tea in Kagoshima. (in units of 1,000 square meters)
The most representative variety in Kagoshima is called: Yutaka Midori (ゆたかみどり). The cultivated area in the whole Japan is 2,528,000 square meters. The cultivated area in Kagoshima is 2,403,000 square meters. It accounted 95.06% of the whole cultivated area in Japan.
Tea farms in Kagoshima are mainly built in flat terrain, so it is convenient for machine plucking and other works. Because of the flat terrain, the management of tea farm become easier and the cost can be reduced.
▼The photo is a tea plucking machine.
In Meiji Period, to became a stronger country, Japan started to learn the latest technology and cultures aboard. And to earn more foreign currency, silk and tea became to the 2 most important exportations at that time.
People started to cultivar a large number of sencha. But customers aboard thought the color of green tea looks unnatural, so they started to built many green teas manufactures associations and manufacture the real high-quality teas.
Because the highest economic worth green tea is first flush tea, to increase the value of second flush tea, people started to made them into black tea. At that time, lots of black tea learning centers were built, and Kagoshima Prefecture also became the largest producer of black tea.
▼The photo below is the main tea producing area in Kagoshima.