Kamairicha is the type of Japanese green tea made by pan-frying in a pan. This pan-frying process plays the same role as the steaming process conducted for most types of Japanese green tea. It means that these processes are necessary for the manufacturing of green tea to deactivate the enzyme which oxidizes the tea leaves. However, it is sometimes considered that the heat from the pan deactivates the enzyme in Kamairicha, but the truth is that the steam produced from the tea leaves during the pan-frying process deactivates the enzyme. Therefore it is important to keep the steam (namely water content) as much as possible while pan-frying the tea leaves. Basically it is the same as general Japanese green teas for which the steam deactivates the enzyme. Thanks to both the pan-frying and steaming processes, the Japanese green tea is not fermented and its green color is maintained. This is the main difference to other tea types such as black tea and oolong tea. Black tea and oolong tea are just left to dry, and during this period, tea leaves are fermented and the color changes black or brown.
As well as the manufacturing methods, Kamairicha is different to the other Japanese tea types in its shape. Due to the pan-frying, Kamairicha’s tea leaves are curled, while the other Japanese tea types have straight needle-like shape or powder form. However some Kamairicha leaves are massaged (or rolled) after pan-frying. This process is to straighten the curled tea leaves, and this type of tea is called Kamanobicha.
Generally, the color of Japanese tea drink is green but that of Kamairicha is reddish yellow. The taste of Kamairicha is light and refreshing and the tea has a distinctive aroma of the iron pan. For this reason, you can enjoy many cups of Kamairicha, and its taste changes as you drink many cups. To make tea drinks with Kamairicha, use hot water of which temperature is 80~90℃.
Kamairicha was historically developed in China in the 8th century and introduced to Kyushu region of Japan in the 15th century. Then it spread to the rest of Japan. Nowadays, the Japanese tea is dominated by steamed tea, so Kamairicha ‘s production is not so big. Therefore the tea is usually produced manually. The main areas to produce Kamairicha are Miyazaki, Saga and Kumamoto of the Kyushu region. Especially, Saga’s Ureshino is known as the original place of Kamairicha manufacturing in Japan. The Kamairicha from Takachiho of Miyazaki is also a popular brand known as Takachiho Kamairicha.