Discover the Rich Flavors of Kagoshima Matcha: A Taste of Japan

Matcha is a prime example of Japan's apologetic culture developed by Sen no Rikyu.It is also known as a super food with health benefits. The catechins in matcha have an antiviral effect, and theanine has been reported to have a relaxing effect. For today's busy people, a moment with a cup of matcha tea is very precious.

Uji in Kyoto, Shizuoka, and Nishio in Aichi are the most famous matcha-producing areas in Japan, but this time we will talk about matcha and green tea in Kagoshima, located in the south of Japan. If you are interested in matcha and green tea in Kagoshima, please take a look!

What is the difference between matcha and green tea?

To understand Kagoshima's tea, it is important to first understand the difference between matcha and green tea. Matcha is classified as one type of green tea.

The different types of green tea can be subdivided into matcha, sencha, gyokuro, hojicha, etc. The raw materials are the same, but the names vary depending on the method of production and use.

The difference between matcha and sencha is explained in this article, since sencha is commonly used to refer to "green tea. There are four main differences between them.

1) Manufacturing Process

Sencha: Sencha is tea leaves grown without sunlight. After the tea leaves are harvested and steamed, they undergo a process of rubbing and drying before being produced. Growing in full sunlight transforms the theanine in the tea leaves into catechins, which is why Sencha is characterized by its high catechin content. Catechins have been reported to have antioxidant and body fat reduction effects. It is slightly more astringent than matcha.

Matcha: Matcha tea leaves are grown and harvested by covering the sprouts with a shade net, then steamed, dried, and finally finely ground on a stone mortar. During this process, the tea leaves are completely ground into a powder. Because the tea leaves are shielded from sunlight, the theanine in the tea leaves is not converted into catechins, and the tea is characterized by its high theanine content. Since theanine is a flavor component, it can be said that theanine is easily perceived as tasty and sweet.

(2) Shape:

Sencha: Sencha leaves are usually small and round. It is used in a standard tea bag, tea utensil or teapot.

Matcha: Matcha is a finely ground powdered tea leaf that is easily soluble in water.


Sencha: Sencha is usually brewed with hot water and drunk. The tea leaves are not directly drunk, but are poured into a teapot and hot water is poured over the leaves to extract the tea. The tea is then poured into a teacup and enjoyed.

Matcha: Matcha is mostly served in a tea bowl, mixed with hot water and whisked with a chasen. It is used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but nowadays it is also used in matcha lattes and sweets.

4) Taste and Aroma:

Sencha: Sencha has a soft and refreshing flavor, which varies depending on the type of tea leaves and the region where it is grown.

Matcha: Matcha is rich and flavorful, with a characteristic bitterness. The flavor is very concentrated.

Matcha and sencha have the same raw materials (tea leaves) but different names for the different methods of production and use. The world of tea is very deep because the taste, aroma, and mouthfeel change depending on the way it is exposed to sunlight and the grinding process on a millstone.

Characteristics of Kagoshima matcha and green tea

Kagoshima teas are characterized by a well-balanced taste of sweetness and astringency due to the production of catechins, an astringent component, stimulated by abundant sunlight, and theanine, which is increased by shading the tea before picking. Kagoshima is a warm region, but there are also high altitude areas where tea is produced according to the region. The flavor of Kagoshima tea differs depending on the area of production, with aromatic tea grown in the high-cool areas and flavorful tea grown on the plains in abundant sunlight.

Kagoshima boasts the top level of tea production in Japan. Shizuoka had held the No. 1 position in Japan in terms of production, but in 2019, for the first time, it became the No. 1 producer in Japan in terms of output. This is due to the introduction of machinery to take advantage of the vast land and efficient tea production. Consumers are happy to see Kagoshima's delicious tea becoming more widely produced.

History of Kagoshima Matcha

There are various theories about the beginning of the history of tea in Kagoshima. Some say that it was brought to Kagoshima in the early Kamakura period (1185-1333) by a fallen member of the Heike clan, while others say that a temple priest from Uji in 1320 began growing matcha at his temple.

In the Edo period (1603-1867), the Satsuma clan encouraged the cultivation of tea, and it came to be grown throughout the clan. The main production area was in the northern part of Kagoshima Prefecture, from Akune to Yoshimatsu, and tea was mainly grown between rice paddies and along the hedges of residences. At that time, the sale of tea was a monopoly of the clan, and a tribute was levied on it just like rice.

After the opening of Japan to the outside world in 1854, the cultivation of tea leaves for export gradually flourished, and many tea plantations were cultivated, especially in the southern part of the Satsuma Peninsula and near Soo City. In the early Meiji period (1868-1912), low-quality and inferior products were distributed, causing problems, but in 1887, the Kagoshima Prefecture Tea Industry Association was formed to improve the quality of tea.

Around 1965, the production of green tea was seriously increased, but Kagoshima tea was not well-known and was not accepted in the market on its own. Kagoshima tea was blended with Shizuoka tea, which was well known at the time.

In recent years, the Kagoshima Tea Producers Association has launched the "Clean Kagoshima Tea Production Campaign," and the brand name "Kagoshima Tea" has come to be used. In particular, the Kagoshima tea symbol was registered as a trademark and is now displayed on teas that meet quality standards.

Since the 2000s, the industry has grown to become one of Japan's top tea-producing regions, with production volume and cultivation area expanding to meet demand for beverages in PET bottles. Kagoshima's matcha and green tea is in the process of being offered to the world, as we are also focusing on exports.

Three main types of Kagoshima tea

There are several tea production areas in Kagoshima Prefecture, and we would like to introduce three main production areas.

Chiran tea 知覧茶: Natural flavor produced by the vast land

Chirancha is a tea produced in and around the town of Chiran in Minami-Kyushu. The tea leaves grown on the vast land and in the mild climate give you a sense of the rich blessings of nature.

The main type of such Chirancha is "deep-rooted tea," which is made by steaming tea leaves for a longer period of time. The steeping time of ordinary sencha is 30 to 40 seconds, but Chirancha is steamed for 60 to 80 seconds. Steeping for almost double the time of ordinary sencha stops the oxidation of tea leaves and suppresses the green smell of the raw leaves. It has a strong flavor with a low level of astringency, and is characterized by its dark green color and mild richness.

Kirishima tea 霧島茶: Refreshing flavor nurtured by deep fog

Kirishima" is a combination of the words "fog" and "island". As the name suggests, Kirishima tea is located next to a mountain where fog tends to form. The environment necessary for tea production, such as clean air, clear and high-quality water, and large temperature differences, are all in place. The tea grown and produced in these favorable conditions has a clean aroma and fresh taste.

Tanegashima Island tea 種子島茶: Elegant aroma created by the sea breeze of a remote island

Tanegashima is one of the remote islands in Kagoshima Prefecture. Tanegashima tea is produced on an island surrounded by the sea, an environment where morning mist is created by the sea breeze, and it grows in an abundance of minerals and negative ions. In order to bring out the aroma and characteristics of the variety of tea leaves, the tea is usually made using the "shallow steaming" method. The steeping time is 10 to 30 seconds, which is shorter than usual. It can be said that this tea has a refreshing taste and elegant aroma!

Kagoshima matcha meets the highest organic standards in Japan

One of the characteristics of Kagoshima matcha is that it has the largest area of tea cultivated at safe and secure organic JAS-certified tea gardens in Japan (47% of all tea cultivated in Japan, with Shizuoka in second place at 16%). Organic JAS certification is a system that regulates the use of agricultural chemicals and can only be obtained by farms that meet specific conditions. The conditions are as follows.

No prohibited agricultural chemicals or chemical fertilizers must have been used on the farm for at least two years prior to the start of cultivation.No use of prohibited pesticides or chemical fertilizers during cultivation.No scattering or contamination of prohibited materials such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers in the field, facilities, and tools.

The above are just a few examples of the strict standards that have been established for seeds, seedlings, fertilizers, pest control, and so on. As for the current status of tea cultivation in Kagoshima, the area of tea plantations that have acquired organic JAS certification has increased by 40% compared to FY2005. If you want to enjoy healthy, wholesome, and delicious matcha and green tea, we recommend that you choose Kagoshima-grown tea!

How to taste Kagoshima matcha

There are many menus that incorporate matcha, but we would like to introduce how to taste matcha.

Iced Matcha Latte

First, an iced matcha latte. As you probably already know, the bitterness and sweetness of matcha match best in this drink. It is perfect for taking a break from work or taking a breather on a holiday, as it has a relaxing effect!

Iced Matcha

Matcha is often associated with hot water, but cold tea is also delicious. On hot summer days, tasting cold matcha is also recommended.

How to make Matcha tea

If you want to make your own Matcha, please refer to this video, which explains in 1 minute and is very easy to understand.