I just returned from the region of Ishitobi in Kumamoto, awestruck by the power of nature and endurance in teas from the region.
Ishitobi is about 600m above sea level, surrounded by the mountains of the similar height. Fog envelopes the area in the morning giving the air a time to wake up slowly. Temperature is lower than the area by the water. Teas here grow slower than average, allowing each leave to store enough nutrients for a healthy growth slowly. Large part of the tea plants here are naturalized... meaning, they were planted at the turn of the century here and multiplied by seeds not by the current dominating method of cutting.
Just a handful of passionate tea farmers still nurture these naturalized plants. I woke up this morning at 5:30, walk through the farm, and took some photos of what caught my eyes. Although I am an acrophobic, I was totally fascinated by the beautiful geometrically evenly woven spiders’ webs on the tea plants. They were just so beautiful, but, then the tea farmer told me that these are a tiny guardian of the tea plants protects the plants by capturing the pests.
Series of dainty and beautiful wild flowers are the witness to the minimal exposure to harmful chemicals. Morning haze is a natural sunscreen. Slightly high altitude brings cooler environment than the area by the bay, allows slow growth.
Well, this unique characteristics of slow growth and the voracious extraction of nutrient from the earth from the roots grown so deep in to the soil, allow plants to have much more depth and richness to the teas made with them. I see extraordinary potential in teas from this region.