Cha means (green) tea in Japanese. Usually one says ocha to put a sort of importance (importance being the “o”). Chiran is the small town I lived in for two years in Kagoshima, Japan. My introduction to Japan and where I began as a baby in a country and culture I knew little about. Luckily for me, I ended up in one of the best regions for ocha. So “Chirancha” refers to the cha that is grown in Chiran. For me, Chirancha has become a delicacy and a treasure in my everyday life. It’s not easy to come by but when I can get it, I am instantly transported to a few years ago in the countryside. As I poured the steaming hot water in my kyusu (teapot), I could smell the fragrance that lifted me out of Buenos Aires and into Chiran, on my bicycle in the tea fields. That smell when the tea is being harvested that fills the hillsides and accumulates when you prepare yourself a cup of tea.
I was thinking about the hills of Temino where the slighly cooler temperature makes the finest tea. When you are driving on the windy road in Temino, you look at the hills surrounding you with the vast tea fields and feel like you could just as well be in the Ceylon fields of Sri Lanka. Further south, going through the flat area of Matsuyama, a magnificent view of the dormant volcano, Kaimon, along the south China sea with never ending stretches of tea fields gives you a view that you can never quite get out of your mind.