"Izumi" is a rare cultivar that is rarely encountered and is often referred to as a mythical cultivar.
However, its taste is outstanding. It has a distinctly different aroma from other cultivars, and once you drink it, you will never forget it. Here is an introduction to such a cultivar "Izumi".
A very rare "mythical cultivar"
"Izumi" has "Benihomare", a black tea cultivar, as its mother, and was originally created as a cultivar for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea). This cultivar is also called "mythical cultivar" and it is said that only a few farmers are growing "Izumi" nowadays.
The reason for this is that right after the cultivar was born, the demand for Kamairicha for export declined drastically, and as a result, it did not spread to farmers and was half-forgotten.
However, the taste is extraordinary. Its aroma is so gorgeous that once you have tasted it, you will never forget it.
Because it is such a rare cultivar, it is rare for us to encounter "Izumi," and if we have the opportunity to drink it, our hearts would beat wildly with anticipation. It is such a special and delicious cultivar.
Characteristics of "Izumi"
A very rare cultivar for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea)
As mentioned above, "Izumi" was originally bred as a Kamairichia(kettle roasted tea) cultivar for export. There are only 6 cultivars for Kamairicha(kettle roast tea) out of the 119 registered cultivars, and they are very rare.
In the 1950s and 1960s, tea exports were very active, and many teas were produced for overseas consumption, so "Izumi" was also a cultivar that was produced to meet the needs of those countries.
Today, it is mainly used for black tea.
"Izumi" was originally made for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea), but after a long time since its birth, it is now very common to see "Izumi" processed into black tea.
It's no wonder." Izumi" has its roots in "Benihomare", a black tea cultivar, which explains why it is highly suitable for black tea.
"Izumi" is highly evaluated in tea contests, and its high quality of taste is widely known.
Low cold tolerance
"Izumi" has an excellent aroma, but it is susceptible to cold weather.
It is difficult to grow in mountainous areas or in the northern part of Japan, and most of the farmers we know are in the southern part of Shizuoka Prefecture or in Kyushu.
The "Izumi" is a very rare cultivar. What is its taste like?
Taste of "Izumi"
Tropical aroma like the fruits
When I first tasted "Izumi" black tea, I was surprised by its rich aroma. The aroma of tropical fruits such as mango, orange, and pineapple filled the air, followed by a refreshing minty aroma.
Of course, the flavor varies depending on the region and farmer, but the gorgeous aroma is common. It has a mellow aroma that is attractive in a way that other cultivars have never tasted.
The astringent taste is light, and its refreshing taste is one of its charms.
There are only a few farmers in Japan who grow "Izumi". The production of "Izumi" is quite limited, and it is literally a " mythical" tea. If you ever come across "Izumi" tea, you should try it first.
"Benifuuki" is one of the most common cultivars of "Japanese black tea" that has been attracting more and more attention worldwide in recent years.
We will introduce you to the cultivar "Benifuuki", which is famous as a pollen allergy remedy.
First Japanese cultivar for black tea and semi-fermented tea
We usually drink Japanese black tea from all over Japan, and "Benifuuki" is the one we encounter most often.
In Japan, there are only a few cultivars for black tea, and of the 119 registered cultivars, only 13 are for black tea. Even if we include cultivars for kettle roasted tea and those for green tea but with high quality as black tea, there are only about 20 cultivars.
Among these cultivars, "Benifuuki" has excellent quality as black tea and has contributed greatly to the quality improvement of Japanese black tea. We will introduce the characteristics of "Benifuuki", the most popular black tea cultivar in Japan.
Characteristics of "Benifuuki"
A cultivar descended from the Assam variety.
"Benifuuki" is a cultivar for black tea and semi-fermented tea. Its mother is "Benihomare", a Japanese black tea variety, and its father is a variety from India.
While almost all tea cultivars produced in Japan are Chinese species, this cultivar, which is descended from Assam species, is characterized by its extremely high quality when processed into black tea.
Cold- and disease-resistant, made for the Japanese climate.
As the first black tea cultivar produced in Japan, this cultivar is naturally designed to be easy to grow in the Japanese climate.
Because of the characteristics of the Assam cultivar, which is originally produced in warmer regions, it can be grown in most areas west of the Tokai region, although its cold tolerance is a little lower.
Because of its high disease resistance, this cultivar is easy to grow even without pesticides.
Tea for preventing hay fever
One of the reasons why "Benifuuki" has become famous is because of its effectiveness in combating hay fever.
"Benifuuki" contains a lot of "methylated catechin" which has an anti-allergic effect, and it has been found that regular consumption of this ingredient can suppress allergic symptoms such as hay fever.
In the 2000s, "Benifuuki" became a well-known cultivar because of its ability to improve hay fever symptoms, for which there is no fundamental cure.
However, the composition of methylated catechins changes when the tea leaves are fermented.
Therefore, it is recommended to drink it as green tea without fermentation. Please note that "Benifuuki" is a black tea cultivar, and if you do not drink it as green tea, it will not be effective in preventing hay fever.
Taste of "Benifuuki"
Rich aroma suitable for black tea
This cultivar, which has the characteristics of the assam variety, produces a large number of aromatic components through fermentation in the tea processing.
The production of indole, linalool, geraniol, and other aroma compounds that most green tea cultivars do not have produces the rich and complex aroma of black tea.
Assam black tea is also characterized by its strong astringent taste (catechins).
Strong astringency unique to black tea
This cultivar is originally intended to be processed into black tea. The catechin (also called tannin), which is the astringent component of tea, tends to be stronger than in ordinary green tea cultivars.
If you drink it as black tea, the astringent taste is not so bothersome, but if you drink it as green tea to prevent hay fever, you may be surprised at the stronger astringeny than normal green tea.
"Benifuuki" is a high quality black tea!
As mentioned above, "Benifuuki" is the first Japanese cultivar for black tea with high quality. If you are looking for a delicious Japanese black tea, why not try "Benifuuki"?
An excellent cultivar for green tea with a strong popularity
"Asatsuyu" is a very old cultivar, registered at the same time as "Yabukita", but it is still very popular today.
Even those of us who drink hundreds of varieties of tea every year are excited when we hear the name "Asatsuyu" because it is such a reliable and delicious cultivar.
Commonly known as "natural gyokuro"
"Asatsuyu" is often referred to as "natural gyokuro" because of its strong umami. Gyokuro is the highest grade of green tea, which is grown under shade for more than 20 days, and has an exceptionally rich umami that is not found in ordinary sencha green tea.
Its name comes from the fact that it has the same umami as gyokuro, which is usually made with a lot of time and effort, but can be made naturally, which clearly shows that it is a cultivar with such a strong umami.
An early-ripening cultivar that does not tolerate cold temperatures.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Asatsuyu" is an early-ripening cultivar that can be picked 7 days earlier, allowing for a wider picking season, which helps reduce the workload of farmers.
However, it is not suitable for cold regions or mountainous areas, as it is susceptible to frost damage because its shoots emerge in the cold season.
Because of its low tolerance to cold and disease, it is only grown in Kyushu and parts of Shizuoka Prefecture, making it a rare cultivar.
It is a privilege to live in such a warm region, but how does "Asatsuyu" taste like?
The taste of "Asatsuyu"
As Asatsuyu is called "natural gyokuro", and its umami is the most important characteristic of "Asatsuyu".
Sencha is a tasty and gentle green tea
As a cultivar with high theanine (amino acid) content and low catechin (an astringent component), "Asatsuyu" has a mild taste with a strong umami.
In order to make the most of its umami, it is sometimes made by Kabuse(shading) or deep steaming, in which case the aroma is weakened.
"Asatsuyu" has no peculiar aroma, and is loved by everyone for its soft, sweet, grain-like flavor.
As mentioned above, "Asatsuyu" is a cultivar with the potential to be called "natural gyokuro". If you ever come across "Asatsuyu", please try it.
Single origin tea is one of the concepts of FETC. The cultivar "Kohshun" has the perfect personality for this single origin tea, which allows you to enjoy the individuality of each cultivar and farmer.
In this article, we will discuss the "Kohshun".
A remarkable aromatic cultivar from Shizuoka!
"Kohshun" is named after the aromatic cultivar produced in Shizuoka (Suruga country).
This cultivar is a crossbreed of "Kurasawa" and "Kanayamidori" and has a unique and attractive aroma, and is attracting attention as a new genre of Japanese tea.
As described below, because of its unique aroma, versatility in processing, and ease of cultivation, it was selected as one of the recommended cultivars by Shizuoka Prefecture in 2001, and farmers all over Japan have high expectations for this new cultivar.
Characteristics of "Kohshun"
A cultivar for single origin teas with a unique character.
"Kohshun" was registered as a cultivar in 2000, and since then it has been gaining market share mainly in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It has a completely different aroma from standard green teas such as "Yabukita" and is therefore unsuitable for blending, but on the other hand, it is good for enjoying a single origin tea with an appealing character.
Not only for Sencha, but also Black teas
"Kohshun", with its distinctive aroma, is suitable not only for sencha, but also for semi-fermented tea and black tea.
When processed into sencha, this cultivar undergoes a process called "wilting," which brings out its gorgeous aroma. Generally, sencha is made without wilting, but since this cultivar has an attractive wilted aroma, it is often made with wilting even in sencha production.
Of course, semi-fermented teas and black teas, which are made with more advanced fermentation than sencha, have more of the unique aroma of "Kohshun" and produce a wonderful aromatic tea.
In recent years, Japanese black tea growers have begun to pay more attention to this cultivar, and it is now being produced in many different regions.
High cold tolerance
Due to its high cold tolerance, "Kohshun" is a suitable cultivar for many tea growing regions in Japan.
It is more suitable for farmers in mountainous areas where its aroma can be used for tea production, and for farmers who have a sales channel for single origin teas.
As mentioned above, "Kohshun" has been highly anticipated all over Japan for its unique aroma and ease of cultivation.
How is the taste like?
The taste of "Kohshun
First and foremost, the aroma!
As we have mentioned many times before, the charm of "Kohshun" is its aroma. It has a refreshing aroma of herbs and jasmine, and the aroma changes little by little as the temperature changes. It is a cultivar that is so appealing that you will want to drink it again and again, as it shows a variety of expressions in a single cup.
It has a good balance of umami and astringency, and its mild taste on the tongue is the reason why it is loved by everyone.
In addition to the fresh aroma mentioned above, "Kohshun" processed into black tea has a fruity aroma like mango, and a green aroma like watermelon and vegetables.
Since this cultivar does not have a lot of astringency, it does not have strong tannins when processed into black tea, and many teas are refreshing and easy to drink.
The flavor of black tea varies greatly depending on the time of year when it is picked (spring, summer, or fall), so it is recommended to enjoy the aroma and flavor that changes with the season.
As described above, "Kohshun" is widely used for sencha, black tea, and semi-fermented teas. It is a cultivar that is sure to have a wide range of applications in the tea industry, so please keep your eyes on it!
"Tsuyuhikari" is a green tea cultivar that has been gaining popularity in recent years.
Let us introduce you to Tsuyu-hikari, which is excellent in every aspect.
Characteristics of Tsuyu Hikari
Shizuoka's star with "Asatsuyu" and "Shizuka 7132" as parents.
"Tsuyuhikari" is made from "Asatsuyu" also known as "natural Gyokuro," which has rich umami, and "Shizu7132," which has a characteristic aroma like cherry leaves.
"Tsuyuhikari" is a hybrid cultivar that combines the best of both "Asatsuyu" and "Shizu7132".
Generally, cultivars with a gorgeous aroma tend to have a strong astringent taste, but "Tsuyuhikari" overturns this theory and is a superb cultivar that combines both umami and aroma!
This cultivar, which was born in Shizuoka Prefecture. in 2001, it was selected as one of the prefectural government's recommended cultivars, and it spread widely in Shizuoka Prefecture.
It is now a popular cultivar throughout Japan for its flavor, and is truly the future of Japanese tea.
"Tsuyuhikari" is used not only for sencha, but also for Kamairicha, semi-fermented tea, and black tea. The "wilting" process brings out its gorgeous aroma and gives the tea a subtle sweetness.
Since it is a cultivar with low astringency, it is often processed into black tea with a light astringency and a clean, easy-to-drink taste.
High disease resistance and cold tolerance
"Tsuyuhikari" is a cultivar that is resistant to disease, pests, and cold, making it suitable for all regions of Japan.
Because of its resistance to cold, it can be grown in mountainous areas and in the northern part of Japan, and many farmers have adopted it because of its ease of cultivation and excellent flavor.
As mentioned above, "Tsuyuhikari" has only advantages, but how is its flavor like?
Taste of "Tsuyuhikari"
The taste varies greatly depending on how it is grown.
The taste of tea varies greatly depending on how it is grown and processed. Especially "Tsuyuhikari", which has two distinct characteristics, umami and aroma, is a cultivar that farmers have different concepts on which of these characteristics to develop.
①Sencha with a rich, nourishing umami
"Tsuyuhikari" is made by covering and deep steaming to maximize its flavor, resulting in a sencha that is truly rich in flavor.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Tsuyuhikari" has a cool, refreshing aroma rather than a green aroma, making it a tea with a strong umami flavor that can be drunk neatly.
It has a bright and beautiful water color, so when it is made with deep steaming, it becomes a beautiful bright dark green water color, which is also one of its charms.
②Sencha with a sweet cherry blossom aroma
"Tsuyuhikari" has a gorgeous aroma of "coumarin," which is reminiscent of cherry leaves. Sencha made with this aroma has a clear, delicious flavor and a sweet cherry blossom aroma that spreads softly.
In mountainous areas, where the sprouts grow softly, the tea is often made by shallow steaming to take advantage of the aroma, and this type of "Tsuyuhikari" tends to be more common.
As described above, no matter which aspect of Tsuyu-hikari you take out, it is excellent. If you like tea, you should definitely try this tea.
When looking for single origin teas, the "Sayamakaori" is often seen. This time, we would like to introduce " Sayamakaori", a cultivar for Sencha (green tea), which is sometimes processed into black tea due to its characteristic aroma.
An "aromatic" green tea cultivar produced in Sayama
"Sayamakaori" is a cultivar produced in the Sayama area of Saitama Prefecture. The name of the cultivar comes from a variety of sources, but cultivars with the word "Kaori" in their name, such as "Fujiedakaori," "Musashikaori," and "Yumekaori," tend to have a distinctive aroma. The "Sayamakaori" also has a fresh, green aroma, hence its name.
Characteristics of "Sayamakaori"
"Sayamakaori" has the following characteristics.
A farmer's best friend with an overwhelming yield!
The most important characteristic of "Sayamakaori" is its high yield. Even if you look at a tea farm, you can tell that it is "Sayamakaori" with a single glance because of the large number of buds.
The number of tea buds varies depending on the cultivar and the way it is grown. Some farmers focus on the number of buds, while others focus on the quality of the buds, and there are many different styles. This cultivar, which yields significantly more than other cultivars when compared on the same acreage, is a great cultivar for farmers, helping them to stabilize their production.
Excellent cold tolerance
Sayama is a relatively cool region among tea growing regions in Japan, and the "Sayamakaori" grown in such an area has a high level of cold tolerance. It can be grown in all regions of Japan, except in very high altitudes, and with the exception of anthracnose, it is resistant to disease and pests, making it a very easy cultivar to grow throughout Japan.
However, its quality in warmer regions is inferior to that of "Yabukita," so it is more commonly found in cooler regions such as the mountainous areas or nothern area than in warmer regions in the south.
A middle-ripening cultivar that can be picked a day or two earlier than "Yabukita".
"Sayamakaori" is a middle-ripening cultivar like "Yabukita", but it is picked a day or two earlier than "Yabukita". The harvesting season for tea is very short, and even if you pick sprouts every day during the first tea season, you may not be able to pick them in time for the best harvesting season. For such busy farmers, being able to stagger the picking time, even by just one day, is very important in terms of reducing the workload on the farm. The "Sayamakaori" has a combination of characteristics that are very attractive to farmers, including yield, cold tolerance, and picking time. How does it taste?
Taste of "Sayamakaori"
Dry aroma like soybean flour and sesame
"Sayamakaori" has a distinctive aroma. Its aroma is much stronger than that of "Yabukita", and some people find it a little peculiar.
In particular, "Sayamakaori" sencha made by "wilting" has a slightly sweet aroma like soybean flour and a savory aroma like roasted sesame seeds, giving it a somewhat dry impression.
Depending on the region of origin, it may also have a fresh herbal-like aroma, giving it a cool, refreshing flavor.
Compared to "Yabukita", "Sayamakaori" is a slightly more astringent cultivar.
Generally, the word "astringency" tends to give a negative impression, but astringency is an important component of the flavor of tea. Astringency adds depth to the flavor and gives it a lingering taste and sharpness.
Well-made "Sayamakaori" sencha has a refreshing astringency, and brewing it at the right temperature allows you to enjoy the taste of astringency.
Not only for Sencha, but also for black tea
"Sayamakaori" is a cultivar suitable for "wilting" and is used not only for sencha but also for black tea. The black tea made from "Sayamakaori" maximizes the aroma of the cultivar and gives a cool, refreshing impression.
Unlike Assam or Ceylon teas, which have a gorgeous, mellow aroma, this tea has a refreshing taste that is typical of Japanese black tea, so if you are interested, please give it a try.
"Sayamakaori" is a very good tea cultivar!
As mentioned above, "Sayamakaori" has many positive aspects for both farmers and consumers. It is a cultivar that we often encounter in our search for single-origin teas, so if you are interested in it, please give it a try!
"Okumidori" is the fourth most widely produced cultivar of green tea in Japan. This time, we would like to introduce this cultivar, which is popular for its powerful flavor and straight aroma without any peculiarities.
A superior cultivar with the fourth largest market share in Japan!
After "Yabukita," "Yutakamidori," and "Saemidori," "Okumidori" is the fourth most widely produced green tea cultivar in Japan. It is rare to find a farmer who does not produce "Okumidori". Every year, we have many opportunities to see this cultivar because it is a very tasty and versatile green tea.
The reason is that "Okumidori" is excellent in every aspect, including taste, aroma, and ease of production. It is a very popular cultivar among farmers and consumers alike.
Characteristics of "Okumidori"
Excellent late-ripening cultivar
"Okumidori" is a late-ripening cultivar that is picked 7 days later than "Yabukita". Many farmers finish the first tea season when picking "Okumidori".
The picking season for tea is very short, and even if you pick sprouts every day during the first tea season, you may not be able to pick them in time for the best harvest.
For such busy farmers, this cultivar, which allows them to pick with a week to spare, is very useful in terms of reducing the workload on the farm.
Incidentally, as the word "Oku" means "late," all cultivars with "Oku" in their names, such as "Okuyutaka" and "Okuharuka," are late-ripening cultivars.
High cold tolerance and easy to grow throughout Japan.
"Okumidori" has high cold tolerance and can be grown in almost all tea-growing regions in Japan. It is susceptible to certain diseases and insect pests, so as long as you take care to use pesticides and other precautions, you can grow this cultivar all over Japan.
As described above, "Okumidori" is an easy-to-grow, valuable late-ripening cultivar that can be grown all over Japan, and it is easy to see why farmers love it.
So, how does "Okumidori" taste?
Taste of "Okumidori"
Rich umami and a fine aroma
The most distinctive characteristic of "Okumidori" is its rich umami.
It does not have a strong astringency or bitterness, and its high amino acid content (theanine) gives it an attractive mild flavor. The aroma has no peculiarities and has a clean scent of green leaves.
The sweetness is brought out by fire-roasting, and roasting aroma can also be added to create a strong, punchy sencha with a powerful flavor. It is one of the most popular teas for both single-origin and combined brews.
Beautiful dark green color
The beautiful light green color is one of the characteristics of "Okumidori". The beauty of this tea is further accentuated when it is grown with Kabuse(shading) or deep steaming, resulting in a tea with an outstandingly beautiful color as a sencha.
In the tea market, where color is important, "Okumidori" is a cultivar that can easily be highly evaluated.
As described above, Okumidori is produced in various regions of Japan and shows various flavors depending on the individuality and ability of the tea grower. Since there are so many cultivars produced in Japan, it is recommended that you compare different varieties depending on their production areas and farmers.
Japan boasts the 10th largest tea production in the world. Although the production volume is not that large, Japanese green tea has enthusiasts worldwide, and the brand power of "Japanese tea" is alive and well worldwide.
Here, we will introduce each prefecture's tea production volume and each production area's characteristics.
Tea producing regions in Japan
In Japan, there are many famous tea producing regions such as Shizuoka Prefecture.
Let's take a look at the production volume of tea in Japan as a whole and by prefecture.
Production volume by prefecture
As of 2014, green tea is grown in 40 Prefectures in Japan.
Green tea cultivars are hard to grow in cold regions, so it is rarely grown in areas further north than Niigata and Ibaraki Prefectures.
Among them, Shizuoka Prefecture has the largest production volume, accounting for about 38% of the total in Japan.
Kagoshima, Mie and Kyoto are other prefectures that produce a lot of green tea.
Green tea planted area by prefecture
As of 2019, Shizuoka has the largest green tea planted area by prefecture.
In Shizuoka, 15,900 hectares of land are devoted to tea cultivation, far ahead of the 2nd place.
Kagoshima Prefecture was ranked the 2nd, and Mie Prefecture the 3rd, and there is basically a proportional relationship between production and planted area.
Characteristics of green tea production in each prefecture
In this section, I will briefly explain the characteristics of green tea production in each prefecture.
As mentioned above, Shizuoka Prefecture is the largest tea producing region in Japan in terms of both production volume and the planted area.
The feature is that there are a lot of lands suitable for producing good qualsity tea.
However, it is also true that problems such as the deterioration of the management of the tea industry and the shortage of successors have been occurring.
Nowadays, in order to overcome this situation, they are trying to use green tea to attract tourists. It is called “green tourism” that combines tourism resources and green tea.
Kagoshima Prefecture is the 2nd largest tea production in Japan and is famous for its tea producing region.
Farmers produce green tea with a wide variety of tastes, such as fragrant tea that takes advantage of the characteristics of the mountainous region, where there is a large difference in temperature between day and night, and tea with a distinct taste grown in the rich sunshine.
The green tea grown in Mie Prefecture is also called “Ise tea” and has a long history of about 1,000 years.
Mie Prefecture played an important role in earning foreign currency by exporting tea from the late Edo period to the early Meiji period.
Today, the production volume of “Kabusecha” which is cultivated by covering the tea plantations, is the largest in Japan.
Miyazaki prefecture has been known as a famous tea production area since the Edo period.
Farmers are actively supporting the tea industry by cultivating the cold-tolerant “Kirari 31” tea cultivar, and by jointly developing a new type of tea processing machine.
The tea produced in Fukuoka Prefecture is characterized by its sweet and deep taste, and is commonly known as “Yame tea”.
Yame's Gyokuro is grown using traditional rice straw, and has won the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Award at the National Tea Fair for 10 consecutive years.
Kyoto is known for its traditional green tea production, but it was ASHIKAGA Yoshimitsu, the 3rd shogun of the Muromachi period, who laid the foundation for this.
It is said that he was attracted by the great taste of Uji tea and opened the famous green tea production area called “Uji Shichimeien”(The seven tea gardens).
In addition, the manufacturing method of Uji tea, which emphasizes quality, has been passed down to modern mechanical green tea production, and is characterized by its production based on the hand-rolling process.
Saitama Prefecture is known as the “Sayama Tea” and is the northernmost region of green tea cultivation.
The characteristic of Sayama tea is that it has a sweet and rich taste when it overcomes the cold winter.
Although it can only be harvested twice a year due to the cold environment, it is attractive because of its excellent quality and storage behavior.
Nara Prefecture is a producing region of “Yamato tea”.
It is said that the cultivation of Yamato tea started in 806, and it has been passed down for about 1,200 years.
Originally, the tea company in Nara mainly produced Sencha (steeped green tea), Kabusecha and Bancha, but in recent years it has also produced “Tencha” which is the raw material of Matcha.
Saga Prefecture is home to Ureshino, a famous tea production area, and boasts the 8th largest production volume in Japan.
Ureshino tea is characterized by its strong aroma and flavor of tea leaves.
At the end of the Edo period, it had exported to the UK in large quantities.
Gifu Prefecture is a producing region of “Mino tea”.
It is characterized by the rich aroma and taste of green tea grown in the blessed environment with many 3,000 meter high mountains.
Today, two major brands are sold: “Mino-Ibi tea” in the west Mino area and “Mino-Shirakawa tea” in the central Mino area.
Saitama Prefecture’s Japanese tea production is about 1% of the domestic production. Saitama is not a prefecture with a large production volume, but ‘Sayama tea’ is one of the three major teas in Japan along with ‘Shizuoka tea’ and ‘Uji tea’ and is also recognized as one of the top production areas of high-quality Japanese tea.
The production in Saitama is small because of its location.
In areas such as Kagoshima Prefecture, where climate and sunshine are favorable, tea can be harvested up to five times a year, while in Saitama, which is a cold region for producing tea, it can only harvest twice a year.
In addition to this, due to the small cultivation area, the amount of tea production has to be small.
History of green tea production in Saitama Prefecture
It is said that the green tea production in Saitama prefecture started in the Kamakura period.
It was triggered by the tea tree planted by the Priest Myoe in Kawagoe.
During the period of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, the green tea from Saitama was popularly known as ‘Kawagoe Tea’ and from around this time, it was known as the tea production area of the eastern provinces.
It was in the late Edo period that tea cultivation started in earnest in Saitama. YOSHIKAWA Yoshizumi and MURANO Morimasa of Miyadera in Iruma City have succeeded in mass-producing of steamed green tea, adopting methods from Uji, Kyoto. Gradually, tea cultivation became popular as a specialty of Saitama prefecture, and areas where tea was cultivated also expanded.
During the Meiji period, Kawagoe tea was integrated into the ‘Sayama tea’ brand for export, and has become a representative crop of Saitama.
Tea-growing areas in Saitama Prefecture
The green tea growing area of Saitama is scattered all over the prefecture, but the main one is around Iruma City where the Sayama tea is cultivated.
‘Sayama tea’ is made mainly in Sayama City, Iruma City and Tokorozawa City in western part of Saitama Prefecture.
Although it is called Sayama tea, its cultivation is more popular in Iruma than in Sayama, because Iruma has a lot of rain and is well drained, making it suitable for green tea cultivation.
There is a Sayama tea picking song that is said ‘Shizuoka has the finest color, Uji is the finest fragrance, and the tea with the best taste is Sayama’ which is highly evaluated for its deep flavor.
Sayama tea has a unique finishing technique called ‘Sayama Biire’(roasting method). It is a traditional method to heat strongly in the process of finishing green tea. This makes the tea rich and flavorful.
Kyoto is known as one of the most famous green tea producing areas, however, it is actually the 5th largest producer after Shizuoka, Kagoshima, Mie and Miyazaki.
The production was 3,700 tons in 2019, which was approximately 3.6% of the total domestic green tea production. Whereas, it has a large share of high-end tea such as Gyokuro and Matcha.
Recommended cultivars such as “Yabukita”, “Hoshun”, “Ushimidori”, “Kyomidori”, “Asahi”, “Ujihikari”, “Tenmyo” and “Samidori”are cultivated in Kyoto.
The history of tea production in Kyoto Prefecture
It is said that the green tea cultivation in Kyoto originated with a monk named Myoe Shonin in The Kamakura period. He planted tea leaves brought from China at the temple Koenji (Togano, Ukyo, Kyoto) and in Uji. Therefore, Koenji has a monument that says “The oldest tea plantation”.
In the Muromachi period, Yoshimitsu Ashikaga built his own tea plantation called Uji Shichimeien to promote the tea cultivation. There were eventually seven plantations called Umojien, Kawashimoen, Iwaien, Morien, Biwaen, Okunoyamaen and Asahien, but only Okunoyamaen is extant in Ujizenho
In the late 16th century, the technique “Covered Cultivation” was developed in Uji. As a result, dark green colored tea leaves with strong umami flavour could be produced and Uji is now known as one of the best high-end tea producing districts.
In the Edo period, Nagatani Soen developed a method called Aosei sencha seiho or Uji seiho. It is a unique Japanese method of rolling and drying tea leaves, which resulted in Green tea (Sencha). This is what made Uji as “The birthplace of Green tea”. This method is still a major method of Japanese green tea.
In the late Edo period, the Uji method was used to produce Gyokuro from cover-cultivated green tea leaves, and the tea was widely consumed in the upper class.
Kyoto has been well-known as a great green tea producing area for ages. As it is still famous for its green tea production, the Kyoto prefecture has been working on projects such as the maintenance of green tea plantations, the promotion of the green tea industry and the spread of the green tea culture.
Tea-growing areas in Kyoto Prefecture
Green tea leaves are cultivated in the south area of Kyoto which is Yamashiro district including Uji, Ujitawara and Wazuka. These are the major green tea producing areas.
The specialty of Kyoto’s green tea is definitely Ujicha that is considered as one of the best three Japanese green tea same as Shizuokacha and Sayamacha.
Ujicha is cultivated in and around Uji. It is said that the area is suitable for cultivating tea in terms of its average temperature, annual rainfall and the temperature difference between day and night.
Ujicha mainly produces Sencha as well as Tencha and Gyokuro. Since Tencha is the ingredient of Matcha, Uji is also well-known as a Matcha producing area.
Mie is the third prefecture in tea production. Although it is far behind Shizuoka Prefecture and Kagoshima Prefecture, the top and the second respectively, it is one of the major tea producers in Japan with the 2018 annual production being 6,240 tons.
Teas grown in Mie Prefecture are generally called “Ise tea,” which is certificated as a Mie Brand. In addition to “Yabukita,” the prefecture’s main cultivar,” “Sayamakaori,” “Okumidori,” and “Saemidori” are also common.
It is less-known that Mie Prefecture has the largest share of the tea being processed for desserts such as ice cream.
History of tea production in Mie Prefecture
Mie Prefecture has a long history of tea cultivation. The earliest record mentions that tea cultivation was taking place at Ichijō-ji Temple in Suizawa-chō, Yokkaichi City. Myōe Shōnin, a Japanese Buddhist monk who popularized tea cultivation through the country during the Kamakura Period, sowed tea seeds in Kawakami, Ise. This also implies the lengthy history of Ise tea.
At the end of Edo Period, the chief priest of Jōgan-ji Temple, Kyōkō Nakagawa, brought tea seeds from Uji. He contributed to the popularization and development of industrial tea cultivation.
Tea production in Mie Prefecture has such a long history and a suitable location. As mentioned above, it is also the third largest tea-producing prefecture in today’s Japan. Unfortunately, however, the region has a comparatively low standing and Ise tea is not so well-known.
One thing is that most of the tea shipped from Mie Prefecture is used as an ingredient of a branded tea in other prefectures, which makes it difficult to build a strong brand. For example, a tea produced in Mie Prefecture and processed in Shizuoka Prefecture is sold as Shizuoka tea.
Tea-growing areas in Mie Prefecture
The land of Mie Prefecture is narrow from north to south. Most parts there have a mild climate. The average temperature is 14 -15 degrees C. The rainy region’s well-drained soil is suitable for tea cultivation.
Teas produced in Mie Prefecture are all included in the brand of Ise tea. The region has, broadly speaking, two tea-growing areas of Hokusei and Chu-nansei.
Hokusei area has the three major cities of Suzuka, Yokkaichi, and Kameyama. A lot of Sencha (steeped green tea) and Kabusecha (covered tea) are produced there. Mie is the largest producer of Kabusecha by prefecture.
The name Kabusecha comes from “cover culture,” one of cultivation methods (“kabuseru” in Japanese means “to cover”). In this process, they cover tea plants to protect them from sunlight 7 to 10 days prior to harvest, which deepens the umami of tea and darkens the color of leaves.
Chu-nansei area includes Matsusaka City, Odai-chō, and Watarai-chō. They utilize valley slopes and riverfront flatlands to produce plenty of high-quality Sencha and Fukamushi-Sencha (deep-steamed steeped green tea).
The best remembered tea-growing region in Japan is Shizuoka Prefecture.
As one of the nation’s leading tea-producing regions, Shizuoka has many parts suited for tea cultivation in landscape, water quality, climate, etc. It is the top tea-producing prefecture in Japan. In 2017, it produced 30,800 tons, about 40% of the national production, making it the largest tea-growing area in Japan.
Sencha (steeped green tea), especially Fukamushi-Sencha (deep-steamed steeped green tea), is the most common there. Their main cultivar is “Yabukita,” but they also grow a variety of cultivars such as“Okuhikari,” “Yamanoibuki,” “Kōshun,” “Tsuyuhikari,” and “Yamakai.”
This article helps you discover Shizuoka Prefecture’s history of tea production and tea-growing areas.
Is Shizuoka’s main tea “Yabukita?”
“Yabukita” accounts for more than 70% of the tea produced in Japan. Shizuoka in particular produces a lot of it.
This cultivar was picked out by Hikosaburō Sugiyama, a tea cultivar improvement pioneer, in Suruga Province (today’s Suruga Ward, Shizuoka City) in 1908. It was comparatively easy to grow and of very high quality as Sencha. For these reasons, it became Shizuoka Prefecture’s recommended cultivar in 1945 and spread through the country. It still keeps a large share of the domestic production.
Shizuoka Prefecture, as the first producer of “Yabukita” in Japan, maintains a very strong share of it, over 90% of the prefecture’s tea cultivation area.
History of tea production in Shizuoka Prefecture
Tea cultivation in Shizuoka can be traced back to the Kamakura Period.
Shōichi Kokushi, a Japanese Buddhist monk, is said to have brought back tea seeds from the Song dynasty (today’s China), where he had his overseas study. They say, noting his birthplace was Suruga Province, he planted the seeds in Ashikubo, Suruga (today’s Ashikubo, Shizuoka City) near his hometown. This episode gave Shōichi Kokushi the moniker “Originator of Shizuoka Tea.” Shizuoka City celebrates his birthday November 1st as Tea Day.
Entering the Edo Period, Shizuoka tea started being purveyed to the Tokugawa Shogunate. As a result, it gained an increasing recognition as refined tea.
It was in the Meiji Period when tea plantation expanded from intermountain areas to tablelands. The reclamation of the Makinohara Plateau greatly increased production volume. Around the middle of the Meiji Period, Shizuoka Prefecture became the leading tea-growing region, in name and reality, with the country’s largest output.
Mechanized mass production soon became common and increased tea production throughout the country. However, Shizuoka Prefecture still boasts the largest production volume in Japan.
Tea-growing areas in Shizuoka Prefecture
It’s no exaggeration that Shizuoka, as one of the nation’s major tea producers, grows tea everywhere in the prefecture. If you drive there, you will see tea plantations all around the region.
Main tea-growing areas are Makinohara City, with the Makinohara Plateau having reclaimed during the Meiji Period, and classical tea producers such as Shimada City and Kakegawa City. Intermountain areas including the upper Ōi River and Tenryū River, well-conditioned in climate and water quality, are also important.
The fact that every tea-growing area has its own branded tea makes Shizuoka tea more attractive. The following brands are well-known nationwide.
Kawane tea is from the upper Ōi River, running through the central part of Shizuoka Prefecture. Clear water and air of the high-altitude intermountain area make the tea of high quality. The first Emperor-Cup award-winning product in the Japanese tea industry is so distinguished.
The liquid has a light and greenish-yellow color. Enjoy its fresh aroma and mild flavor.
The city of Kakegawa, located in the west of Shizuoka Prefecture, is known as one of the birthplaces of Fukamushi-Sencha. Kakegawa tea’s leaves grow thick in the mild climate. Fukamushi, the prolonged steaming process, is said to have been devised to reduce its bitterness and astringency. Most of today’s Kakegawa tea is still Fukamushi-Sencha.
The liquid has a dark color. Its rich aroma, sweetness, and umami will entertain you.
Honyama tea is from the upper Abe River, running through the central part of Shizuoka Prefecture. Shōichi Kokushi described above supposedly planted his tea seeds in this area, which implies Honyama tea has the longest history in Shizuoka.
Its liquid color is said to be “golden transparent.” Enjoy its characteristic smooth and fresh flavors.