"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"Izumi" was originally made for Kamairicha(kettle roasted tea), but after a long time since its birth, it is now very common to see "Izumi" processed into black tea.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"?
There are more than 100 tea cultivars in Japan alone, and there are an enormous number of cultivars in the world.
However, there are only two groups of tea plants that are the origin of so many tea cultivars on the earth.
Assam group and China group
All tea cultivars including black tea, oolong tea and green tea, are roughly divided into two groups: Assam group (large leaf tea) and China group (small leaf tea).
Branched from these two groups, various kinds of tea cultivars have been produced.
By the way, almost all of Japanese tea belongs to China group.
Characteristics of Assam group
Assam group is mainly used for black tea because it is rich in tannin, has a rich aroma, and it is easily oxidized.
It is grown mainly in Sri Lanka and India because it is sensitive to cold and it likes hot and humid climate.
Assam group has no particular plucking tie and it is picked 40 ~ 50 times a year.
By the way, the best tea leaves can be picked from March to June and from September to November, which is called the quality season. In particular, tea leaves picked in March and April is called first flush, and you can enjoy a particularly rich taste and aroma.
Characteristics of China group
China group is often used for green tea because it has less tannin, has a delicate taste and aroma, and is difficult to oxidize.
It is not only resistant to cold and grown in cold and dry places, but also adaptable and grown in hot and humid places. It is grown in Japan, China and Taiwan.
From the beginning of spring to the beginning of autumn, China group is picked about four times a year. In Japan, the first tea picked that year is called “Ichibancha or Shincha (first picked tea)” and the tea picked at that time is the highest quality and is traded at a high price.
History of Assam group
Assam group was a wild tea tree found in Assam, India. However, there were various difficulties before it became widespread throughout the world.
In the 1780s, imported tea trees of China group were already planted in India.
The people in India were looking for wild tea trees in their own country, not from China, but it was hard to find.
In 1823, British botanist Robert Bruce visited in Assam, India, and discovered a tea tree he had never seen. This was the discovery of Assam group (later).
However, the Indian botanist's verdict was “This is not a tea tree, but a camellia tree.”.
It was not recognized as a tea tree at that time. Robert Bruce died in despair.
It was finally recognized as a tea tree thanks to the efforts of Robert’s younger brother Charles, who took over his will. It was the birth of Assam group.
Under the direction of Charles, the first Indian green tea made from Assam group was produced in 1838. In the following year, it was auctioned off in London at a high price.
This had raised expectations and interests in the tea business, but it had been difficult.
The land of Assam had been inhabited by dangerous wild animals and poisonous snakes, so it had been hard to develop.
Meanwhile, infectious diseases such as malaria and cholera spread and many workers died.
Tea leaves of Assam group was managed to produce, but it was too hard to secure a transportation route for exportation.
However, Assam group was a hope for the people of that time, so they had never given up.
As a result, tea production took off around 1850, 27 years after the first discovery, and the cultivation of Assam group tea trees began in Southeast Asia and Africa.
After that, black tea was born, and it has spread all over the world, mainly in the UK, until now.
History of China group
The origin of tea is China. The history of tea is started before Christ. The tea has existed since ancient times and it appears in ancient mythology.
There are various theories about the origin of tea, but the theory that the first tea tree was found in the southwest area of Yunnan is widely accepted.
Around this time, tea leaves were recognized as a medicine and began to be consumed as a luxury around 59 B.C.
Around 760, the world's oldest tea book, Chakyo (The Classic of Tea) was completed, and the way of drinking and brewing tea became close to the current style.
Chinese tea arrived in Japan in 805. The history of Japanese tea has started from here.
A long time later, around 1610, Chinese tea was imported to Europe for the first time.
Chinese tea was brought to Taiwan even later, around 1810.
Assam group was discovered more than 10 years later.
The history of Assam group is much shorter than that of the China group, and it is a very new variety that was discovered less than 200 years ago.