Even if you've never heard of the name “Yabukita” you probably drink it without realizing it. That is Yabukita, the most produced cultivar of green tea in Japan.
In this article, I’m going to introduce Yabukita cultivar.
"Yabukita" is the standard for green tea
There are more than 100 Japanese tea cultivars, but nearly 80% of the green tea produced in Japan is Yabukita. In some areas, it's as high as 90%.
Of course, even if it's the same cultivar, the taste will change a little depending on the land where it's grown and how it's processed, so it doesn’t mean “the same cultivar = exactly the same taste”.
Characteristics of Yabukita
The reason why Yabukita has been cultivated all over Japan is the outstanding characteristics of Yabukita.
Yabukita is famous for its excellent quality. In particular, the quality of Sencha (steeped green tea) is highly regarded as “extremely good”.
It has a well-balanced taste of astringency, umami, sweetness and richness, and is loved by everyone
Easy to grow
Yabukita is not only of good quality but also easy to grow because it is a wide regional adaptable cultivar. It can be grown anywhere in Japan.
In addition, Yabukita is strong against cold and resistant to frost damages, so that the color of its leaves can be kept clean even in cold places and it is hard to wither.
Nowadays, it is common to grow tea with cuttings, but people used to plant seeds to grow tea trees.
By growing the tea from seeds, the quality of the tea varies depending on how it is grown. When tea farmers have been struggling with this problem, Yabukita, a cultivar of a stable supply of high-quality tea appeared.
It is said that tea is harvested in 5 to 8 years and replanted about once every 30 years.
Therefore, selecting tea cultivars is an important task that determines the fate of tea fields. Yabukita became popular because they can produce high-quality tea stably.
Have a high yield
Yabukita is originally a variety with a high yield, and since it sprouts (the emergence of new buds from a tea leaf. Farmers pick the first tea in about a month after it has sprouted.) at a time when it is less susceptible to frost damage, it can achieve a higher yield than other cultivars.
The biggest characteristic of Yabukita is that it has high quality, high yield, and is grown easily .
It is the reason why Yabukita spread all over Japan.
History of Yabukita
The history of Yabukita started when it was discovered in Shizuoka in 1908.
Yabukita and Yabuminami
SUGIYAMA Hikosaburo, who was a tea researcher at that time, developed a bamboo grove in Shizuoka, and created a tea field where he conducted various researches on tea. Once, two excellent tea trees were selected in the tea field.
Of the two trees selected, the tea tree planted on the north side of the bamboo grove was named “Yabukita” and the tea tree planted on the south side of that was named “Yabu minami”.
As a result of continuous observation and experiments, Yabukita turned out to be better than Yabuminami, so Yabukita was finally chosen. After that, the current Yabukita was made by repeated breeding.
The rapidly expanding in Showa period
Yabukita was not evaluated immediately.
After the War, more than 10 years after SUGIYAMA Hikosaburo’s death, Yabukita gained a high reputation and was designated as a recommended cultivar of Shizuoka Prefecture. It was also selected a registered cultivar of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. So Yabukita was rapidly spreading throughout Japan.
In 1972, “Yabukita” occupies 88% of tea fields in Japan.
Designated as a natural monument of Shizuoka.
Yabukita's mother tree, which was discovered more than 100 years ago and made the history of green tea, actually still exists today and has fresh, green leaves.
Yabukita's mother tree is designated as a natural monument of Shizuoka Prefecture. Although the tree is now over 110 years old, locals and tea-loving tourists still gather to see it.