Tea Breeds in Japan: History and Types

Tea is commonly known as “Cha (tea)” in Japan, but it was only intentionally cultivated for drinking in the late Edo era. Before that, tea was grown solely for ornamental purposes. It wasn’t until the Meiji era that tea cultivation for drinking was fully developed. Hikosaburo Sugiyama, the father of the most popular tea breed “Yabukita,” played a significant role in the development of Japanese tea.

Types of Tea Breeds in Japan

In 1988, a total of 55 tea breeds were registered in Japan, including 43 types of green tea, 11 types of black tea, and 1 black and green tea combination. Interestingly, even a breed of the Assam family was registered in Japan.

Yabukita is the most widely spread tea breed in Japan, followed by “Sayamamidori,” “Kanayamidori,” “Yutakamidori,” and “Yamakai,” which are also popular for producing Sencha. For Gyokuro, “Kyomidori,” “Samidori,” “Takachiho,” and “Yamanami” are well known. “Benihomare” is popular for producing black tea, and “Asahi” and “Oguramidori” are the most popular breeds for Tencha. “Unkai” is an appropriate tea for Kamairi tea.

Future of Japanese Tea Breeds

As the Japanese people’s taste and preferences change, new types of tea breeds will continue to be developed.

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