Tea Cultivar | Yabukita

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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

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

As of 2019, there are 119 registered tea varieties in Japan. Of these, more than 75% of the green tea produced in Japan is “Yabukita.” (2020)

Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

In Shizuoka Prefecture, the birthplace of “Yabukita” and the catalyst for its spread throughout Japan, the share is even more significant, reaching 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

“Yabukita” has become so widely grown throughout Japan due to its many outstanding characteristics.

Sencha, Tencha, and Gyokuro. “High quality” suitable for all types of tea

Well-balanced taste

Yabukita is famous for its excellent quality.

It is easy to produce high levels of umami components by fertilizer and covered cultivation, and was suitable for all types of tea, including sencha, tencha (the tea used to make matcha), gyokuro, and kamairi-cha (roasted in a kettle).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

“Ease of growing” from its strong cold tolerance

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.

Tea must be most careful of cold and frost damage after the first tea buds sprout, and in regions with severe cold, tea leaves may wither during the winter season. However, Yabukita is resistant to cold, and its strength is that it is not susceptible to frost damage, which causes the leaves to change color and wither due to the cold.

Although it is susceptible to disease and insect damage, this can be overcome by pesticides and the location of the field, making it a stable variety that can be grown anywhere in Japan.

Stable quality

Nowadays, it is common to grow tea with cuttage, but people used to plant seeds to grow tea trees. (seedlings)

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 .

Because of its stable quality and yield, it is easy for tea merchants to purchase, and buyers have no trouble finding it.

History of Yabukita

The history of Yabukita started when it was discovered in Shizuoka in 1908.

Yabukita and Yabuminami

Hikosaburo Sugiyama, 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” (bush = Yabu, north = kita in japanese) and the tea tree planted on the south side of that was named “Yabuminami”.

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 born after many years of research, but this variety did not receive high acclaim immediately after its birth.

Planting new tea fields is an expensive and time-consuming process, and at the time of Yabukit’s birth, the concept of “tea cultivars” was very new. Nevertheless, many tea growers continued to grow tea in the same fields as their ancestors.

After the death of Hikosaburo Sugiyama, more than ten years after the war, Yabukita finally began to receive high acclaim. In 1945, it was designated as an encouraging cultivar by Shizuoka Prefecture. In 1953, it was registered as a cultivar by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries and quickly spread 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.