Ashikita Benifūki Wakocha (芦北町べにふうき和紅茶) is a smooth Japanese black tea grown on Kajihara Tea Farm that is run to organic standards in Ashikita District of Kumamoto Prefecture. This tea is crafted from the unusual Benifūki cultivar plants, which results in a distinctive profile that is sweet and fruity. We source it directly from the grower, Mr Toshihiro Kajihara. The current batch is the second flush harvest from June 2020.
While Kajihara tea garden mostly focuses on heritage native ‘zairai’ plants, they also have a number of various Japanese cultivars planted on their farm to further differentiate and extend their range of teas. This tea is made from the Benifūki (べにふうき) cultivar, also often written as Benifuuki in English. It resulted from cross-breeding of two cultivars in Japan in the 1960’s. The selected cultivars were MakuraCd86, a Camellia sinensis that originated from descendants of Darjeeling plants, and Benihomare that originated from descendants of Camellia assamica plants found in India and Sri Lanka. The actual Benifūki cultivar was registered in Japan only in 1993 but has become rather popular for production of Japanese Benifuki oolong and black teas.
Wakocha (和紅茶), or Japanese black tea, is still rather rare. Different cultivars are utilised for producing various Wakocha black teas with different flavour profiles. For example our Makinohara Benifuki Wakocha has a more broken leaf and a much bolder black tea profile. Some of these Japanese black teas aim to emulate their counterparts from India, China and Taiwan to capture some of the established market. Some however, just as this Benifūki Wakocha does, create something completely new and exciting – a distinctive flavour profile that is unique not only to Japan, but to specific cultivar and farmer.
Ashikita Benifūki Wakocha black tea has a twisted dark leaf that produces an amber cup. The taste is smooth and balanced and is definitely on the lighter and gentler side. The liquor has a lovely lightly floral and malty aroma. The Benifūki cultivar here works wonders to create a taste that is predominantly sweet and fruity with notes of plums and other stone fruits. Light floral notes are also present, as well as a hint of earthy spices derived from roots, such as turmeric. The overall impression is of a complex profile with plenty of sweetness. The aftertaste is very clean, with a lasting sweet and lightly mineral finish.
It is best brewed at 90°C for around 3 minutes, with multiple infusions.
You may also be interested in other teas crafted by Kajihara-san.