Ashikita Izumi Wakocha (芦北町いずみ和紅茶) is an unusual 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 rare Izumi cultivar plants, which results in a distinctive light profile that is mineral and fruity. We source it directly from the grower, Mr Toshihiro Kajihara. The current batch is the first flush harvest from May 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 Izumi (いずみ) cultivar, a type of tea plant that is quite rare. Initially this plant was developed for production of pan-fried kamairicha green teas, whereby it was aimed at competing with Chinese green tea cultivars on the international market. While this did not meet much success, the plant was nevertheless officially registered in Japan around 1960. The limited popularity of kamairicha in Japan attributed to the scarcity of this cultivar. While some producers still do use this plant for making kamairicha, recently it has been more often made into black tea or even oolong. The heritage of the plant is assamica (via the Benihomare cultivar) so it seems particularly well suited for black tea production.
Ashikita Izumi Wakocha black tea has a neat twisted dark leaf made from tippy young leaves. It produces a light amber cup with excellent clarity. The smooth liquor has a light fruity aroma and is definitely on the lighter and gentler side. The fruity profile has pronounced mineral notes that are complimented by sweet fruity flavours. The lasting aftertaste is a little malty, tangy and chalky with a floral undertone. This is a smooth, easy-drinking tea that is hugely appealing. If you ever drank traditional Russian tea from a samovar with addition of raspberry jam, this tea is curiously similar in taste!
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.