Makinohara Benifūki Wakocha (牧之原和紅茶) is an unusual black tea from Japan. Grown at low altitude around Makinohara in Shizuoka Prefecture, it is made from the Benifūki (べにふうき) cultivar. It is grown and processed to organic standards without use of any pesticides. This particular batch is a second flush tea, harvested in May 2019. Like all of our Makinohara Japanese teas, we source it directly from the grower in Shizuoka.
Japan is particularly known for green tea, with most farmers focusing on producing traditional Japanese teas to meet local and international demand for them. This makes speciality teas like this Benifūki Wakocha rather rare and unusual.
The Benifūki cultivar (also often written as Benifuuki in English) is the result of cross-breeding 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.
The leaves of this Makinohara Benifūki Wakocha are of rather mixed size that includes larger and smaller leaves as well as some stalks. The smaller size of the leaf can be quite fine, making this tea ideal for a strong brew if desired. It produces a dark ruby liquor with a malty and lightly fruity aroma. The mineral profile has a classic black tea character, showing the strength and suitability of the Benifūki cultivar for black tea production. There are satisfying malty and fruity notes with savoury, peppery hints. The lightly metallic and tangy aftertaste completes the flavour profile. This wakocha black tea reminds us of a good, balanced English Breakfast tea.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 2 minutes with multiple infusions. You can definitely brew this tea for longer to create a bolder and stronger infusion. In such case we can suggest that a drop of milk might be a good idea (the producer of this tea certainly thinks so!).