Okochi Yabukita Oolong (大河内やぶきた烏龍茶) is a wonderfully floral and smooth oolong from Okochi in Shizuoka, Japan. It is expertly made from the leaves of the Yabukita cultivar plants, usually reserved for green tea production. The resulting floral and buttery flavour is reminiscent of the best lightly oxidised Taiwanese oolong teas. We source this tea via a specialist refining factory in Shizuoka who work directly with the farmers. They provide end processing and refining at their small factory in Shizuoka but also support smaller farmers in distributing their teas, developing new tea types and improving their techniques.
Located further upstream from Honyama along the Abe River, Okochi is not a famous tea growing area. However it does share many of the characteristics of neighbouring famous tea growing areas of Shizuoka, delivering perfect growing conditions for great tea.
This particular Yabukita Oolong comes from an artisanal tea business based in Aoi Ward in Shizuoka Prefecture. This consists of a small tea factory and a few tea gardens around Shizuoka in places like Okochi and Honyama. It is run by a team of young enthusiasts who share the same story. Growing tired of hectic life in big cities, they decided to come together and start a tea business that is completely opposite to their previous city life. Their focus is very much on developing and crafting new tea types. As traditional tea production is declining in Japan, this is a very much needed injection of energy and innovation that will hopefully contribute in a different way to preservation of Japanese tea craft in the longer term.
Their factory feautures new modern machinery that enables them to make both crude tea for further refining at refining factories, but also finished product, such as oolong tea and black tea. The two oolong teas (this Yabukita and Benifuki) are already showcasing their skill at making these. But they also have other highly experimental teas, such as Koji Fermented Kurocha and whisky and sake barrel aged teas (coming to our shop soon!). They are also taking over more of the abandoned tea gardens. As we witnessed on our recent visit to Shizuoka, there are quite a few of those!
This Okochi Yabukita Oolong consists of large lightly oxidised leaves. It produces a bright, lightly coloured liquor with a floral aroma. The taste is definitely on the lighter and floral side, reminiscent of Taiwanese high mountain oolongs. Overall flavours are subtle and balanced. The dominant floral taste combines nicely with buttery and creamy notes. There is a sweet note running throughout the taste, making this Yabukita Oolong a very approachable cup. The smooth aftertaste has a lasting floral note and no astringency or dryness.
It is best brewed at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste. It can be brewed 3+ times depending on your taste preferences. This tea is best brewed in a way similar to other green oolongs, so we encourage to experiment based on your favourite method of brewing those.