Complete List of Japanese Tea Cultivars

After 1953, when Japan created a tea cultivar registration system under the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), farmers began cataloging and systematizing the creation and development of tea cultivars, members of the camellia sinensis family that are bred to contain specific characteristics. Today, Japan—and most tea-growing regions—have established centers to research and develop new varietals and strains. Carefully bred cultivars enable farmers to grow tea plants that do well in the given climate (for example, certain cultivars resist frost better), but this also translates to aroma and flavor profile. Arguably green teas exhibit their cultivars better than any other type of tea, because there is little processing done to the plant post-harvest.

Here is the list of tea cultivars developed and registered in Japan—because cultivar registration is not required, there are others not on this list:

Cultivar Year Registered
Akane 1953
Asagiri 1954
Asatsuyu 1953
Benifuji 1960
Benifuuki 1993
Benihikari 1969
Benihomare 1953
Benikaori 1960
Benitachiwase 1953
Fukumidori 1986
Fuushun 1991
Harumidori 2000
Harumoegi 2003
Harunonagori 2012
Hatsumidori 1954
Hatsumomiji 1953
Himemidori 1960
Hokumei 1992
Indo 1953
Izumi 1960
Kanayamidori 1970
Koyanishi 1953
Kyoumidori 1954
Makinoharawase 1953
Meiryoku 1986
Minamikaori 1988
Minamisayaka 1991
Minekaori 1988
Miyamakaori 2003
Miyoshi 1953
Mushikaori 1997
Nagomiyutaka 2012
Nanmei 2012
Natsumidori 1954
Okumidori 1974
Okumusashi 1962
Okuyutaka 1983
Rokurou 1953
Ryoufuu 1997
Saeakari 2010
Saemidori 1990
Sainomidori 2003
Sakimidori 1997
Satsumabeni 1960
Sayamakaori 1971
Sayamamidori 1953
Seimei 2017
Shunmei 1988
Shuntarou 2009
Soufuu 2002
Sunrouge 2009
Takachiho 1953
Tamamidori 1953
Toyoka 1976
Unkai 1969
Yabukita 1953
Yaeho 1954
Yamanami 1965
Yamatomidori 1953
Yumekaori 2006
Yumewakaba 2006

Common roots refer to the type of tea or harvest time; for example: "beni" refers to red and is used for red teas (synonymous in Western culture to black teas; black teas refer to fermented teas in Japan as well as other parts of Asia); "midori" means green; "oku" denotes cultivars that are harvested after the yabukita cultivar, which is a frequently used point of reference for cultivar comparison.

Of Japanese tea cultivars, yabukita is the most popular, making up over 75% of all tea grown in Japan. Many cultivars are cross-bred with yabukita in order to incorporate yabukita's resistance to frost, high yield, and strong umami flavor.

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