Japanese Tea Cultivar List

Japanese tea cultivar list

Picture from NARO website

There are many Japanese tea cultivars, although in reality only a few are extensively cultivated.

I’m sure that Japanese tea enthusiasts would like to know about all the ones that are available.

For this reason, I decided to list the registered cultivars. By searching online, I found an old list and a new one, so basically I just compiled them into a single list.

Note that there are also non-registered cultivars being used in Japan, but I don’t know the reason why they aren’t registered. Maybe it takes a long time to do so?

Update: Information provided by Fumiki Kawaguchi from Shinkoju.

  • Registering a cultivar is optional, so many cultivars are used without being registered. For example the Yutakamidori cultivar which in cultivated area ranks second, never went through the proper cultivation testing but many prefectures wanted it so it spread anyway.
  • Some of them have failed the selection process in the past but as times changed they gained more attention, such as the Machiko cultivar.
  • Other times, the cultivar is commercialized before the judgment for registration begins and hence it is disqualified, such as the Kouju cultivar. There are many reasons why a cultivar isn’t registered.

From what I understand, the process is now governed by the NARO (National Agriculture and Food Research Organization). However, in the past another organization was in charge.

The list covers cultivars since 1953, when cultivars were first registered in Japan. The last one is 2012, which is believe is the most recent.

Japanese Tea Cultivars
Name Year of registration Usage
Benihomare 1953 black tea
Asatsuyu 1953 sencha
Miyoshi 1953 sencha
Tamamidori 1953 tamaryokucha
Sayamamidori 1953 sencha
Yabukita 1953 sencha
Makinoharawase 1953 sencha
Koyanishi 1953 sencha
Rokurou 1953 sencha
Yamatomidori 1953 sencha
Takachiho 1953 kamairicha
Indo 1953 black tea
Hatsumomiji 1953 black tea
Benitachiwase 1953 black tea
Akane 1953 black tea
Natsumidori 1954 sencha
Yaeho 1954 sencha
Asagiri 1954 gyokuro
Kyoumidori 1954 gyokuro/tencha
Hatsumidori 1954 sencha
Benikaori 1960 black tea
Benifuji 1960 black tea
Himemidori 1960 gyokuro
Izumi 1960 kamairi tamaryokucha
Satsumabeni 1960 black tea
Okumusashi 1962 sencha
Yamanami 1965 kamairicha
Benihikari 1969 black tea
Unkai 1970 kamairicha
Kanayamidori 1970 sencha
Sayamakaori 1971 sencha
Okumidori 1974 sencha
Toyoka 1976 sencha
Okuyutaka 1983 sencha
Meiryoku 1986 sencha
Fukumidori 1986 sencha
Shunmei 1988 sencha
Minekaori 1988 kamairicha
Minamikaori 1988 sencha
Saemidori 1990 sencha
Fuushun 1991 sencha
Minamisayaka 1991 sencha
Hokumei 1992 sencha
Benifuuki 1993 black tea/oolong
Ryoufuu 1997 sencha
Musashikaori 1997 sencha
Sakimidori 1997 sencha
Harumidori 2000 sencha
Soufuu 2002 sencha/oolong
Sainomidori 2003 sencha
Harumoegi 2003 sencha
Miyamakaori 2003 sencha
Yumewakaba 2006 sencha
Yumekaori 2006 sencha
Shuntarou 2009 sencha
Sunrouge 2009 N/A
Saeakari 2010 sencha
Harunonagori 2012 sencha
Nagomiyutaka 2012 kamairicha/sencha
Nanmei 2012 sencha
Seimei 2017 sencha

By the meaning of their names in Japanese, one can tell many things.

For example, the ones that have “midori” (green) are for green tea. On the other hand, cultivars meant for black tea have “beni” (red) in them. Remember that black tea is actually red tea in Japan.

Also, the cultivars with “oku” (interior) in their name are late budding, or banseishu (晩生種).

As you can see in the list, the popular Yabukita cultivar is very old, it was registered in 1953, along with 15 other cultivars.

I’ll be talking about important cultivars in future posts, starting with Yabukita.




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23 Responses to Japanese Tea Cultivar List

  1. Lars says:

    Wow! What an impressive list, that you’ve compiled there. A japanese tea fanatic like me enjoys exactly that!

  2. lochan says:

    Really interesting.
    Isn’t Yume Wakaba ゆめわかば already registered as a cultivar? Maybe you missed that. I think it was registered as ‘Norin No.53’ and named ‘Yumewakaba’ in 2006.

    Jun Chiyabari Tea Garden

  3. The cultivar list is now updated, last teas are from 2012.

    • lochan says:

      Hi Ricardo,
      Last year I went to the tea research station in Kikugawa, Shizuoka. They gave me an official chart of the clones. It is in Japanese though. I scanned it and made it into a pdf file. I can send that to you if you want. It may help you. Send me your mail address if you would like it.

  4. Paul Escudero says:

    Excellent work Richard. Where can I obtain reliable cultivars in the Eastern United States? I live in the notheast but would like to obtain 4 or so that I will keep in large containers on a deck and bring inside in the winter time.
    Your friend in delight of tea

  5. Hi Ricardo, what an epic list! There’s some really good information here 🙂

    I found 5 of the 6 varieties we have here on our tea farm in Australia. If you know anything about our sixth – Yutakamidori – I’d be very keen to hear it.

    Thanks for all of your effort !

    • Hello Brendon

      Thanks for the comment. It’s interesting that you have so many Japanese tea cultivars in your tea farm.

      As you can see Yutakamidori isn’t on the list. This is because it was never registered, although this cultivar is fairly popular.

      What I can tell you is that it can be harvested 5 days earlier than Yabukita, and it is suited for warm weather. That’s why it is mainly found in Kagoshima prefecture.

  6. Valeria says:

    Hello Ricardo and thanks for a great site!
    I’ve heard of a new cultivar registered in 2015, okuharuka (sencha). The leaves of oharuka have a perfume like that of sakura leaves – or it seems so, I haven’t yet tried it. Maybe it could be joined to your great list too..

    • Dear Valeria

      Thanks for reading my blog.

      The cultivar that you say exists, you can buy a tea made with it if you search for it online.

      However, I looked at http://agriknowledge.affrc.go.jp/ and it isn’t listed yet. Sometimes it takes many years, and sometimes they aren’t listed at all but they are still used.

      From what I looked online, it submitted and application in 2013.

      As you say, it has the aroma of sakura leaves. Unfortunately I haven’t tried it either.

      • Valeria says:

        Thanks, Ricardo! It seems I got the wrong information about its being already registered. Good to know, and thanks for the useful link!
        I’ve been reading your site with great pleasure and sincerily admire your work!
        By the way, I would be very interesting to know more about your experience at 日本茶インストラクタ教会. Maybe you have already wrote an article about it? I can’t find…

  7. Mei says:

    Hello. Thank you for such an interesting site. I am only just getting into learning more about Nihoncha, even though I have been actively drinking Japanese tea for around 3 years now. Your site has been helpful. 🙂

    Do you have any info on Samidori, a cultivar that is said to originate from Kyoto?


    • Hi Mei, thanks for commenting.

      Actually there’s not much info online about Samidori. It’s a cultivar best used in shaded teas such as matcha and gyokuro, in that respect it’s similar to Gokou, Asahi, and Ujihikari. They are all from Kyoto, but for some reason they aren’t registered. However, they are relatively popular in representing tea from Uji.

      Samidori is reasonably resistant to cold weather, a bit weak against the grey blight and the white peach scale. It also has medium resistance to anthracnose.
      Yield at harvest is a little low.

      Not to be confused with Saemidori.

      • Mei says:

        There are just so many unregistered, but popular, cultivars. Or maybe there is an update to the list since 2012 but not released to the public. Well, just maybe. ^^;

  8. lochan says:

    Hi Ricardo,
    Do you have any information on the Kyoto cultivars, Gokou and Asahi now? I think Mei also requested for this earlier.

    I have some information on Samidori and would be happy to share it with you by mail.

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