Because of my previous tea review, I became interested in Hakuyoucha (白葉茶, white leaf tea).
We’re not talking about a white tea here, it’s an uncommon green tea made with leaves that have a color ranging from very pale green to yellow.
There are two types of white leaf tea:
White leaf tea cultivars
The cultivars started as natural mutations, and the tea farmers started to grow them by cuttings.
This process takes years. Having a tea field big enough for harvesting, while starting from a single white leaf tea plant is quite a feat.
Naturally, production of white leaf tea cultivars is low and the price is high.
As far as I know, these are the Japanese white leaf tea cultivars:
Kiraka (きら香) Found in Fukuroi city, Shizuoka prefecture. Tea farmer: Mr. Takeuchi.
Hoshinomidori (星野緑, Hoshino green) Fukuoka prefecture. Tea farmer: Mr. Inoue.
Koganemidori (黄金みどり, green gold) Morokozawa, a part of Shizuoka city, Shizuoka prefecture. Tea farmer: Mr. Sato.
Yamabuki (山吹) Named after the Japanese kerria, a yellow flower. Found in Shimizu ward of Shizuoka city, Shizuoka prefecture. Tea farmer: Mr. Sugiyama.
Artificial white leaf tea
Actually, there’s a cultivation technique that lets you obtain white leaf tea from any cultivar!
I don’t know exactly how it works, but it involves heavy shading (close to 100%) of the tea leaves for two to three weeks.
Some cultivars lend themselves better for this process than others.
From what I’ve seen, not that many people make artificial white tea. Perhaps the demand isn’t that high yet?
More about white leaf tea
I’ve only tried one white leaf tea, but from what I’ve read they all have a high umami flavor, good sweetness, and low astringency and bitterness.
The liquor ranges from clear, pale green to a golden color.
I hope one day this tea becomes more available, because I really liked it.
You can purchase it online if you look for it, some online stores sell it outside Japan.
The price is high, but probably worth it for most green tea lovers.