Benitachiwase (べにたちわせ) is an old cultivar developed at a time when Japan was very interested in competing in the black tea market.
It is named after its three more notable features: suitable for black tea, grows in a straight manner, and is an early budding cultivar.
While it still exists in the market, it is uncommon. Other black tea cultivars have replaced it.
History of Benitachiwase
In 1934 at the Kagoshima prefecture agricultural testing site, two cultivars were crossed: Ai26 and Nka01.
Ai26 is from the Assamica variety and was brought from India, while Nka01 came from a native tea plant in Kagoshima prefecture.
After being propagated for 5 years, the best tea plant was selected. Much later on, in 1953, it would be registered and named Benitachiwase.
Characteristics of Benitachiwase
This cultivar has vigorous growth and is fairly resistant to common diseases.
It buds quite early, so that it is advantageous to grow in the warm climates of southern Japan in order to have the first harvest before other cultivars.
The leaves from Benitachiwase are big, elliptical in shape, and have a light green color.
Since it has a high catechin content, this cultivar is suitable for black tea.
It makes a good black tea, with a refined Assam tea aroma and a mild taste.