Izumi (いずみ) is an old cultivar, and it is definitely rare. Only a few tea farmers cultivate it.
It was developed for kamairi tamaryokucha, but today it can be found as a black tea or even an oolong tea.
The interest in Izumi might have sparked again since 2008, when a set of two teas from this cultivar: a slightly withered sencha and an oolong tea, won the grand gold prize of the World Green Tea Contest.
History of Izumi
At the time of this cultivar’s inception, there were plans to better compete against China in the North African market.
Kamairi tamaryokucha had a greater acceptance there, because it was similar to the Chinese green tea that was already in high demand.
In 1933 at the Fukuoka prefectural agricultural experiment station, seeds from a Benihomare cultivar tea field were taken and then planted elsewhere.
The best seedling would later be selected, and in 1960 the the Izumi cultivar was registered at the Kyushu agricultural experiment station.
Characteristics of Izumi
This cultivar is remarkably vigourous. It also offers a high yield at harvest, twice as much as Benihomare and Takachiho.
It is a normal budding cultivar, resistant to cold weather.
However, it is very weak against the net blister blight.
As a kamairi tamaryokucha, Izumi has an excellent taste and aroma.
The shape and color of the tea leaves are also good, with a particular aroma not found in other Japanese tea cultivars.
It has an an intense taste, with much body.
I haven’t had the pleasure to taste a tea from this cultivar yet, unfortunately.