The Top 5 Tea Cultivars in Japan

top 5 tea cultivars in Japan
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There are more than a hundred tea cultivars in Japan, with new ones appearing every year.

But only a few are used extensively.

I looked at the data of cultivated area from 2021 from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan (農林水産省).

Here’s the ranking:

#5 Sayamakaori

This cultivar amounts to just 2.3% of the tea field in Japan.

It offers a high yield and cold weather resistance.

Because Sayamakaori is high in catechins, it can easily become bitter and astringent if infused for too long or at a high temperature.

#4 Okumidori

Okumidori is a late budding cultivar that is often used in matcha and gyokuro.

It reaches 3.4% of cultivation by area in Japan.

Another benefit is that it pairs well with Yabukita (the most popular cultivar). Hence, it’s commonly used in tea blends.


As a sencha, it has a balanced and refreshing taste.

#3 Saemidori

With 4.3% of tea cultivation area, Saemidori takes the third place in Japan.

It has a higher concentration of amino acids than the other cultivars of this list.

That’s why it’s a good choice for shaded teas such as gyokuro.

It’s not to be confused with Samidori, which by the way stands at sixth place with an area of 0.7%.

#2 Yutakamidori

Yutakamidori isn’t cultivated as much in most Japanese regions.

But it is takes second place in Kagoshima, which has a large area dedicated to it. In Japan it accounts for 6.2%.

It’s an early budding cultivar, specially suited for the southern regions of Japan.

This cultivar is mostly sold as a fukamushi sencha.

#1 Yabukita

With 67.6% of the tea field area in Japan, it’s number one by far.

However, Yabukita used to be at 75% in 2010.

It seems that it’s slowly becoming a little less dominant.

Yabukita represents the classic taste and aroma of Japanese tea.

If you’ve tasted Japanese tea before, there’s a high chance that it was made with this cultivar.

By the way, all of the cultivars from this list except for Yutakamidori came from Yabukita.

Have you tasted this five cultivars?


  1. Ken Campbell
    July 11, 2023

    Nice recounting of popularcultivars Thanks

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      July 11, 2023

      Hi Ken

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Hrach
    July 12, 2023

    Hi Ricardo, thank you for your relentless efforts to share valuable info. What about other less popular gokou and hikari? Thanks.

    1. Ricardo Caicedo
      July 12, 2023

      Hi Hrach

      Thank you for your comment.

      Gokou and Ujihikari are mostly cultivated in Kyoto prefecture. I have written posts for them as well.


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