The Benihikari cultivar is a variety native to Japan, and generally considered to be best suited to production of oxidised or semi-oxidised teas. The Japanese noun “beni” [crimson] alludes to the color of perfectly-brewed black tea; and infusions from this leaf are indeed a deep (yet bright) transparent red. Its flavor lies midway between astringency and sweetness, and has, in common with certain Chinese varieties, a fresh and pure aroma that escapes through the back of the drinker’s nose.
About the tea
・Origin: Tsukigase, Nara, Japan (single estate).
・Farmer: Fumiaki Iwata.
・Type: Black tea – Wakocha.
・Cultivar: Benihikari cultivar.
・Harvest: May 22, 2018.
・Tea bush age: approx. 13 years.
・Additional impressions: The liquor of the tea produced is a clear bright red; its flavor perfectly balances sweetness and bitterness while giving comparatively no expression to astringent notes; and its aroma strongly resembles the pure perfume of a Chinese black tea, escaping through the back of the nose.
Cultivar chart – Benihikari
・Breeder: Research facilities in Makurazaki in Kagoshima.
・History: Registered in 1960 as #28 on the MAFF’s list of cultivars. The mother of the variety is the Benikaori cultivar of which the seed was pollinated with a local Kagoshima native species. This was then crossbred with the ‘Makura Cn1’ cultivar, a species of Chinese origin. The Benihikari cultivar was selected from among the various descendants of this crossbreed species, with proven capacity for the production of black tea and semi-oxidized teas. In short, the Benihikari cultivar is the ultimate combination of India, China and Japan’s proven black tea cultivars, developed to conform to international quality standards.
・Growth: Late grower.
・Specifications: The cultivar is praised for its vigor in growth and good yield upon harvest.
About the tea garden
・Name: Yama no shita danchi (山の下団地).
・Area: 20 ares.
・Altitude: Approx. 250m.
・Geological features: Most of the farm is positioned on magmatic rock on the Japan median tectonic line, a rock formation of the Mesozoic era. But, some parts also reach into the sedimentary rock of the old lake Biwa stratum of the Cenozoic era.
・Soil type: Areas of sand soil, and areas of clay soil.
・Direction an angle: North and South facing slopes facing each other in a V-shape.
・Ridge direction and shape: East-west along the contour lines of the mountain slope.
・Other specifications of the tea garden and cultivation: For the past 7 years the farm has only been fertilized with vegetation obtained in its local precincts. Harvest is limited to once a year, in Spring only.
About the climate
・Climate: Since the mountain edges come together in a small valley, the area is three dimensional.
・Surroundings and environmental circumstances: To the east, on the other side of the farm-road is a plum garden. The only other adjacent farm is the same farmer’s Yabukita field.
・Other information: The farm receives abundant sunlight, and water drainage is satisfactory. It is an environment in which tea bushes can grow, even when the soil is kept thin and sterile.
The Benihikari cultivar is a tea bush with characteristics of as well Chineses species, as well as Assam species. This makes it a cultivar that lends itself best to producing a strong aroma through fermentation. Therefore, during manufacturing the farmer aims to not let initial withering progress too far, to allow oxidation and fermentation to occur with sufficient liquid remaining in the veins of the leaf.
Measurements per portion.
・Amount of tea ：4g
・Steep duration：90 sec
Suggested no. of infusions: 
Brewing at a hotter temperature will better release the tea’s unique fragrance in the brew.