Wazuka Zairai White Tea

Wazuka Zairai White Tea
Wazuka Zairai White Tea
Wazuka Zairai White Tea
Wazuka Zairai White Tea
Wazuka Zairai White Tea

Wazuka Zairai White Tea

Regular price $15.00 Sale price $13.50 Save 10%
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  • 20 grams
  • Single Origin | Single Cultivar
  • Ships from the United States
  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way
Shipping calculated at checkout.

A rarity amongst rarities, this exquisite white tea was laboriously hand-picked, sun-withered, and charcoal-baked, giving it a sweet, complex taste, with notes of edamame, and silky, creamy texture. 

 

White tea is a minimally processed tea, made by withering and drying freshly picked tea leaves, preferably under the sun. While there is no ‘fixing’ process, oxidation slows and virtually stops as the leaves dry out.  After which, higher-grade white teas will undergo a subtle low temperature charcoal roasting to round out the flavour and texture. Despite this simple processing, good white tea is difficult to make, as the oxidation and flavour of the finished tea is determined only by the rate of the wither and drying. Heat, humidity, sunlight, and the arrangement of the leaves on the drying mats all have an impact on this and knowing how to manipulate them (if possible) is part of the skill of white tea making.

Japanese white tea is an incredibly recent development limited to only a handful of farmers. The labour-intensive manual picking and production mean that very little is made. What Japanese white that does exist varies drastically in taste, some are sweet and fresh, others more nutty and creamy. A few taste similar to Chinese white teas while most taste distinctly Japanese.

 

While Uji may be the most famous tea region in Kyoto, most tea sold as “Ujicha” is actually grown in the neighbouring town of Wazuka, located to the southeast, which produces almost 50% of Uji tea. Dating back to the Kamakura era, tea production in Wazuka has enjoyed an 800-year history. The tea plantations in Wazuka are located on the steep slopes of misty hills and mountains—an environment suitable for high-quality tea leaves, with cool air, short daylight hours, temperature differences between day and night, and well-drained soil. Cultivation of tea plants in such an environment takes a lot of time and effort, making it unsuitable for the methods of mass production employed in the flatlands.


Cultivar: 80 year-old Zairai

Region: Wazuka, Kyoto

Producer: Chaen Morifuku

Harvested: May 5, 2020

Elevation: 200m

Picking: Hand-picked (Bud and 3-4 leaves)

Brewing Instructions

Tea/Water Ratio

3g per 100ml of water
(.11oz per 3.4oz)

Water Temperature

100º C (212ºF)

Brewing Time

45 seconds
(+10 seconds for subsequent infusions)

Meet the Producer

Chaen Morifuku (茶園森福)

Cultivar: 80 year-old Zairai

Confusingly, Zairai is not a cultivar, but rather a term used to refer to ‘native’ or seed-grown tea plants of unknown ancestry. In China, these types of plants are called quntizhong, and in other industries they are called landraces or heirloom varietals.

Throughout most of tea’s history, tea was grown from seed, producing genetically unique plants, each with its own taste, shape, budding time, yield, and disease resistance. Today, however, most tea is grown through clonal propagation of cultivars through cutting, producing genetically identical bushes. Zairai gardens often have higher disease resistance due to their genetic diversity, but this same diversity makes them harder to harvest, resulting in significantly reduced yield and consistency, which is why most farms in Japan switched over to cultivar production in the 20th century.

However, tea produced from Zairai bushes tends to have a deeper flavour, resulting from the deep-growing roots of the older seed-grown plants, along with the natural ‘blend’ produced by these diverse plants.

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We're working with small tea farmers who are passionate about their craft, and working towards a goal⁠—whether it's to preserve and perfect age-old traditions, to experiment and push the boundaries of Japanese tea, or to create a more sustainable and biodynamic future for the industry. 
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