Kumamoto Zairai Wakoucha

Kumamoto Zairai Wakoucha

Regular price $20.00
  • 50 grams
  • Single Origin | Single Cultivar
  • Ships from the United States
  • In stock, ready to ship
  • Inventory on the way

Made from 70 year-old seed-grown tea plants that capture the unique tastes of Kumamoto, this delightfully complex first flush black tea has notes of nuts, spices, pastries, and stone fruits, coupled with a long-lasting finish.

This tea is rather versatile and can be brewed gongfu style (as per our recommendations) yielding multiple delicious infusions. It can also be enjoyed with  more western-style brewing parameters, using a lower leaf to water ratio, and a longer brewing time.


A mountainous prefecture on Kyushu, Kumamoto has a long history of tea production, dating back to the 12th century. Its mineral-rich volcanic soils are perfect for agriculture. In the 1600s, the pan-firing or kamairi (釜炒り) method of the production was introduced from China. Along with Saga, Kumamoto is the primary producing region of kamairicha and its unique traditional processing style is called aoyagisei kamairicha (青柳製釜炒り茶), making use of a general purpose flat wok as opposed to the purpose-built angled pans used in Saga.

Kumamoto was also the site of the first ever Japanese black tea (wakoucha) production, with the first black tea training centre opening in 1875.

Cultivar: 70 year-old Zairai

Region: Ashikita, Kumamoto

Producer: Kajihara

Harvested: April 30, 2023

Elevation: 150m

Picking: Handheld Machine

Brewing Instructions

Tea/Water Ratio

4g per 100ml of water
(.14oz per 3.4oz)

Water Temperature

100º C (212ºF)

Brewing Time

25 seconds
(+5 seconds for subsequent infusions)

Meet the Producer

Ocha no Kajihara (お茶のカジハラ)

Cultivar: 70 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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