What is Benifuki?

September 17, 2019
Japanese Benifuki Grains

What is Benefuki?  Whenever I think of tea and Japan, the first style of tea that comes to mind is green.  But did you know that Japan is starting to get into other styles as well.  Black, Oolong and Pu-erh style Japanese teas are beginning to make their way out of Japan and into the worlds market.  Black tea production in Japan is less than 1% of its whole tea production (green tea is 99%), and black tea is still a rarity.

The Benifuki cultivar was developed several decades ago through a hybridized strain of an Indian Assamica, and a Chinabush sinensis hybrid.  The hybrid was created specifically for black and oolong tea production.  Benefuki can be cultivated throughout Japan because of its disease resistance, due to the hybridized strain.  The main cultivar in Japan is the Yabukita strain of tea plant.  The Benefuki strain has been known to yield up to 30% more than the Yabukita strain as well as not having its environmental limitations due to blight and disease.

The processing of Benefuki differs from that of the green tea that we have grown to love.  While the green tea is quickly brought to factory for processing, the tea leaves of the black tea sit for half a day for wilting.  In this process, moisture in the leaves is greatly reduced and the unique fragrance and flavor of black tea begin to evolve.  Another process green tea lacks, is fermentation.  For black tea there is a special container which controls moisture and temperature and causes the tea leaves to ferment.  This process further enhances the flavor of the tea.

The resulting liquor is light and smooth, with bright notes and a natural sweetness.  The tea is excellent iced or hot.  In the coming months Tin Roof is planning on carrying oolong and puerh Japanese teas.  They will go fast, so we are going to have to ensure that we order enough to last.

See you at the shop!

Source: https://gjtea.org/the-history-of-japanese-black-tea-wakoucha/

Source: https://japaneseteasommelier.wordpress.com/2019/07/24/first-flush-japanese-black-teas-and-points-about-this-phenomenon/