Shincha Yakushima Zairai



May 2024

Yakushima, Kagoshima

Zairai 再来 refers to teas made from tea trees that are indigenous to Japan. We would consider these trees to be “wild” in the terms applied to Chinese teas, as they are grown from seeds instead of cuttings.

Most of the Zairai tea trees that remain in Japan are older, some of them have lived over a hundred years. They are increasingly rare, primarily because Zairai trees yield only half of the tea that other varietals produce. More prolific varietals, like Yakubita, have been crossbred specifically for higher yields, which easily gains them favour amongst producers. Currently, the Zairai varietal accounts for only 3% of all the tea produced in Japan.

As we would expect from both an indigenous varietal and an older tree, Zairai teas have strong energy and a unique character. They are also of a higher quality, as they are not commonly treated with pesticides or fertilizers. The trees have deep roots, and thus are naturally resistant to pests and can self-sustain in the wild. This also means the tea leaves will show a higher mineral content, deposited by what the roots have pulled up from deep below the ground.

Zairai tea trees have been cultivated in the Osumi Islands of Japan, (the archipelago of which Yakushima is a part), since ancient times. This tea comes from the small organic tea farm tucked away in the mountains of Yakushima. The trees growing here face the East China Sea, with towering sugi trees behind them.

Sencha is a widely appreciated and highly cultivated tea to many different grades. To taste this “wild” sencha is a privilege, as it reveals to us the essential qualities underpinning sencha’s great popularity and the unique characteristics that Yakushima’s terroir lends to it.

Looking at the dried tea you will see that it is more rustic: the fine green leaves are curved and variegated in colour, with some stems mixed in with them.

The tea is brews is full bodied and fresh with a beautiful mouthfeel. It’s oily, silky, palate-coating weight is soothing, and reminds us of how important texture is when it comes to tasting sencha. The dense liquor and sweet aftertaste makes this tea feel grounding, balancing the bright alertness that comes with green tea.

This Zairai is very balanced and pleasing to spend time with, much like the island of Yakushima.


Net weight 80g

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Brewing guide

Tea 3 g
Temperature 70°C
Water 200 ml
Steep time 15 - 60 sec
No. of infusions 4

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