Cultivated Varieties of Japanese Tea - Zairai

Zairai | 在来

  • The term 在来 (zairai) translates to "native species" or a species that has already existed in a particular region. This is why you will be able to find zairai native to Wazuka Town, Uji, Shizuoka, and other famous tea-production regions in Japan.
  • Zairai tea trees are cultived from seeds and not from cuttings.
  • The appearance of a zairai tea field would not appear 'uniform' as each tea tree possess different characteristics.

Uji Zairai is native to the Wazuka Town, and the Kyoto Prefecture. In fact, several other cultivars such as samidori and gokou have were cut from zairai tea trees.

The zairai tea trees in our field each possess their own set of different characteristics including their shape and colour of their leaves. This makes the end blend a brew with an extremely pure and natural taste.

The multiple characteristics of the zairai however, is also part of the reason some tea farmers shun away as managing the varying growth rates of the tea trees can be difficult.

One advantage that zairai tea fields have over their cutting counterparts is their taproot. This is because zairai tea trees are planted from seedlings.

The taproot is the main root of the primary root system and the first root to grow from when the seed germinates. The taproot of a zairai tea tree often grows thick and straight into the ground.

This expands the total surface area of the tree’s roots allowing the plant to expand and tap into water and minerals deeper in the ground.


The deep earthy aroma of a cup of zairai can also be attributed to their taproot. As the root grows deep into the ground, the nutrients and scent from the soil is more readily absorbed and retained.


The diversity of the zairai tea trees makes this variety extremely suitable for organic farming, or farming without the use of pesticide. Zairai tea trees are extremely resistant to diseases and pests.

At d:matcha Kyoto, our zairai tea field in Yubune is located next to the river. If you look carefully, you will be able to see different shades of green on the tea trees - similar to a checkered or spotted pattern. This difference in colour indicates the unique characteristics of each zairai tea tree.