In the 1950s, Tsutomu KAWATO, a Benhomare grower in Kameyama won 11 MAFF Minister's Awards (the highest prize) at national tea competitions in 23 years, and export of Benihomare started taking full advantage of its world-class quality. The multiple-awarded cultivar gained an international reputation as a Japanese brand leader.
In its heyday, the total tea garden area covered 50 hectares with 97 tons production in Kameyama. Benihomare production was going to expand. However, more and more black tea farmers switched over to producing green tea likewise other tea regions in the face of harsh competitions in international market and the liberalization of imports. As time went by, Kameyama Benihomare virtually phased out.
New efforts have been on the way since 2013 by the people involved in tea production to rejuvenate the once-abandoned black tea in collaboration with Tea Science Branch of Mie Prefecture Agricultural Research Institute and other organizations.
This activity named "Kameyama Benihomare Koucha Fukkatsu Purojekuto" is designed to revive Benihothmare tea gardens which have miraculously survived these 40 years, and to replicate sophisticated tea processing techniques so as to put this unique cultivar back on the map.