Okay, while not actually made of unicorns, this mellow and sweet Japanese black tea is only slightly less rare. Did you know almost all tea produced in Japan is green tea? That includes sencha, gyokuro, genmaicha, hōjicha, and even the well-known matcha. Because it’s so rare, I was super excited to try this Japanese Black from World Tea House.
Japanese Farmers Experimenting with Black Tea
I picked this up in the late spring from World Tea House, one of my favourite tea spots in Halifax. The owner, Phil, is one of my favourite local tea people. Drop in, say hi, and try some of his tea! If you’re a real tea nerd, you won’t find a better local person to chat over tea with. Phil will straighten you out about first flushes, second flushes, steep times, and THE MEANING OF IT ALL.
Because Japanese black tea is so rare (less than 1% of all tea produced in Japan), I was really excited when I saw this on Phil’s shelf as part of his Masters Collection. You can check out the World Tea House shop here, or drop by and visit them on Argyle Street in Halifax across from Neptune Theatre.
The Kinezuka family makes this black tea—they run a small, 2 hectare organic tea farm in Shizuoka, one of Japan’s famous tea-growing regions. The Kinezuka fields are in Nakayama Village, up in the mountains near Fujieda city. It’s about a two and a half hour drive south of Tokyo.
The Kinezuka farm, headed by Toshiaki Kinezuka, started in the ’70s and is one of Japan’s pioneering organic tea farms. His daughter, Ayumi, studied tea production in Sri Lanka (a large black tea producing country) and she’s used her knowledge to create this tea. Many tea farmers experimenting with Japanese black tea production are also looking at methods outside Japan, since traditional Japanese techniques for fermenting and creating tea are all based around green tea creation.
This seems like a good place to mention that World Tea House’s catalogue of teas is also all organic.
A Sweet Companion to Your Japanese Sweets
So, if you couldn’t tell by the last paragraph I got a little nerdily excited by the origins of this tea. I thought I’d try pairing it with some fun sweets like strawberry pocky from Japan, and salted and sweet corn.
This delicate, warm, red tea paired well with sweets, although I think the super sugary ones I choose might have been a bit much. This would pair nicely with a treat like Japanese mochi (餅) that has a milder sweetness. The pocky and popcorn combo was more like a sugar punch in the mouth. This tea would make a great accompaniment to some afternoon snacks.
Fun Fact! Black tea in Japanese is called ‘red tea,’ or kōcha (紅茶 ).
World Tea House Masters Collection – Japanese Black
The leaves were short, small, and curled, with dark brown and mahogany highlights. Dry they had a smell like sweet bran.
The liquor was a pleasant reddish amber. The taste was earthy, with a hint of molasses. Not full-bodied, but a nice mouth feel with low astringency.
Preparation: Water heated to 95˚, steeped for 5 minutes.