About this collection:
Japanese black tea is gaining in popularity within and outside of Japan. Black tea is the most common kind of tea being produced throughout the world. This collection introduces some of the most uniquely Japanese black teas currently to be found.
What is a Japanese black tea (wa-kocha) and how is it distinguished from black tea variations produced elsewhere?
Green tea cultivars
Japan predominantly produces green tea. It isn't surprising that most tea bushes in Japan then are best suited to for the manufacturing of green tea. This means that those plants contain less bitterness as opposed to cultivars that are suitable for black tea. Producing black tea with green tea cultivars gives a lighter impression and a more outspoken aroma.
To maintain the traits of the lightness of the cultivars used to produce this tea, the majority of Japanese black tea products are not oxidised fully as is the case with most black teas available elsewhere. Oxidation is only allowed to progress partially and then halted, producing a tea that maintains an interesting balance between the cultivar's green tea traits, and the fragrance and aroma of a delicious black tea.
Variation for other tea products
Some manufacturers produce black tea in later seasons, after their initial green tea harvest and production in spring has been successfully concluded. For example, to safeguard his bushes from unnecessary stress, an organic matcha producer in Kyoto I am acquainted with harvests for tencha in spring. While this technically is the only harvest he obtains, some bushes require to be harvested again in Autumn. Instead of making lower grade matcha from this late harvest, he chooses to manufacture that tea as black tea. In doing so, he doesn't only give precedence to quality, but also does what is most healthy for his plants.