Other than Hojicha or Bancha, roasting is not a common process in Japan for most of its standard teas. Most often roasting is done simply to increase the appeal of a lower quality tea leaf that otherwise would be rather uninteresting to drink. Yōichi nevertheless has often experimented with using roasting as a method to enhance the flavor of an already delicious black tea or oolong. And in previous years I have shared his amazing roasted oolong teas and surprisingly sweet roasted black teas with my customers. This roasted wakocha is certainly no exception.
・Origin: Gokase, Miyazaki, Japan (single estate).
・Farmer: Yōichi Kōrogi.
・Cultivar: Yamanami cultivar.
・Harvest: Spring, 2021.
・Type: Wakōcha black tea / loose leaf.
Additional tasting notes
The tea’s small curly black leaves show a wealth of hues. From beneath its glossy surface we can distinguish black, brown, purple, red and orange tints. The tea in itself is already very pretty to look at, and bringing it to under the nose one may already begin to appreciate its somewhat chocolaty sweet fragrance. I might approach this one more as an oolong and employ a somewhat shorter infusion time (40 sec) for the first brew. A beautiful red-orange liquor appears. The tea now slightly unfurled still shows a whole lot of potential for successive steepings. The liquor feels warm and cloaking inside the mouth.
The slight green hue in the unfurled tea leaf also indicates a lighter form of oxidising, which is common in Wakocha. This also explains why we distinguish some traits of hay or grass in the flavor of the tea, similar to what we may experience in green tea.
For the second brew I stick with a shorter 40 sec to under the minute steeping time. I feel that with this tea I too want to enjoy it as it envelopes gradually, rather than to force all flavor and aroma into one thorough brew. The hay-like greenness has disappeared and a more woody smokiness comes to the fore. The tea also turns slightly more dry inside the mouth and back of the throat.
Even at the third infusion the liquor does not lose in color. It retains its thick red hue and also its fragrant aroma remains. It is likely that trained drinkers of Chinese and Taiwanese teas may find this tea more interesting after the second brew onward, and may want to continue steeping it for several more brews.
|Cultivar chart: Yamanami|
|Origin: Selected from seed-grown tea trees cultivated in Japan, using seeds from tea cultivars used in Hubei province in China..|
Specifications: Vertical growth. Strong life energy. Produces an elliptical leaf with a pale green color. Strong resistance against cold and diseases. Yield is extraordinarily large and steady. Especially favorable for the manufacturing of pan-fired teas.
|Registration: Registered in 1965 as no. 27 on the MAFF list of cultivars.|
Category: Middle grower favorable for Gyokuro and pan-fired teas.
・Amount of tea ：4~5g
・Steep duration：90 sec.
Suggested no. of infusions: [3+]
Don’t hesitate to enjoy the aromas of the dry leaf before brewing to savor the tea’s unique scents. Also warm the tealeaf in a pre-heated teapot before adding water and savor the scent. Taking these steps helps to build anticipation towards savoring the brew. After brewing, smell the wet leaf first and experience how the fragrance differences between the dry-cold, dry-warm, and wet stages of the same leaf.
I suggest a slightly longer (90 sec) duration for the first brew to release enough of its flavor and aroma. For the second brew I tend to take 2 minutes. Even though the steeping durations are rather long, the tea will continue releasing aroma for several more steepings. Try to experiment with it and see how many brews you get out of this tea.