Wakocha, Japanese black tea, is a trend in Japanese tea industry, attracting me very much. The other day, we had Wakocha tasting get-togethers at a Japanese tea café, "Cha-En" in Osaka. I didn’t expected that many, but I tasted as many as 26 kinds in total on the day. What a lot!!
Then, what’s wakocha like??
I am afraid that it’s too various to define.
Why so different?
One of the biggest reason, I believe, is a wide rages of tea varieties. Some are made from the small-leaved Chinese variety, usually suit for Sencha, Matcha or Gyokuro. ( i.e. Yabukita, Saemidori and Sayamakaori). Others are used hybrid type with the large-leaved Assam variety. (i.e, Benifuki, Benihomare and Benihikari). Different variety creates different taste, flavor and tea color.
But, on the whole, I found out an interesting key to enjoy Wakocha. More steeping will get more taste, not too bitterness. Usually, black teas such as Darjeeling and Uva are steeped for 3-5 minutes. (It depends on the tea shapes, of course, but…) Steeping too long, you wouldn’t be able to drink it because tea will become too bitter. But, interestingly, Wakocha will not get strong astringency even if it is steeped more than 10 minutes. I rather enjoyed longer-steeped tea in general. Also, the tea color remains clear even if it leaves for a while, It won’t become cloudy. This seems to happen because the tea leaves used for the tea have less tannin and more umami. Also, what makes me happy is there are more Wakocha go well with milk than I expected.
I tasted so many kinds of Wakocha. Yet, there are more. They are not always great, but improved a lot. When you have a chance to try Wakocha, why don't you brew it for 10 minutes or more?