Milder Black Tea

Ad posters for "Kaga no Kocha"
Generally speaking, the characteristic of black tea is to have bitterness, which makes the tea special. But, that isn’t always the case in terms of Japanese black tea, known as wakocha.

Overall, wakocha has milder and lighter. Why? That’s because of tea variety.  Wakocha is usually made from the Chinese variety (the same as green tea with less tannin) or hybrid crossed with Assam variety which usually produces black tea with substantial bitterness. So, the taste of teas made from the varieties with less tannin is relatively milder. For those who don’t like the bitterness, it is good news. You don’t need to add milk or sugar to make it milder. As you may call it "self-drinker", you can drink without milk and sugar, which is healthier. Don’t get me wrong. I also do love tea with milk! I mean, the more choices, the better. 
"Shimanto RED"

As I mentioned on my last blog, about 400kinds of wakocha are on the market now, and the taste varies depending on the variety and the process. After all, wakocha is not only one. That’s why it is interesting.

Mr. Okamoto, the owner of wakocha shop "Kureha" -tea booth at the summit-

*Pictures are taken at the Japanese black tea summit on Nov 23&24, 2012 by tomo




Past, Present and Future - Japanese Black Tea -

Ad poster of black tea summit in Takahashi 2012
 A Japanese black tea summit was held in Takahashi city, Okayama prefecture on the 23rd and 24th of November, 2012. It was the 11th time. You may be surprised that Japan produces black tea in addition to green tea. Believe it or not, around 400 kinds of Japanese black tea, known as wakocha (lit: Japanese black tea) or jikocha (lit; local black tea), are on the market now.

Strictly speaking, Japanese black tea is not a newcomer. It was one of Japan’s main export items a long time ago. Its history dates back to 1870’s. Since black tea was more popular than green tea in the world then, the government pushed the production forward. As a result, about 8,525 tons of black tea was produced at peak period, in 1955. (During the wartime, production went down, though.) However, it came to lose its competitiveness in terms of price and quality and the production dropped. In addition, the restriction on the foreign trade of tea was removed in 1971, which made the situation much worse. Finally, the production reduced to only three tons in 1975.

Since the 1990s, black tea began to come back once again. More and more farmers have gradually been working on its production. One of the reasons is a decline of green tea consumption caused by the spread of bottled tea and the change of our diet. A lot of people, especially younger generation, prefer bottled tea than tea from a teapot because of convenience. Westernized dishes, which don’t go well with green tea, are served at our tables more often. In order to break with the status quo, the farmers have started to feel their way through this new challenge.

sampling space
Amid this situation, the summit was first started 11 years ago for the farmers to work hard together for better black tea. At first, the participants were only tea-related people, but in 2012 it was a much larger-scale and more like a festival supported by the municipality. Not only tea people but also a lot of consumers enjoyed a sampling session, a tea café and a tea booth where the customers could buy wakocha from the farmers at the site. For tea people, there were several symposia and seminars by specialists including Mr.Kanzo Sakata (Emeritus Professor of Kyoto University), Mr.Takeshi Isobuchi (Tea specialist) and Mr. Niroku Muramatsu (Leading expert of black tea). Various topics such as production, marketing and the future of wakocha, all of which were really valuable and meaningful, were discussed.

At this point, wakocha is creating a buzz because it’s rare and new. But soon, it will not be purchased just because of its novelty. Its specialty and originality, to say nothing of quality, will be a must for it to survive in the future. Japanese black tea is evolving steadily. The sales are increasing surely. The tea helps revitalize the rural economy, too. Black tea could be the icebreaker of a “Japanese tea Renaissance”.

Tea cafe

                                                                                                                                       special thanks AH


Matcha helps Gray hair!?

Does Matcha help dye to conceal gray hair??? It seems it does.

A beauty salon in Kyoto has started this service. According to the report, catechin in tea can absorb coloring matter when oxidizing. This new method takes fully advantages of the tea feature. Also, it won’t cause inflammation on the scalp as it happens sometime due to an acid dye.

The lady who experienced this service said this; “The aroma of matcha lasted another a couple of days after dying, which really relaxed me.”

Would you like to try?

Photo by Asahi Shinbun Disital


Oyatsu Time!

Tea time means “o-yatsu” in Japanese and refers to 3:00pm in general. Strictly speaking, it used to be around 2:00pm and gradually became 3:00pm. Why is that?

In olden times, people used to have meals twice a day. At that time, farmers would have another snack between those meals to maintain their energies. The break time was usually “yatsu-doki” (the traditional Japanese time system), which means around 2:00pm. “O-yatsu” was named after the time called “yatsu-doki”.

Nowadays we have three meals a day. Therefore, “o-yatsu” came to refer to snack other than meals and 3:00pm. What time is your “o-yatsu” time?



TEAtopia Festival in Wazuka town

Visitors and a mascot -photo by T-
Teatopia festival was held at Wazuka town, one of the highest-quality tea producing areas, in Kyoto.

Under the theme “Delivering charm of tea from the tea field!”, lots of tea companies both from home and abroad set up their booths at the site. Also, various kinds of foods and sweets used tea leaves were sold at the stalls there. Those included tea-pizza, tea-noodles, tea-cookies, tea-dumplings, tea-curry and tea cutlet. Make you hungry, don’t they? Not only that. After drinking and eating a lot, I am sure some visitors needed an exercise. In that case, they joined a tea-field walking tour. An ideal for outing, it must have been a perfect for the tour.

During the two-day festival, around 2,000 people were really steeped in the tea day!
Thanks for tasty dumplings! -photo by T-