Smoked black tea from Shizuoka, 2015

Last year the smoked black tea by Mr. Matsumoto (Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture) was well received in my selection for Thés du Japon. So it is natural that I restock it in its 2015 vintage. It’s still a second harvest black tea, Yabukita cultivar, smocked using wood from Japanese whiskey barrels.

While 2014 was similar to “broken leaf” type, this year this is a whole leaf tea, finely rolled.
The scent is particularly powerful, heavily smoked. It is a warm fragrance of chimney fire, smoked ham, peat, and a little fruity.
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A typical western style infusion, 4g, 150-180ml, 2-3minutes will do wonders, giving the liquor very rich aroma and flavor in mouth without the heavy “sweetness” of a lot of Japanese black teas, which flow smoothly in the throat, with lots of after and length. This Japanese smoked black tea gives us even the luxury of a second excellent brew.

But a preparation with little water and multiple infusions remains very interesting to dissect the different flavors of this tea.
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In this way, the first infusion is (obviously??) the most rich and interesting. Smoke is very powerful of course, but there is also bitter orange, cocoa, and a slight sweetness that finds a balance with smoked flavors.
On the palate, it is a light and refreshing liquor, with some astringency that reminds of orange notes. Smoked and peaty aromas especially appear in the after.
There is a very good length, smoked and slightly fruity.
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In the second infusion, the smoked flavor is still very strong, but softer, with little vanilla aromas.
In the mouth it is very close to the first brew, still without any heaviness, and very efficient in the after and length.

With the third infusion, we see black tea spicy aromas taking a larger share toward the smoky scent.
Paradoxically, in the mouth the flavors seem to start to weaken while the smoke impression always endures.
This is the direction in which we continue to move with the 4th infusion.
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This tea is confirmed as rich in flavor, very pure and silky in the throat. It is understandable as it is expressed primarily in the nasal cavity and throat, always with as much length over successive several infusions.
Of course, those who do not like the smoked taste, very strong here, shall refrain, but for others, this tea is a real treat, with something very addictive.
Also, I will not detail here but it is interesting to see how with cold infusions one can also glimpse more clearly the peaty whiskey flavors. We could have 3 excellent cold brew with this smoked black tea from Shizuoka. A must try!!

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