I already offer on Thés du Japon a selection of teas from Ureshino by Mr. Ôta, tamaryokucha and kama-iri cha. Here are two black teas that seemed to me, each for different reasons very interesting.
Japanese black tea is a type of tea I had put aside for a while, this is a genre where so much remains to be done. However, the level increases gradually, and after seeing at the Nihon-cha Awards 2015 that black tea was the most represented genre (for better or worse) after fukamushi-cha (I think this piece of sentence says a lot about the current state of Japanese tea in Japan), it seemed to me that it was impossible to ignore this “phenomenon” anymore.
Here are two black teas from summer crops.
The first is a 2013 vintage Benifûki cultivar, and the other a 2015 vintage Fuji-kaori cultivar.
Benifûki is probably the most famous Japanese black tea cultivar. Registered in 1993, it is a crossbreed between Benihomare (first Japanese black tea cultivar registered in 1953, which was selected from a Assamica type Indian variety seed) and a Chinese variety (Cd86).
This 2013 vintage tea is simply very fine, generally without oxidation defect, while the 2014 and 2015 versions seemed to me less mastered. This is the biggest problem with the black teas and oolong teas types production in Japan, instability of quality.
The flavors and scents of this black tea that are dominated by leather and candied fruit. Especially in the nose, there are warm dry herbal scents.
In the mouth, with a touch of tannic astringency, just what’s need a black tea in my opinion, the liquor has power and volume. Then comes a reminiscent of citrus, slightly bitter first, then more fruity, sweet then.
It is a very rich bouquet of flavors offered by this Benifûki from Ureshino.
The strength of the liquor, its impact in the mouth, change of course depending on infusion parameters. This Japanese black tea is very flexible, allowing several infusion type.
With Fuji-kaori, we have a radically different black tea. Fuji-kaori is a crossbreed between Yabukita and Shizu-Inzatsu 131, the latter, although green tea cultivar is the result of crossing a variety from Assam and a Japanese variety. Fuji-kaori is also a green or semi-fermented tea cultivar. It is known for its fragrance evoking that of jasmine. Mr. Ôta uses the first harvest to make a kama-iri cha (still available on Thés du Japon at the time I’m writing this) and the second harvest for this extraordinary and unique black tea, that could be produced only in Japan.
We have a tea with fresh scent, slightly spicy and very floral, clearly emphasize the character of this unusual cultivar.
The mouth is slightly astringent, and include without too much emphasis the characteristic sweetness of Japanese black teas (especially of black teas products with green tea cultivars?). But ultimately, the latter characteristic rather undesirable with usual black teas, is here in good balance with amazing floral aroma of this tea.
This tea is very interesting because it manages to transform the faults of some Japanese black teas into rich aromatic qualities.
Both of these black teas from Ureshino have very distinct features. Very different, they seem to both be excellent models of typical Japanese black teas.