Since the 2019 season, I am finally starting to have a reactivity outside Japan towards Japanese black teas. It must be said that the selection is richer, as much, I think, in quantity as in quality, but also in diversity (from this point of view the five new items this month are particularly great).
As I said before, I don’t think Japan is becoming or should become a big black tea country. However, by remaining in a quality perspective, this remains a very interesting complementary asset to satisfy tea fanatics in general, and to bring some new relief to this industry in great difficulty that is tea in Japan.
Insofar as there is not a typical Japanese manufacturing method, some inspired by Ceylon, other by Indian teas, sometimes Taiwanese, the Japanese typical of black teas tastes come from the tea plants themselves, so cultivars. In addition to certain green tea varietals giving very nice things (Izumi, Kôshun, etc.) there are black tea dedicated varieties, Benifûki essentially, then Benihikari. Yet many other varieties of black tea were developed before these two, completely or almost never exploited. One could only imagine this hidden (not lost I hope) potential. It would be interesting for producers to draw on this reserve (interesting examples of Karabeni, or Izumi, an variety made for kama-iri never exploited, which was recently exhumed by a producer from Sashima and has become one of the stars of black tea in Japan).
But the cultivar is not everything, it brings an aromatic characteristic, but the technique remains essential. This is exactly what we can see with this delicious black tea from Sashima, made with Yabukita. While Yabukita is often considered to be unsuited to making black tea, this one is wonderful.
This is a first flush by Mr. Yoshida, well known for his Izumi mentioned above, of whom I also offer some sencha. And this Yabukita black tea comes from the same plantation as the excellent Sashima Yabukita sencha. Same harvest date also. In short, part of the same leaves was used to make a sencha and the other part to make a black tea. Each in their own genres are great teas.
The dry leaves smell of both cocoa and citrus. Fresh and deep, this fragrance is very pleasant and suggests a slight oxidation.
The infusion gives a beautiful light orange liqueur showing a light oxidation. The fragrance is sweet and slightly floral. First we feel the significant roasting, then we notice more richness, caramel, a little vanilla, invigorating citrus, a touch of anise.
In the mouth it is of course very sweet and mellow. The attack is very silky without any astringency. It is then that the sweet aromas of this tea arrive, with a slightly floral impression, and woody notes.
These aromas are then expressed forcefully in after-taste. This Yabukita black tea also gives a nice length on the palate.
At the same time very light and aromatically very rich, this black tea of Sashima is also very fine, without tannic character.