Japan started to produce Wakoucha in the early 1900s. It was a rare product made specifically for export. Due to the fast developments in the tea industry in China, India, and Sri Lanka, it was difficult for Japan to compete in the international market and its black tea production slowly faded away. During the last 50 years production of Japanese black tea is quite rare and limited by various factors. Nevertheless, Japanese black tea exists and is famous among connoisseurs for its unique and incomparable taste. Made from special local cultivars, Benifuki is famous for its delicate, mild taste and its pleasant aroma.
Made from the Benifuki cultivar, which is best suited for black tea production, this tea has a soft and tender taste with a gentle aroma. It goes through a complex production process, thanks to which, this tea is fully oxidised and provides an intense and deep taste. The aroma is full of berry and honey notes with bakery nuances. The taste is mellow and sweet, with notes of wood, dried fruits, and oats. The empty cup has a sweet caramel fragrance. Due to this tea being quite crushed after the production process, I recommend making short infusions and cooling down the water to 90-95 °C to have a less bitter taste.
It is considered that Japanese black tea gets better with time. The taste will develop character and get more gentle and tender.
This is a great choice for a quiet Japanese 'Sencha Do' ceremony or as an 'Afternoon tea' paired with some sandwiches, scones with condiments, and desserts. Since this black tea is considered more delicate when compared to Sri Lankan or Indian tea, Benifuki can be appreciated without milk. It perfectly pairs with light desserts, fruits, dried fruits, and nuts. It can make a wonderful duet with cognac and help to reveal the woody and spicy notes.