Tasting Sessions – Trying An Aged Japanese Black Tea For The First Time!

2021 is coming to an end now but we still have some time left and what better way to finish off the year than with another brand new (to me) tea experience. So today this post is going to document my first experience with a 2019 aged Japanese black tea, which again found it’s way to me by way of the amazing people at Yunomi Tea. The aged black tea in question is Tarui Tea Farm’s : 2019 Aged Shizuoka Black Tea.

”Artisanal tea farmer Takayuki Tarui’s black tea is cultivated pesticide free and without synthetic fertilizers. It is harvested in the last two weeks of June and “fermented” with Tarui-san’s own method to create a smooth flavor profile that doesn’t need to be sweetened. Tarui-san ages this tea in his warehouse dedicated to aging tea leaves, allowing the leaf to develop into a black tea that will leave you in smiles!” – Yunomi Tea

Cultivar : Karabeni (Karabeni is a black tea cultivar that was selected in 1956 at the Shizuoka Prefecture research center from tea tree seeds brought to Japan from Hubei Province in China. It was never officially registered, and is quite rare to find these days) | Harvest : Late June, 2019 | Region : Nearaicho, Shizuoka, Japan

For all of my sessions so far with this tea I have used my 400ml kyusu, 5g of the loose leaf, water at 95-100C and 3 minutes steeping time. I’ve experimented with the steeping perimeters a few times and so far I would say these are the ones that produce the best results. I normally re-steep the same leaves 3 times adding 30 secs to the steeping time each time I re-steeped.

The dry leaves are medium-small broken black-dark brown in colour and give off a aroma full of distinct notes like tobacco, malted milk / malted milk biscuits half dipped in milk chocolate, builders tea with milk and sugar, empty whisky barrels, a pile of wet autumn leaves, wet dark woods and cacao shells. You can definitely smell the aging on the dry leaves. I would love to age some of this further and see how it develops over the next few years.

Throughout all of my steeps during multiple session with this tea the most prominent note of them all was Malted Milk Biscuits. Each cup tasted as though it already had milk or single cream in it which coats the mouth with that creaminess, there were notes of dry dark woods, subtle smokiness, molasses, dark honey and plain digestive biscuits. There was some astringency on the front of the tongue but not too much, and it is slightly drying in the mouth but it’s not long tasting and only really dries the tongue for a small amount of time.

The creaminess lingers in the mouth along with tobacco notes, and a natural brown sugar esque natural sweetness and doesn’t need the addition of any sweetness at all. It’s a super smooth tea with a long finish, a dark copper coloured liquor and liquors aroma. It has notes of wet dark woods, sugarcane, dried apricots, oak barrels that have housed bourbon, a hint of vanilla and sandalwood all of which are also present in the aroma of the wet leaves.

The empty cups are also very similar, only the sugarcane and dried fruit notes are more in the foreground. It gets a little more astringent as it begins to cool but again it’s not long lasting at all. A dark cherry note did also start to emerge when the liquor began to cool as well as the astringency becoming more prevalent, so I would recommend letting this cool too much before sipping. Overall mouthfeel is smooth and sweet though.

The tea really does not need the addition of milk or sweetener for me as it has those notes are already present within it’s flavour profile because of the methods that have been used to aged it. But for the sake of this post I did an experiment and added in some soya milk which pairs fantastically with it, but the only downside is that it does diminish some of it’s subtler notes.

The honey did a great job of amplifying the sweetness but again does overpower some of the subtler notes. While I would recommend drinking this tea on it’s own, if you would rather add milk and sugar to your black tea just know it does hold its ground well but will affect the flavour profile so maybe make sure you try it both ways before making the decision. All in all it really just depends on what you want to get from this tea.

Overall I love what this tea has to offer and I was quite shocked to have finally found a Japanese black tea that didn’t have a sweet potato note as they normally all always have that note somewhere in their flavour profile. Just like the aged oolong I recently tried for the first time, this was another fantastic experience and it really just goes to show that this is some fantastic experimental work going on within the Japanese tea industry. I’m so thankful to have been given the opportunity to try out these teas and showcase to you all that the Japanese tea industry really is more than just the phenomenal green teas they have perfected over so may years.

I look forward to hopefully being able to showcase more of these teas to you over the next few years should I be given the opportunity to do so. As always if you have any questions at all either stick them in the comments of this post or send them to me over on Instagram @kimberleyskyusu and I’ll do my best to answer them all as quickly as possible. Should yo want to purchase this tea to try yourself, you can do that here. Remember to use the code START20 to get 20% off you order.

Until next time, Happy Steeping & Happy Holidays – Kimberley

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