Oh how I love a good smoked black tea! Something about the smell of the dry leaves just speaks to something deep down in my soul that I can’t quite put into words. No other tea does that for me. I didn’t even know that smoked black Japanese tea (wakoucha) even existed until very recently when I saw it on the blog of someone I follow (Camellias Treaty). I thought it sounded like something I would like but could only find it in large quantities plus shipping costs. I was excited when I saw it on Harney & Sons website and it was offered in a sample size. I jumped on it and put in the cart right away. So for $3.00 ($2.40 with discount code) and free shipping I had to have it.
I used 4 grams in a gaiwan brewed gongfu style with 200F water for 10 seconds + 5 after a rinse. I must say the smell of the smoke was very powerful in the dry leaf, but the taste of smoke didn’t come through all that strong in the liquor. It was there, but not as prevalent as it is in other smoked teas that I have had. Depending on your preference this might be a good thing. The texture is medium to thick and there is very little to almost no bitterness or astringency, it’s very smooth. There was also a pretty long aftertaste that lingered in my mouth for a while, which was nice.
The first infusion didn’t really give me much, to my disappointment. I expected great things based on the smell of the dry leaf, but as I have learned, the dry leaf smell doesn’t always translate to the liquor in the cup. There was a hint of smoke and that was about it for the first infusion. But I didn’t give up on it, and I am glad for that. The 2nd infusion gave me a hint of honey sweetness and a bit of peaty and malty flavor, which I enjoyed. The third through fifth or so was fairly similar. An overall taste of smoke up front, smooth body, sweetness on the back and a long lingering finish. Really an enjoyable tea after it got warmed up a bit. After about 4 infusions it really started to get thinner and weaker, but this also made the sweetness more pronounced, which I didn’t expect. So you lose the body and the aroma, but you gain the sweetness. It was an interesting transition.
I went seven infusions, but as you can see, I think 5 is about the stopping point. Overall, this is a pretty good tea. It’s not the best smoked tea I have had, but I think it is a pleasant brew. It makes me want to try some different kinds of Japanese black teas.
I would say about 99% of the tea produced in Japan is green tea, so this is a relatively new category of tea, and it is exciting to see what they can come up with. I’m looking forward to a deep dive into Japanese teas, which I hope to do sometime in the future.
The price on this is $25 for 3 oz. (85 g) for a tin. $3 for a sample. If you take the smallest tin price, that is 4 grams per session which is 21 sessions in a tin. That’s $1.19 per session. 5 infusions per session and that comes to $.24 per 100ml infusion. It’s definitely worth trying to see if you really enjoy it, especially if you already know you like smoked tea like I do.