NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea from Tealet Teas (NaturaliTea Co.)

On August 2nd of 2013, I tasted a sample of Japanese Black Tea. This sample was provided by Tealet Teas. To learn more about Tealet Teas, please visit their new and improved website by clicking here.

Tealet has built personal relationships with tea farmers from multiple countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Taiwan, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Korea, as well as the United States, and continues to search the planet for high quality farms to work with. Tealet provides a direct connection between tea buyers and the tea farmers, allowing tea buyers to purchase high quality teas, as well as giving the tea farmers an international platform from which they can sell their teas. Rather than simply seeing a certification stamp for organic teas or fair trade practices and deciding to do business based on those certifications alone, Tealet is committed to farms that demonstrate exceptional transparency in their farming and production practices. Certifications can be expensive, and many small artisan tea farmers are not able to afford them. Therefore, even if they do practice organic farming and fair trade ethics, which many of them do, they may not have the “credentials” to display. However, their teas are often times a very high quality and unique product. Thankfully, companies like Tealet are aware of the reality of the organic and fair trade certification programs, and have decided to do their own homework on tea farms. Thus, they have sources that provide teas that are not like what the other companies often offer.

This particular sample of Japanese Black Tea was sourced from the NaturaliTea Company, in Fujieda, Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. According to Tealet’s website profile on NaturaliTea, this small family run tea farm has been operating for about thirty-six years, and uses organic and natural tea farming practices. The Japanese tea industry is best known for their green tea production, but many Japanese farmers are experimenting with black tea production. Knowing that each region produces its own distinct taste of teas, I was quite excited to try this Japanese Black Tea. To view Tealet’s grower profile on NaturaliTea, click here.

Now, on to the review.

Tea Review and Analysis Form

Date:  08/02/2013

Product:  Japanese Black Tea
Purchased From:  Tealet Teas
Type of Tea:  Japanese Black TeaOrigin of Tea:  NaturaliTea Company, Fujieda, Shizuoka, JapanTea Leaf Characteristics Prior to Infusion:

NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea Dry Leaves
NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea Dry Leaves
Aroma:   Sweet, malty, lightly cocoa, vegetal.Dryness:  Quite dry. Leaves crack easily, break in to coarse crumbling.Color(s):  Dark brown to black. Stems are light brown. No golden tips.

Texture:  Fairly smooth, twisted, curled leaves.

Sizes and Shapes:  Appear to be all leaf fragments and stems. No full leaves. Average length of 1/3 inch (8.38 mm).

Unique Characteristics:  The aroma is certainly different than black teas from other regions of the world.

Sampling Measurements:

Amount of Water:  8 oz (227 ml)
Amount of Tea:  3 grams

Tea Liquor Evaluation:

First Infusion:

NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea - 1st Infusion
NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea – 1st Infusion
Water Temperature:  205ºF  (96ºC)
Steep Time:  3 Minutes and 0 secondsAroma:  Mildly malty, vegetal.Color:  Lively amber.

Taste:  Malty, but not overpowering. Medium body. Vegetal, grassy, some bitterness. Lingering aftertaste.

Comments:  The initial infusion of this tea highlights the region that this black tea originated from. The vegetal taste,  and what I perceived as bitterness, reminded me of a Japanese green tea. Definitely a unique twist on black tea.

Second Infusion:

NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea - 2nd Infusion
NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea – 2nd Infusion
Water Temperature:  205ºF  (96ºC)
Steep Time:  3 Minutes and 30 secondsAroma:  Lightly malty, vegetalColor:  Slightly lighter amber than first infusion.

Taste:  Lighter malty and vegetal tastes. Less bitterness. Lighter body and not as strong aftertaste.

Comments:  The taste of the second infusion was overall noticeably lighter than the first. The positive side of this being the reduction of bitterness. This second infusion did not have the punch that the first infusion had. For some tea drinkers, this is an improvement. For those who like the punch, the second infusion will not be as good as the first.

Third Infusion:

NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea - 3rd Infusion
NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea – 3rd Infusion

Water Temperature:  205ºF  (96ºC)

Steep Time:  4 Minutes and 0 seconds

Aroma:  Very light malty.

Color:  Orange – light amber.

Taste:  Lighter overall taste and body than the second infusion. Less bitter, less vegetal. Lighter aftertaste.

Comments:  I am not sure if seasoned tea drinkers would consider the third infusion a worthy cup. The taste is quite  light in comparison to the first, and even second, cup. The photo illustrates how much color alone this infusion lost. I  do not believe it is able to produce a fourth infusion.

Leaf Characteristics After Infusions:

NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea - Infused Leaves
NaturaliTea Japanese Black Tea – Infused Leaves

Color:  Light to dark greens, light to dark brown.

Sizes and Shapes:  All leaf fragments, some stems. No full leaves.

Unique Characteristics:  Looks just like a Japanese green tea looks post infusions, just oxidized. Slightly malty aroma.

Final Comments:  I am always happy to try a new type of tea. This Japanese Black Tea was just that. It was certainly different than any other black tea that I have tried. If you enjoy Japanese green tea, and also enjoy the more common black teas on the market, then I think you will enjoy the Japanese Black Tea, since it resembles tastes from both of those two tea types. Since black tea production is relatively new to Japan, I believe it may take some time before their black teas are as widely accepted and appreciated as some of the more established varieties. However, I expect the Japanese to quickly develop many interesting and tasteful new twists on traditional black teas. Although I cannot say that this tea is an instant favorite of mine, I can say that I will be looking forward to trying more Japanese black teas. Please do give this tea a try, and perhaps you will be introduced to an instant favorite. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to sample this tea, Tealet Teas and NaturaliTea. I am looking forward to sampling your other products within the next couple of days.