What is Wakoucha?
Wakoucha (和紅茶) is Japanese Black tea. Thinking about Japanese tea, at first one would not think of black
tea. In comparison to green tea’s long history of production, the manufacture of black tea in Japan was introduced only 150 years ago. Therefore its origin goes back to the Meiji period, the time when Japan began to open up to the rest of the world.
Koucha actually means red tea’. It is named after its colour as the brewed tea displays a dark red colour. This is because Japanese water is low in lime content and therefore is so-called ‘soft water’.
Koucha is a fully oxidised tea. After the harvest the leaves are first withered before further processing. By the subsequent rolling of the tea leaves, the cell structure is broken down which enhances the following oxidaton process.
As black tea is a recent discovery in Japan only about 300 farmers are producing Koucha throughout the country and is therefore a specialist product.
There are only around 300 tea farmers producing black tea in Japan, and one of them lives right next door here in Wazuka. Sugimoto-san started making black tea, known as wakoucha in Japan, about five years ago. Now, to the surprise of many traditional tea farmers, it has become a huge part of his life.