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横瀬の紅茶

横瀬町茶業組合

BLACK TEA ~Yokoze-made

Yokoze Town Tea Industry Association

Yokoze tea, a fragrant tea hand-made in a mountainous region

Yokoze town has produced tea since the Edo era. The tea produced in this region has been known for its good fragrance for a very long time. Yokoze town is a mountainous region with cold winters, and the tea farms were spread out and not concentrated. This led to the region’s tea leaves being produced without pesticides, which is very rare. Thanks to suitable terrain and weather, safe and delicious tea has been produced here for a very long time.

However, because the farms are also located on mountain slopes, farm work such as tea-picking was mostly done by hand. This limited the amount of tea that could be produced, which impacted profitability. Many farms have gone out of business compared to peak times, but an idea to produce black tea from Nibancha (second picking tea leaves) was devised to keep producing this fragrant tea for customers who enjoy carefully grown tea.

Although the same tea leaves are used to create black tea, the actual manufacturing process is very different from green tea. In green tea, the raw leaves are steamed to obtain their fragrance, while for black tea, the leaves are dried naturally and then rolled. The rolling process generates heat that helps oxidation. The leaves are then packed into cloth that also helps oxidation and adds fragrance. “Subtle changes in the oxidation and drying process are key to good black tea,” says Mr. Masao Akaiwa, director of the Yokoze town Tea Producer’s Association. “We are continuing to improve our processes on a daily basis since we started making black tea six years ago to find the perfect cup of tea.”

“If you just pack tea leaves after picking, they will rot and just become fertilizer. If you spread them around, they lose their fragrance. Tea is very delicate in this way. Black tea that is one step just before rotting has the best fragrance, but the person making the tea needs to have experience to achieve this balance. The weather and temperature also impact the process, so the outcome of each harvest is different every year. Tea is a living thing, and that is why it is so difficult and fun to produce.”

“The key to a good cup of black tea is to pour hot water immediately after it boils into a pot containing black tea leaves,” says Ms. Mayumi Akaiwa, a black tea coordinator. The tea will taste completely differently compared to using water that has been boiled a second time. “Yokoze’s black tea has very little bitterness, so I recommend that you drink the first cup straight. You can brew the second cup stronger and add milk or sugar.”

LOVE point

Yokoze town black tea is gently dried while avoiding irritation to the tea leaves. Thus, the bitterness that is characteristic of teas is very moderate and the taste is very soft.

PRODUCT information

PRODUCT NAME

BLACK TEA ~YOKOZE-made

OUTLINE

Soft flavor black tea made at the tea plantation in mountain foot of Mt.Bukou, Chichibu

SPEC

2size(3g×3packs / 3g×10packs), tea leaves from Yokoze Town

PRICE

3packs ¥360(tax out)  10packs ¥1,150(tax out)

Company Info

Company Name Yokoze Town Tea Industry Association URL http://www.asugakibou.com/ocha.html

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