Withering in black tea making process

March 26, 2014

–Black tea expert Hiroshi Okamoto of Creha Tea Shop wrote about a black tea workshop where he gave a talk.

tea-tasting

The other day, I had a chance to talk about the withering process at a black tea workshop in the Minamata Ashikita area.
I’m just a teahouse owner and don’t really feel like it’s my place to talk to producers about the processing of tea. And I do get nervous every time, but since this is such a significant part of the tea making process, I feel it is important that they learn from experience.

Producers would all say that withering is the most critical step, but not many of them use resources such as space, effort, and money accordingly.

At this workshop, I asked producers who make similar varieties of teas and use a similar tea leaf processing method to do a tasting of the teas processed using different withering methods.

What I want to say is that normally we are not supposed to do what is called, “forced withering”, which is reducing the moisture content from the leaves using a tea scattering dryer before the withering progresses. But I can understand why one might feel the urge to reduce moisture content by forced withering because of weather, space issues in the factory, or the rhythm of life.
In the event that forced withering is used, we have to understand that the quality will be reduced, how the quality is reduced, and infrequently, but in some places overseas, they use the process of reducing moisture content forcefully for its efficiency, and that these are used as inexpensive black teas for the mass market. I prepared the tasting session hoping that they would understand these things by experiencing them.

They say that withering reduces about 40% of the total moisture weight. But this figure is just an estimate, and the true purpose is to go through the process so that leaf cells can be ready to become black teas. Moisture reduction is something that comes as a result of this process.

It’s not going to be a warming up exercise if you just elevate your heart rate without doing some stretching. Similarly, short distance sprinting and long distance running would need different methods of preparation. The withering method is also different depending on what kinds of black teas you want to make using which types of leaves.

Fortunately everyone who attended this workshop was full of passion. I’m confident that they will make surprisingly amazing black teas.

If they can make me say “Please, let me purchase your black teas,” then they could sell them at any price.
Even tastier Ashikita and Minamata black teas.

Please look forward to the day you see them.

CREHA TEA PRODUCTS

 先日、水俣芦北地区の紅茶勉強会にて、萎凋についてのお話しをさせていただきました。
 単なるお茶屋さん風情が生産者さんに製造のお話しをするのはおこがましく、毎回緊張しているのですが、どうしも大事な事ですので皆さんに体験してもらう事にしました。
 萎凋が一番大事、これは生産者の皆様誰もがおっしゃいますが、それでも一番それにスペース、労力、費用をかけている人は少ない。
 今回は同じ品種、同じような製法をされている方同士で、萎凋の仕方が違うもの同士をティスティングしてもらいました。
 萎凋が進まない時に、葉打ち機などで水分を飛ばす、いわゆる「強制萎凋」と呼ばれるものは、本来はやってはいけない、と言いたいところです。しかし、天候、工場のスペースの問題、生活のリズムなどでどうしても強制萎凋で水分を飛ばしたくなる気持ちは、まあ、判らんでもないです。
 ただ、強制萎凋した場合に、品質はまず下がるという事、それが一体どういう風に下がるのかという事、海外でもまれに効率を重視するために強制的に水分を飛ばす工程をしている事、そしてそれは安い量販用の紅茶として使われているという事、そういった事を体験してもらいたいと思い、ティスティングをしてもらいました。
 萎凋は水分を重量で全体の40%前後を飛ばす、と言われます。しかし、その数値はあくまで目安であり、本来の目的はお茶の葉の細胞内で紅茶になるための準備が行われている過程を経る事。水分減はその結果として出てくるものです。
 柔軟をせずに心拍数だけ上げても準備体操にならないと同じであり、短距離走と長距離走では準備も違うのと同様、どんな葉っぱをどんな紅茶に仕上げたいのか、によって萎凋のやり方もまた変わってくるでしょう。
 幸い、今回された方は皆様、熱意のある方ばかり。きっと私がびっくりする紅茶を作ってくれると思っています。
 私に「すみません、この紅茶をお願いですから仕入れさせてください」そう言わせることが出来れば値段はつけ放題でしょう。
 さらに美味しい芦北、水俣の紅茶。
 皆様にお目する日をお待ちくださいませ。

The post Withering in black tea making process appeared first on YUNOMI.




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