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Shimada Japanese Black Tea Festival

Shimada Japanese Black Tea Festival

Sara Kauppila |

At different times of the year, all around Japan, various tea-related events are happening. A few weeks ago, a tea festival focused on black tea produced in Shizuoka was held in Shimada, Shizuoka. Dozens of farmers were presenting their unique products to an enthusiastic audience.



A lot of popular cultivars like Benifuuki were on offer, with many producers offering samples to compare the same cultivar from different harvests. The differences the production method, cultivar, area, and time of harvest make are really highlighted when comparing teas side by side. Alongside black teas with darker and more malty flavors, many producers were experimenting with cultivars and processing methods to create fragrant and floral black teas.

Some flavored teas were also on offer, with especially yuzu flavor being popular. Many of these producers are growing both the tea and yuzu. Alongside the more classic black teas, a few producers were experimenting with new types of black tea. Kaneroku Matsumoto-En presented their wide selection of different types of smoked black teas, which stood out with their unique and elegant flavors. 



Another interesting variation on the classic black tea was from a producer who was experimenting with "hojikoucha" a black tea roasted like a hojicha. This production method produced a tea with the richness of black tea with the comfortingly toasty edge of hojicha, creating a strong yet balanced tea experience.



Despite being held in a small town in Shizuoka, the event space was packed with visitors excited to taste and compare many different teas. Each producer was offering many teas to taste and compare. Sometimes they would have multiple different harvests from the same year of the same cultivar, allowing the visitors to experience how much of a difference just the picking season alone makes.

Hearing conversations between other visitors, one quickly also noticed that people were very divided on the tea they liked the best. For example, to some, the fragrant floral notes of a first-flush black tea were just what they were looking for, whereas for some a robust second-flush tea was much more to their liking. This highlights that while some teas are deemed more precious due to their production characteristics, from an individual's perspective, what truly matters is which tea has the kind of flavor they enjoy. Therefore, it is worth trying many different teas with different production methods, this way you can experience the beautiful variety tea has to offer and find your favorites.



Alongside tea tasting, there was also hand rolling of black tea on display. The wonderful aroma from the tea being rolled could be sensed even far away. Observing the careful rolling patterns one could see the skill and hard work that goes into producing hand-rolled teas.

Even outside of the venue, the tea theme continued. After walking past the booths of companies that produce tea-harvesting machinery, one arrived at an open area with a beautiful view of the surrounding landscape. The small town is surrounded by hills full of tea fields, pictured below.



Tea festivals are organized with different themes around Japan. If you get the chance to go, it is well worth it for anyone from a beginner to a tea enthusiast! Tea festivals are great opportunities to taste many teas, hear from the people who produced the teas, and discover interesting new teas.

But if you are outside of Japan, you can find many unique teas that you would come across at a tea festival on Yunomi's website. There are also sets that allow you to sample teas side by side, like you would at a tea event. With teas from Yunomi and extensive information provided on the website, you can enjoy tasting teas and learning about producers, production methods, tea types, and production areas from the comfort of your own home.


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