Taste of Tea :: Wakoucha from High Garden

Hey there, tea drinkers! I hope you had a great weekend. Today’s post is another Taste of Tea entry in which I’ll relay my tea-tasting journal entry for the Wakoucha loose leaf tea from High Garden. This is the first Japanese black tea that I’ve come across, making it an interesting find (I had never even thought to search for a Japanese black tea). So when I discovered it on the shelf at High Garden I just had to purchase some so that I could give it a try.

Type of Tea: Black Tea, loose leaf

A quick bit about Wakoucha: Wakoucha is black tea that is produced in Japan [1,2]. While “Wa” refers to Japan [2], “koucha” actually translates to “red tea” [1,2]: a name derived from the dark red color of the tea’s liquor [1]. Black tea is a specialty product in Japan with only about 300 farmers there that currently produce it [1,3], meaning only a small amount of Wakoucha is produced each year. Interestingly, black tea production in Japan only began about 150 years ago during the country’s Meiji period (1868-1912) [1,3], making it a relatively recent addition to Japan’s rich tea culture.

Tasting Notes 

Dry tea: Out of the package, the scent off of the dry tea had a light sweetness with mild air of dry hay. The was also a slight touch of a chocolate note in the scent. The tea leaves were a dark charcoal grey with some approaching black, and the they also had an almost light brown frosting. There were a few woody stems in the mix that were a burnt reddish-brown color. the leaves had interesting shapes and were rolled and curled. Some of the dry leaves even had a serpent-like quality to their appearance.

Dry leaves of the Wakoucha loose leaf tea from High Garden

I warmed the teapot and added the dry tea to help further activate its scent. The activated scent was still a light hay-like scent. It also had a mild sweetness and just a touch of a bitter element came out, giving it even more a somewhat chocolately quality. There was also an element, somewhat fruity, that I couldn’t quite pin down ( I guess I need to incorporate a wider variety of fruits into my grocery list).

Preparation: 1 teaspoon in approximately 170 mL (5.7 oz) of roughly 95 C (203 F) water for 3 minutes.

Wakoucha tea infusing

Tea liquor: After infusing, the scent coming off of the liquor was somewhat delicate but still had similar qualities as the dry tea with just a hint of a roasted nuttiness on top of the low chocolate undertones. The color of the liquor was a deep golden orange, like dark honey.  

Wakoucha tea liquor

The taste of the tea liquor was interesting. It had a light flavor with a some light mineral sweetness and just a bit of a bitter element, which resulted in a mildly bitter-sweet finish and a hint of a dark chocolate-like quality. The tea was astringent with a slightly thick mouthfeel. A second infusion (steeped for 3.5 minutes) had a little bit more of minerality, a slightly lighter dry finish. However, the finish was longer with a lasting mineral twang that had a wet stone, or somewhat metallic, quality.

Quick Summary

  • Tea: Wakoucha, loose, black tea
  • Origin: Japan
  • Retailer: High Garden (Woodland Tea House and Sipping Apothecary)
  • Flavor Notes: dry hay, bitter-sweet, dark chocolate, mineral (wet stone)
  • Finish: dry with strong sweet and minerally elements that linger

Final Thoughts: I very much enjoyed this tea. It had a surprisingly delicate but complex flavor with notes of hay on top of bittersweet undertones of dark chocolate and a hit of minerality followed by a dry and minerally finish. This was a great find, and I look forward to trying more black teas from Japan.

Thanks for reading! As always, these are my tasting notes, and since the perception of taste and aroma can be quite personal your experience will likely, and indeed probably should, differ from mine. But regardless, I hope this post inspires you to get out there and to keep trying new teas. And if you don’t already, I’d encourage you to try making your own tasting notes as you do!

What tea should I try next? Drop me a line down in the comments and share your suggestion.

And don’t forget to Like, Share, and Follow. Your support is greatly appreciated! It really does help me (i.e., my motivation) and the blog! And once you’re done here, be sure to head over to the BlakesTeaJournalBlog Zazzle store and check out my awesome tea-themed designs.

That’s it, tea drinkers. Until next time, keep enjoying the wondrous taste of tea! — Blake – the tea drinker behind Blake’s Tea Journal


  1. “Fern Shoot Wakoucha.” Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://obubutea.com/shop/black-tea/fern-shoot-wakoucha/.
  2. Caicedo, Ricardo. “Wakoucha: Japanese Black Tea.” My Japanese Green Tea. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://www.myjapanesegreentea.com/wakoucha-japanese-black-tea.
  3. Interns, Obubu. “Introduction to Wakoucha: Japanese Black Tea.” Kyoto Obubu Tea Farms. April 15, 2017. Accessed March 12, 2019. https://obubutea.com/japanese-black-tea/.

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