In 1874, Japan began producing black tea to meet the demand of the global market, which was favoring black tea over green tea at the time. To achieve this, the Japanese government invited Chinese specialists on black tea production and planned a project to produce black tea. In 1876, Motokichi Toda was sent to India for research and study on black tea production, and he later traveled throughout Japan to give lectures and advice on the production of black tea.
However, Japan’s black tea was not very popular in the global market as it had less fragrance and color compared to Indian Ceylon tea. Nevertheless, Japan eventually succeeded in producing a black tea suitable for its soil and climate, called “Benihomare,” using seeds brought from India by Tada.
After World War II, Japan introduced high-grade black teas such as “Benihikari” and “Benifuki,” which were hybrids of Chinese black tea and Assam from India. Black tea became popular in Japan, and in 1955, 8500 tons of black tea were produced and mainly exported to other countries. However, Japan lost the world price war on black tea, and in 15 years, exporting black tea stopped almost completely.
Today, Japan still produces black tea for domestic consumption, but it is mostly made with the leaves used for producing green tea, resulting in a light taste that is best enjoyed without adding milk or sugar.