Gourmet teas straight from Japan, selected for you by our sommelier


Type of tea : post-fermented tea
Origin : Ôtoyo town, Nagaoka District, Kôchi prefecture
Cultivar : Yabukita, "yamacha"
Harvest : July 2018

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In Japan, there are still a few examples of traditional regional banchas made and drunk in very different ways, and very differently from the senchas, gyokuros, matchas and other teas that used to be reserved for members of the elite.
The goishi-cha from Ôtoyo in Kôchi Prefecture is undoubtedly the most unusual and interesting of these banchas. It is the only example (with the ishizuchi-kokucha from Ehime)of a double post-fermented (dark) pressed tea. The unique method by which it is prepared apparently dates back around 400 years. In the Edo Period, this tea from the Tosa Province (the former name of Kôchi) was not drunk locally, but used as currency in trade for salt with areas on the other side of the mountains, facing the interior sea, where goishi-cha was used to make a form of rice porridge.
This tea was in danger of disappearing only a few years ago, when there was only one producer. However, the Goishicha Cooperative in Ôtoyo recently made it possible to transmit and protect this manufacturing method and its origin through the goishi-cha appellation. Moreover, fermented food is now in fashion in Japan, so the production of goishi-cha may be small, but its future should be assured.
Leaves harvested from the branches are first steamed, and then spread on straw mats, where they ferment for about a week. Next, they are placed in hermetically sealed barrels with lids that compress the leaves. This second fermentation (in an oxygen-deprived environment) lasts several weeks. Finally, the pressed tea is taken out and cut into 4-cm (1.5-inch) squares, which are placed on mats and dried in the sun for around three days. It thus takes nearly two months to make goishi-cha, a tea especially rich in lactic bacteria of vegetable origin. This is a tea that has a reputation for being excellent for intestinal flora.
Its origins are uncertain, but its manufacturing method is strangely similar to that of teas produced in Yunnan (Suan-cha) and Myanmar (Miang).

Traditionally, this tea is boiled, but preparing it in a teapot gives you better control over its characteristic acidity. Naturally, it is possible to infuse it many times. The first one provides the greatest acidity, so it should not be too long.
In the nose as in the mouth, this tea has a very special, unique acid character. While at first it tends to recall medicinal herbs, something a little fruity can also be detected, as in slightly acidic wine. The fragrances, especially when the tea is still very hot, have a slight cheesy aroma, and when the tea has cooled a bit, it has dry wood and camphor scents. There is a disconnect between the very strong nose and the impression in the mouth, which is certainly very special, but softer, and with even a touch of sweetness. While some people might not like its acidity, this bancha nonetheless remains fluid and strangely easy to drink.

Of course this tea can be used to make “ocha-zuke” rice porridge, and those who are bothered by its acidic side can drink it with a little honey, for example.
This is a very unusual tea, which is completely unique in terms of aroma, but it is also an extraordinary ethnographic document that forces us to think more deeply about the origins of teas and how they are consumed in Japan. Unsettling at first, this tea can also become addictive.

Brewing suggestion
  • Quantity of leaves: 2g (1/2 piece)
  • Quantity of water : 120ml / 4 oz
  • Water temperature : 100°C / 212°F
  • Brewing time : 30s



USD $18.67  / 20g

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