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Batabata-cha

Type of tea : post-fermented tea
Origin : Asahi town, Shimo-Niikawa District, Toyama prefecture
Cultivar : Yabukita
Harvest : July 2017
Batabata-cha

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Japan’s old traditional regional banchas have a very wide range of forms, as well as ways of being consumed that are based in local culture. The community of Asahi (more specifically, the village of Birudan, which is also known for making Japanese washi paper) in Toyama Prefecture on the Sea of Japan, continues to make a post-fermented tea, also known as a dark/black tea, called batabata-cha.
Batabata-cha is made from summer leaves. They are cut and then steamed. After having been lightly rolled, the leaves are stored inside, where they ferment. As the fermentation progresses, the temperature of the room increases and, depending on how warm it gets, the leaves are stirred and the room is separated into several parts to regulate the fermentation. The operation is repeated around ten times. Lastly, the leaves are dried for half a day in the shade, and then for two or three days in the sun.
It is thought that batabata-cha has been consumed in the village of Birudan since the Heian Period (794-1185), but the earliest historical evidence dates from 1472. There is a theory that the monk Rennyô used it when preaching in the batabata-cha region. It is indeed used in Buddhist ceremonies in Birudan and remains a tea offered to guests on numerous occasions.
Traditionally, it is boiled. The first cup is offered at the Buddhist alter, and the others drunk by the guests. On such occasions, it is served in a bowl, in which a little salt is added and where it is beaten into a froth using a large bamboo chasen made of two chasens attached together, sometimes called a “meoto-chasen” (“husband and wife” chasen)”.

This dark tea is striking, first because of its warm fragrances of fermentation, evoking mushrooms and mold, but also waxed wood and leather. When it is brewed sufficiently strong, this batabata-cha also releases surprising scents of butter and cooked potatoes and rice. In the mouth, the aromas of mushrooms and especially waxed wood dominate, but in the aftertaste the sweet buttery impression comes out in the length.
Boiling it in a lot of water brings out the aromas of this tea more strongly, but attention must nonetheless be paid to the amount of tea used and how long it is infused because some bitterness can appear. I recommend infusing it many times, with a large quantity of leaves and boiling water. Nonetheless, it would be a pity not to try the traditional version in a bowl with a pinch of salt and beaten using a meoto chasen.
As a good bancha, batabata-cha is a tea that is very easy to drink in large quantities all day. In the summer it will also be excellent iced.

Brewing suggestion
  • Quantity of leaves: 3g
  • Quantity of water : 70ml / 2.4 oz
  • Water temperature : 100°C / 212°F
  • Brewing time : 60s

cat-toyama


Batabata-cha
BAN-82-001-100

USD $12.67  / 100g





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