Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Tea Appreciation: Awa bancha

Awa bancha (阿波晩茶) is a fermented Japanese tea.  Awa is the name of an old province in Tokushima and bancha means "evening tea" in reference to its late harvest.

Most Awa bancha produced in Japan comes from Tokushima and Fukuoka where the climate is suitable for Lactobacillales (lactic acid bacteria) to develop during the fermentation process.

Bancha tea leaves are harvested in mid-July by hand or with a trimmer, then sorted.  Next, the leaves are boiled for approximately 10 minutes until they become discolored and oxidation has been stopped.  After boiling, they are mashed manually or by machine.  Then the leaves are pressed and placed in sealed containers where they will ferment and develop lactic acid bacteria over a period of 2 to 3 weeks. Finally, the leaves are dried for one day in the sun.

Traditional:  Add 5 grams of tea leaves to a 1 liter pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes before serving.

Alternate:  Add boiling water to the tea leaves and steep for 5 minutes before serving.

The resulting infusion will have a pickled aroma and mildly tart taste.

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