Furyu: Batabatacha, Rare Bancha Tea

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Furyu Bancha Specialty Shop

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Batabatacha is a tea that has long been loved by the people in the town of Asahimachi Birudan of Toyama Prefecture. It is a fermented tea quite similar to pu-erh tea.

How is batabatacha made?

Early August is the harvesting season for tea leaves used in making batabatacha. Tea leaves are steamed in a pan until the color becomes yellowish-brown. Steaming process stops the function of enzymes. (This step allows the tea to be classified as green tea. Without this step, the enzymes would oxidize the the leaves turning it into an oolong or black tea, though there are other steps in making oolong and black teas to consider.)

After drying the tea for half-day, it is placed in a wooden box for fermentation (this step would allow the leaf to be classified as a dark tea). The last step is to take the tea out from the box and fully dry it under the sun.

In this particular region of Toyama Prefecture, batabatacha is served at various events such as a gathering for ancestor's commemoration or when introducing the bride after the wedding ceremony. As a type of 'tea party' held among family, close relatives and friends, the serving of this tea is ceremonial, but casual at the same time. Brewed tea is poured in a tea bowl to be whisked until it creates a foam. People in the town also drink unwhisked batabatacha with their everyday meal.

Vitamin B12

We have not tested batabatacha for vitamin B12 ourselves, but this study claims that the tea contains a significant amount: '456 ± 39 ng per 100 g dry tea leaves and 2.0 ± 0.3 ng per 100 mL of tea drink'. The study conducted testing on rats concluding that 'the vitamin B12 found in the fermented black tea is bioavailable in mammals.'

Source: Hiromi Kittaka-Katsura, Syuhei Ebara, Fumio Watanabe, and Yoshihisa Nakano. 'Characterization of Corrinoid Compounds from a Japanese Black Tea (Batabata-cha) Fermented by Bacteria.' Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2004, 52 (4), pp 909–11. (Abstract is available without membership.)

A PDF report of this study is also available here: Hiromi Kittaka-Katsura, Fumio Watanabe, and Yoshihisa Nakano. 'Occurrence of Vitamin B12 in Green, Blue, Red, and Black Tea Leaves.' Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology. 2004, 50, pp 438-40.

We would appreciate comments from nutritionists, food scientists, etc. to help understand the above.

Product Info

  • Ingredients: Post fermented green tea leaves
  • Harvest: Autumn
  • Region: Toyama Prefecture

Steeping Instructions

Batabatacha steeping info here


Vendor Info

  • Name: Furyu Bancha Specialty Shop
  • Type: Tea shop
  • Owner: Nobuhiko Ikematsu, Bancha specialist
  • Established: 2010
  • Location: 1863-3 Tsubukuhonmachi, Kurume-shi, Fukuoka-ken 830-0047 (Google Map)

About Bancha Specialty Shop Furyu

Bancha Specialty Shop Furyu was established in 2010 by aspiring tea master Nobuhiko Ikematsu, who works directly with farmers in Kurume City, Fukuoka, to develop delicious bancha teas. He is also a specialist gathering rare bancha teas from around Japan.

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