Awa Bancha or awabancha from the village of Kamikatsu, Tokushima Prefecture, is a regional folk tea, and this micro batch has been made by the Mima family for over a century. Michiko and her daughter Yoshimi (see photo) continue their family tradition by producing just 70 kg this year. Their activity helps to preserve a centuries old tradition that developed largely independent of Japan's main tea industry centered in Kyoto.
Awa bancha, a fermented tea tradition
Awa Bancha is made from large, mature leaves harvested in the hot and humid summer time. In this region, harvesting is often done with help from one's neighbours and locals from children to the elderly. It can be quite hot but a very fruitful time to gather and harvest together.
- The tea leaves are picked by hand. This is the very beginning of traditional awabandcha making.
- After sorting the tea leaves, they are boiled in a large pot for about 2 to 3 minutes, and then softened using a rolling machine.
- The tea is then packed into large barrels, covered with Basho leaves, and weighed down with 100kg of weight to allow lactic acid fermentation (like turning milk into yogurt).
- After 3-4 weeks, the leaves are removed from the barrels, they are then sun-dried for a day.
Awa bancha has a slightly sour taste, and we recommend steeping about 5 grams worth of tea in boiling water for 3-5 minutes depending on how strong you like it.
While bancha refers to the fact that these leaves are harvested late (in this case using the character for late 晩), the awa 阿波 is the old feudal province name for the region now called Tokushima Prefecture.
- Ingredient: Green tea
- Harvest: Late Summer (New harvest is available from September each year).
- Region: Kamikatsu Village, Tokushima
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