Quite unusual !
And yet, the japanese have created a new kind of tea with a manufacturing process that reminds us a bit of Pu ehr teas processing.
The full name of this tea is : Yamabuki-Nadeshiko
By looking at its dry leaves, nothing really piercing one’s attention . It looks like a black tea composed of small leaves, a kind of BOP grade ( broken orange pekoe), – a little large and irregular, – but overall quite « normal » tea.
Nothing indicates that this tea is the result of long and delicate research and experiments conducted by Mr. Denbei Kawamura, famous for his essential and decisive work on the yeasts in Sake and also known as the “Father of Shizuoka Yeast.”
Kawamura San’s main idea is to apply and to adapt the Japanese technology and processing of Sake fermentation to tea and to create a new product, fruit of a masterly collaboration between scientists and tea producers.
It is in Shizuoka, in a tea garden on the slopes of the Hurano mountain where an organic tea is harvested in June that the meeting between the two worlds, tea and sake starts.
Below are the main stages of Nadeshiko tea manufacturing :
In a completely sterilized and controlled environment, clean and safe for tea, the leaves of a completed finished green tea – Yabukita cultivar- are sterilised, then moisten before inoculating them with a black microscopic fungus, Kuro-Koji-kin or black Aspergillus Oryza. Following the fermentation process, the tea will then be stabilized by drying and final sorting.
Aspergillus Oryzae is a microscopic fungus – which belongs to what in France is referred to as « noble rot «, close to the Penicillium (one of the essential component of our delicious « blue cheeses » ! ).
The microbioal fermentation process begins. A lot of manufacturing secrets emcopass this innovative process where every stage is thoroughly and scientifically contolled.
Opposite to Pu Ehr teas, another naturally fermented type of tea, the Nadeshiko fermentation time is quite short, depending on the evolution of the yeast. Moreover, and unlike Pu-Ehr teas, Nadeshiko tea will not further age nor improve with time
What does this new tea bring ?
In essence, an unusual taste in Japanese teas. This organic tea is a flight between a light touch of liquorice wood, hints of caramel, compot, malty, and grilled notes, all expressed in a very smooth liquor.
In addition, Professor Kawamura considers this tea as a healthy tea, particulary active in suppressing the diabetes enzyme in adults. In fact, the japanese scientists have noticed that this new microbial process created new polyphnols known as “Teadenol A” and “Teadenol B ». These findings were published by the Japanese Patent Office Journal on March 24, 2011.
Still quite confidential and therefore not sufficiently known in the market –even in Japan – this tea is not only the meeting of an ancient, quite millénial, know-how, the mastery of microbial fermentation, the cultivation and manufacturing of tea and high tech, but also a small revolution in itself. A Japanese tea with an intriguing taste, Nadeshiko is easy to drink, smooth and pleasant ; it can be drank in the morning and all day long. A delightful liquor without bitterness.
In order to differentiate Nadeshiko from the other fermented teas, the producer invented a new category he called : « pink tea ». He is the only one to use that terminology, unknown in the world of tea.
Image Source: Courtesy of Les Jardins de Gaïa