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Awa Bancha Sour Tea

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Here's a tea you won't find anywhere else.  Awa Bancha is only made in one small prefecture in Japan, and is barely known even in Japan.  It goes through a unique lacto-fermentation process that yields a tea like no other. 

The uniqueness of this tea starts at the plucking, which takes place in the summer, when the leaves have grown large and hardened.  Every leaf is stripped from the branches, so each year the whole plant re-grows and there is only one harvest each year.  From there, the leaves are boiled to soften them and make them more pliable.  They are then rolled, similar to an oolong, but then packed into fermentation jars, and covered with banana leaves and heavy rocks to soak in their own juices.  Because the tea is harvested so late, the leaves have a higher sugar content, which increases the fermenation that occurs.  About a month later, the leaves are removed and dried in the sun.  

The result is a drink that is slightly sour, sweet, and tangy depending on how you steep it.  It is incredibly versatile and can be boiled over a fire to get the medicinal properties, or steeped more delicately to extract the sweeter notes.  Awa Bancha's nickname used to be "peasant's tea" because it was typically boiled and every leaf was used, unlike other teas.

The flavor is best suited for those who love pickles, sauerkraut and all things probiotic.  It is great for the gut and the more you drink it, the more your body will crave its effects. 

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