The Nadeshiko Rose Japanese Fermented Tea is a unique and rare type of post fermented tea from Mr. Takada in Uji. There are some similarities that can be drawn between this tea and puerh, but it is in a category entirely of it’s own. The tea is made through a unique fermentation which is similar to that used to make sake, soy sauce and miso. The tea goes by many names, pink tea, the rosé of tea, but the one thing that is for sure is that it is one of a kind!
What is Japanese fermented tea?
There are 6 main categories of tea, white tea, yellow tea, green tea, oolong tea, red/black tea and post fermented or dark tea. This last category is our focus here
Japanese fermented tea is a category that is often overlooked. Overshadowed by the more popular Japanese green teas and Chinese fermented teas, Japanese fermented tea is quite rare by comparison. This tea is produced at a very small scale in a small number of towns and villages around Japan.
This tea begins with a slight sweet wooden flavor, with higher notes of flowers and caramel. The tea shares some characteristics with a Japanese roasted tea, but overall there is more sweetness. There are also similarities between this tea and puerh, but you may notice more earthiness accompanied by some delicate notes of tree bark.
The second brewing starts off strong with an even more powerful sweet wooden note. The earthy and floral characteristics become more apparent and the earthy notes begin to float into the foreground. The tea finishes off with a delicate sweet aftertaste.
Origins of fermented tea
The story of post fermented tea likely began by accident. In China, green tea leaves would be pressed into a brick so that they could be carried over long distances. As the climate changed from warm Southern China to the mountainous regions of Tibet, the tea began to naturally ferment. The microbes in the leaf and in the air transformed the tea leaves, rendering the flavor smoother and fruitier.
Because the flavor of these naturally fermented teas became so popular, producers began experimenting with different production methods to make the tea taste better. They began trying different methods of pan firing, solar withering and gradual aging. The most famous of the post fermented teas is puerh. Similar to champagne, a post fermented tea is only called puerh if it is produced around the region or puerh in Yunnan. This is of course the most famous region for post fermented tea production, but post fermented teas can also be produced in Japan. Let’s talk about the Japanese post fermented tea known as Nadeshiko.
What is Nadeshiko Tea
Nadeshiko Tea is a Japanese fermented tea made using koji, the same microbes used to make sake, soy sauce and miso. This is the most common culture to use for fermentation in Japanese food, so it’s no surprise that it is the key ingredient in Japanese fermented tea as well.
Harvesting of Nadeshiko
The tea leaves are collected from the first or second harvest and then they are steamed, rolled and dried. Once the leaves are processed, they are gathered together into a room to begin the fermentation process.
The fermentation of Nadeshiko
After the leaves have been gathered, moisture is applied on top of the leaves before they are sterilized. Then the koji is applied to the leaves to activate the fermentation. Unlike puerh tea for example, this is done in a controlled, sterilized environment to make sure the koji is the only microbe fermenting the tea leaves.
The Rosé of tea
If puerh is the champagne of the post fermented tea world, Nadeshiko is the rosé. This tea is also known as “pink tea” because of its very unique color. The flavor is sweet and flowery, and it is slightly lighter compared to a rich puerh tea.
You may notice some tasting notes with a puerh tea. This earthy or tree bark like flavor is present in the finish. Overall, it is a bit more flowery and sweet, and shares some aspects with a hojicha.
Benefits of Nadeshiko tea
Nadeshiko has similarities to a Japanese black tea or Wakoucha, but also Chinese puerh tea. The notable difference is that it has a higher concentration of catechins, citric acid and gallic acid. These compounds are developed thanks to the strictly controlled fermentation process.
Similar to other fermented foods, fermented Japanese tea like Nadeshiko is thought to help support a healthy diet and metabolism. Research conducted at Shizuoka University by a team of researchers discovered that there are two new types of polyphenols found inside this tea that could have some key health benefits. These polyphenols are thought to suppress the enzymes responsible for adult diabetes. They are also thought to decrease the levels of visceral fat, neutral fat and cholesterol.
During the unique microbial fermentation process, the catechins found within the tea leaf are degraded and turned into teadenol A and teadenol B. Teadenol A has been shown to suppress appetite and increase insulin secretion. Fermented Japanese green teas are also thought to reduce the risk of atherosclerosis.
Made in Uji
The Nadeshiko comes to us from the talented farmers at Chanoka in Uji. When we visited Mr. Takada, he introduced us to so many different types of rare teas and this is one of them.
Mr. Takada and his family have been in the tea industry since 1907 when they opened their tea plantation. He is able to lean on multiple generations of tea knowledge to produce excellent quality green tea, oolong tea, black tea and Japanese fermented tea.
What makes Uji tea so special?
Uji is known for consistently producing some of the best quality teas in Japan. The soil is great quality, the air is clean and misty, the terrain is hilly and the winters are relatively mild with no frost. This climate has produced excellent teas for hundreds of years.
History of Uji Tea
Uji has been a hot bed for tea cultivation since the 1300s. When the tea plant was first cultivated in Japan in 1191, it was mostly grown in the Toganoo mountains. Toganoo was known for producing the best tea on the island, but they would soon be challenged by their counterparts to the south. The original monk Eisai who brought the tea seeds to Japan from China, shared some of the seeds with his friend Myoe Shonin in Uji.
By 1383, Uji was known for producing the second best tea in Japan. In 1460, the Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimasa proclaimed that Uji tea was his favorite type, which began the unofficial reign of Uji as the top tea producing region in Japan. Depending on who you talk to, that reign still may persist to this day, as Uji teas are the most internationally recognized Japanese green teas.
Most of the reputation for Uji tea is thanks to their production of matcha, but they also produce some Japanese fermented teas here and we are happy to have found a great one!
How to prepare Japanese fermented tea
- Leaf: 5 grams
- Water: 150ml
- Temperature: 80 degrees C or 175 degrees Fahrenheit
- Time: 1 minute
- This tea can be rebrewed up to 4 times at 20 seconds each