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Japanese Tea Culture

Awabancha & Goishicha in Tosa prefecture

There are many unique ways to process tea in Shikoku region. Especially Goishicha from Tosa prefecture. To make Goishicha, first steam tea leaves, then stack those tea on the ground, and next cover with a mat, and ferment. After that, stuff the tea leaves into a barrel and cover, place a weigh on the top of the cover and ferment again. Finally, take out the solid tea, and cut it into 3cm under the sun. This is called as Goishicha since the shape of the piece looks like "goishi"(Oriental chess piece).
There is also a kind of tea called "Awabancha" in Aoicho, and Kamikatsucho in Tokushima prefecture. During the summer, pick all the tea leaves, then boil them. After boiling the tea leaves, rub them, place them in a barrel to ferment. Then dry them under the sun. Goishicha was mainly sold to the people live on the islands in Seto inland sea for the purpose of making tea porridge, Awabancha by comparison was drunk like a normal tea. Tea which used bacteria for the process is called "atohakkou" (after fermation). Other country such as China, Thailand or Myanmar have the same type of processed tea, and go by the name of Mian in Thailand, and Rapeso in Myanmar and they are categorized as pickeled tea.
These pickle tea are for eating, but the way of processing the tea is the same. Moreover, in Myanmer some tea is also used for drinking after drying.
Why Shikoku region of Japan has the same way of processing tea as South East Asia or China? Some local people say that Kukai( a famouns Japanese monk from Hian period) brought introduced to people in Shikoku However this mysterious connection can tell us there was a some kind of connection between Japan and China or South East Asia at the time.

(Yoichiro Nakamura)

Tea processor for making Awabancha (Kamikatsu cho)

Tea processor for making Awabancha
(Kamikatsu cho)

Awabancha (pickle)

Awabancha (pickle)

Dry Awabancha under the sun (Aoi cho in Tokushima prefecture)

Dry Awabancha under the sun
(Aoi cho in Tokushima prefecture)