NADESHIKO: Tea Tasting by Alex Ahearn


Name of the Product: NADESHIKO (shop here)
Type of tea: Fermented Tea
Producer: Osada Natsumi, 4th generation tea master, of Osada Tea 
Location: Mori town, Shūchi district, Shizuoka Prefecture, central Honshu, Japan 

Read about how Yamabuki Nadeshiko is made below

Yamabuki Nadeshiko is a unique tea created through controlled microbial fermentation using kuro-kouji-kin (black fermentation starters). This process was developed by Mr. Denbei Kawamura, known as the “Father of Shizuoka Yeast,” who spent his career studying koji molds which are used in the creation of sake, soy sauce, and other fermented products.

The kuro-koujikin starter is added to the tea leaves in a clean and controlled environment where the fermentation occurs. The process develops a finished tea with higher concentrations of catechins, citric acid, and gallic acid. 

NADESHIKO Fermented leaves

Enjoy this tea like Osada san! 

Osada san’s recommended steeping parameters 

100°C (212°F) water
3g (1 teaspoon)
150ml (~5 fl oz)
2-minute steep

Upon opening the bag, a sweet scent of umeboshi (pickled plum), date sugar, and ripe plum wafted from the bag. The black-brown leaves felt delicate in my hand as I examined them while my water boiled. The tea’s aroma was sweeter and less earthy than I expected. When my water was ready, I filled my kyusu with the warmed water and let it sit for a minute.

I decanted the water into my cup. I poured the dry leaves into the kyusu and closed the lid. I opened the lid slightly and smelled the aroma again. It was similar to the aroma of the dried leaves and had notes of dried red plums, dried honey, and flowering plum blossoms. I filled my kyusu to the rim and closed the lid, waiting patiently for the tea to steep.

I poured the tea into my cup and noticed the deep brown-orange liquor. It sparkled as I looked at it under sunlight and had a subtle peach-like hue. 

A light brew of NADESHIKO

I poured a small amount of water into a small cup and let it sit for a minute, then poured it out. I gently tilted the bag, weighed out the tea, and placed it into my small cup. The deep green leaves shinned in the light as I looked at them. 

Intense color

I smelled the aroma of the liquor and noticed many similarities with the aroma of the dry tea leaves in the warmed kyusu. There were subtle hints of amber caramel and candied plums.

The liquor was medium-bodied and coated my mouth as I sipped the tea. There was a lingering sweetness that contrasted with a slight astringency and dryness. The empty cup smelled like plum jam with a hint of cocoa nibs. I steeped the tea for another two minutes and noticed that the liquor was more orange than the first infusion.

It was lighter and delicate with a similar sweetness as the first. The tea was more vibrant and tasted more like fresh red plums with a hint of lightly toasted barley. The tea was very easy to enjoy, and Osada san’s recommended steeping parameters showcase the tea’s unique sweetness and fruit-like characteristics. This tea is made with the Yabukita cultivar. 

The plum notes and sweetness matched perfectly our Japanese small cake

Make this tea for any occasion ! 

Hot preparation:

Osada san’s recommended steeping parameters allow you to experience the tea’s balanced sweetness and delicate astringency. You may steep the tea another two times with the same 100°C (212°F) water for 2 minutes.

The tea’s underlying complexity will develop over the additional steeps. For a lighter preparation, you may also steep the tea at 95°C (203°F) with the same amount of water, 150ml (~5 fl oz), for 2 minutes. The tea can be steeped up to four times using these parameters. Each cup will be slightly more aromatic and have a light to medium body.

Cold brew preparation:

This tea can be enjoyed as a cold brew made in a 750ml (~25.4 fl oz) cold brew bottle or a pitcher. Put 8-10g (2-3 teaspoons) of tea in the bottom of the bottle. Fill the bottle to the top with cold or room temperature filtered water. Place the bottle in the refrigerator and allow the tea to steep for 6-8 hours.

You can taste test the tea throughout its steeping and enjoy it at any point to your liking. After the desired amount of time has passed, strain and enjoy the tea. Store in refrigerator up to one day after preparing.

Quick iced preparation:

You may use two times the amount of tea leaves, 6 grams (2 teaspoons) in total, and follow Osada san’s recommended steeping parameters (100°C (212°F) water, 150ml (~5 fl oz) vessel, 2-minute steep). After the tea is steeped, you may pour the first steep directly over ice in a glass to make a quick iced tea.

NADESHIKO Dry leaves, first and second brew.
© pictures by Alex Ahearn

Food pairing recommendations 

You may enjoy this tea by itself or pair it with chocolate or chocolate-based desserts, like mousse or flourless chocolate cake, or with fresh raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, or blueberries. The tea may also be served with red meat-based dishes, especially lamb-based dishes. 


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