Batabatacha is a little known Japanese fermented tea that scientists have discovered contains biologically active B12, a vitamin essential to brain and nervous system function, the formation of red blood cells and the metabolism of every cell in the human body.
Produced by bacteria, dietary vitamin B12 is most easily attained through animal products, leaving vegans and vegetarians at risk of a deficiency - the elderly also gradually lose the ability to absorb B12. These groups must acquire B12 through a combination of supplementation, fortified foods, and fermented foods such as tempeh and miso.
Unlike other fermented teas which aren't fermented until the tea is prepared, batabatacha is fermented while still a tea leaf; green tea leaves are steamed until they turn a brown colour, dried, fermented in a wooden box then sun dried.
Batabatacha tea leaves
Animal studies have confirmed that the tea contains vitamin B12 that is bioavailable to mammals - at this stage there has been no human trials.
To drink, batabatacha is smooth and the taste reminiscent of a robust green tea. A cup a day won't provide all of your daily B12 requirements but will make a delicious and cleansing contribution to it.
I haven't been able to source it in Australia yet but purchased from Yunomi in Japan, the postage was a mere two dollars and it arrived within three days of ordering.