The scientific verification of the habu sake is supposed to be that of medical benefits, including its potential to enhance energy, improve sleeping patterns, and alleviate back and joint pain, remains inconclusive.
Habu sake, originating from ancient Okinawan medicinal practises, has evolved into a strong beverage that appeals to adventurous international visitors, offering a unique experience of consuming the essence of a pit viper snake.
Keep reading to find out more!
How Do I Describe the Habu Sake?
As previously indicated, the nomenclature of habu sake derives from the habu snake that typically resides within the majority of its containers.
The habu snake, scientifically known as Trimeresurus flavoviridis, is a venomous pit viper species that is indigenous to the Ryukyu Islands.
The bite of this organism has the potential to induce symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, hypertension, and in severe cases, fatality if not properly addressed.
Fortunately, the extended immersion in alcohol effectively degrades the venom of the habu snake, alleviating concerns regarding the potential medical consequences of consuming a single serving of snake wine.
Referring to habu sake as “sake” can be considered rather deceptive. The alcoholic beverage serving as the foundation of this beverage, commonly referred to as “habushu,” is awamori.
Similar to sake, awamori is produced using broken rice and koji mould. However, the resemblances between the two end at this point.
Awamori, a distilled alcoholic beverage, normally exhibits an alcohol by volume (ABV) content ranging from 30% to 40%.
In contrast, sake, a non-distilled alcoholic beverage, generally possesses an ABV ranging from 13% to 17%.
There exists variation in the types of rice and koji mould employed, with sake production predominantly relying on domestically cultivated japonica rice in Japan.
In contrast, awamori is typically produced with indica rice, which is known for its firm texture and ease of handling, sometimes sourced from Thailand.
Regarding koji, the majority of sake producers exhibit a preference for yellow koji due to its refined and velvety taste profile.
Awamori is produced utilising the indigenous black koji mould species found in the region of Okinawa.
The mould in question exhibits a high capacity for citric acid production, imparting a unique flavour profile to the resultant beverage.
This flavour profile harmonises particularly well with citrus fruits, such as the shikuwasa variety cultivated in Okinawa.
What is the etymology behind the term “habu sake” for habushu? One plausible explanation is that within the context of Japan, the term “sake” is utilised as a broad, all-encompassing phrase to refer to various types of alcoholic beverages.
The beverage commonly referred to as “sake” in Western countries is known as “nihonshu” or “Japanese alcoholic beverage” in its country of origin.
Read also: Why is the Eastern Milk Snake So Popular?
How Is the Habu Sake Produced?
The primary distributor of Habushu utilises approximately 5,000 Habu annually.
The distillery employs a process involving the utilisation of milled rice and Koji mould to manufacture the awamori utilised in the production of habushu.
The initial step involves blending the awamori with a combination of herbs and honey, resulting in a transparent liquid that exhibits a yellow tint.
Subsequently, a pit viper is introduced into the liquid medium and retained until it is ultimately swallowed. A common convention is the extended maturation of awamori.
Alcohol facilitates the dissolution of venom, rendering it non-toxic. Certain brands of habushu are packaged with the preserved snake coexisting within the bottle, alongside a blend of honey and several herbs.
There exist two distinct approaches for introducing the snake into the alcohol. The creator has the option to immerse the serpent in alcohol and afterwards close the container, causing the snake to perish by drowning.
In an alternative approach, the snake can be subjected to refrigeration until it enters a state of unconsciousness, following which it is dissected, drained of blood, and subsequently sutured.
Upon thawing and reawakening, the viper will promptly perish in vigorous striking behaviour, a characteristic sought by the majority of breeders.
The Habu will subsequently undergo a preservation process by immersing it in an ethanol solution for a duration of one month.
In order to proceed with the preparation, the Habu is immersed in a solution consisting of 59% alcohol for a duration of 40 days.
Subsequently, it is transferred into a mixture containing 35% awamori, facilitating its readiness for consumption.
The removal of the snake’s guts, as described in the second procedure, is believed to mitigate the notably foul odour of the beverage.
The Habu snake exhibits a prolonged mating duration of up to 26 hours, leading to speculation that the use of habushu, a beverage derived from this snake, may potentially alleviate sexual dysfunction in males.
One prevalent belief is that the consumption of habushu is associated with the transfer of these attributes.
How Do I Drink the Habu Sake?
Habu sake can be consumed in a manner similar to other variations of awamori. Awamori is traditionally consumed using little cups known as “chibuguwa.”
When consuming sake from these diminutive vessels, it is advisable to refrain from hastily consuming the beverage in a single swallow.
The recommended approach for consuming Awamori entails a gradual and deliberate sipping process, accompanied by a conscious appreciation of the fragrance before each sip.
The flavour profile of habu sake can be adjusted by diluting it with either hot or cold water.
To enhance the palatability of snake wine, one may consider incorporating ice cubes derived from soft water, as this might contribute to a more refined and mellow taste.
To achieve a smoother and more balanced beverage, it is recommended to incorporate a small quantity of heated water into your chibuguwa.
The comparatively elevated alcohol concentration of Habu sake renders it a superb selection for cocktail concoctions. One commonly chosen alternative is to transform it into a beverage known as sangria.
The habu sake should be poured over a combination of strawberries, oranges, lemons, and mint, and thereafter stored for a duration of two days.
What Does the Habu Snake Taste Like?
The gustatory characteristics of habu sake exhibit significant variation across various producers. Certain varieties have a gentle and pleasant spiciness, but others possess a more intense and pungent flavour profile.
According to several imbibers, Habushu exhibits a “complex” flavour profile. The snake may maybe accountable for a portion of this “complexity.”
The modern method of producing Habu sake, which involves killing the snake prior to its introduction into the sake jar, is reputed for yielding a more refined taste profile.
What are the Benefits of the Habu Snake?
Habu snakes are widely recognised for their remarkable capacity to endure and persist in challenging environmental circumstances.
An illustration of the aforementioned resilience is demonstrated by the snake species’ remarkable capacity to endure for a duration exceeding 400 days in the absence of water.
The residents of Okinawa aspire to acquire a measure of resistance through the consumption of habu sake as a medicinal beverage.
Despite the lack of rigorous testing, several individuals from Okinawa assert that habu sake possesses the capacity to enhance energy levels, promote restful sleep, and alleviate joint and back discomfort.
What are the Risks of the Habu Sake?
The primary concern associated with the purchase of a bottle of awamori containing a deceased snake pertains to the presence of said deceased snake within the bottle.
While the use of alcohol serves as a preservative for the snake’s body, it is imperative to ensure that the snake is never exposed to atmospheric conditions.
This method will prevent the decomposition of the snake within the container.
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The purchase of habu sake is limited to Japan. Nevertheless, due to the habu snake’s non-endangered status, it remains feasible to import habu sake into the United States.
In the region of Okinawa, the beverage of choice is awamori, a liquor known for its robust flavour profile. It is customary to consume this beverage at a leisurely pace, savouring its taste, using little cups referred to as chibuguwa.
However, it is possible to dilute it with water, incorporate it into citrus-based beverages, or even incorporate it into one’s morning coffee. Thanks for reading!