(Photo of a tea whisk made of bamboo from Another Tea Blog)
One of the advantages of living in Japan is the huge amount of choice when it comes to tea instead of soft drinks laced with sugar, aspartame, or High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Avoid! Tokyo restaurants usually serve a cup of tea with your meal, and convenience stores like Seven-Eleven are providing all you can drink in terms of green tea, the traditional brew that Japanese people have loved for centuries. Other teas are also available, served hot in winter, and iced in summer.
Will green tea ever make it big in the United States? Earlier this year, Reuters quoted Naoko Tsuda, Suntory spokesperson, as saying: "Fizzy drinks are struggling, but green tea is doing pretty well there. Because of the recent health-consciousness, many have started trying green tea."I learnt how to make a real cup of green tea, using a bamboo whisk like the one in the top photo, in a ceramic bowl, with fine powder that doesn't look anything like the stuff you would normally call "English" tea. The ancient chado, or "way of tea" is still a wonderful mystery to me.
Now, organic green tea is making inroads abroad, including the US and Europe. After an often-quoted study in Nature in 1997, that showed how green tea has cancer-preventing qualities, sales outside of Japan started to pick up.
Epidemiological studies suggest that the consumption of green tea may help prevent cancers in humans; also, breast and prostate cancers in animal models are reduced by green, but not black, tea. Here we offer a possible explanation. We have inferred (using molecular modelling) and subsequently demonstrated that one of the major ingredients of green tea inhibits urokinase, an enzyme crucial for cancer growth.
Here in Japan, even Coca-Cola sells green tea in its vending machines.
Takaokaya is one of many companies here that are selling real green tea around the world. Their US website is wonderful, with lots of details about the different varieties. I like that they are USDA certified organic.
Almost 900 years ago the Zen monk Eisai stressed the beneficial effects of tea in his book "Maintaining Health by Drinking Tea" (1211AD):
Tea is a miraculous medicine for the maintenance of health. Tea has an extraordinary power to prolong life. Anywhere a person cultivates tea, long life will follow. In ancient and modern times, tea is the elixir that creates the mountain-dwelling immortal.
Green tea has from ancient times been highly valued in Asia as a powerful medication. In recent years, research into the effects of green tea now provides scientific confirmation for the legendary saying that, "Tea is miraculous for the maintenance of health."
Many bloggers and expats in Japan such as Ad Blankestijn do love green tea:
Two things strike me when looking at the Japanese canned tea scene. In the first place, the quality of the products, also as health drinks. There are no additives in these teas, and certainly no sugar (in Holland, I was happy to find a green tea drink in supermarkets, only to be shocked at the taste which was incredibly sweet - sponsored by the local dentist, I guess).
chamekke is another self-confessed tea addict: "What’s more, I’m a Japanese tea ceremony addict" and we learn that earlier this year, Sen Genshitsu - the past grand master of the Urasenke school of Japanese tea ceremony - made a historic visit to Seattle, Washington.
Served to you by Martin Frid at greenz.jp