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the Joys of Japanese Tea

the Joys of Japanese Tea

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Published by Nadiya A

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Published by: Nadiya A on Nov 11, 2008
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09/07/2012

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Volume 2 Issue 3Table of Contents
E-Mail:
info@clearspring.co.uk 
Web:
www.clearspring.co.uk Tel: 020 8749 1781Fax: 020 8746 2259
Editor:
Justin Belleme
Clearspring’s OrganicTea and NaturalFarming................1Medical Benefits.....1Including:Chinese and JapaneseFolk Remedies.......3Benefits of Caffeine..3Twig Tea Benefits...4Macrobiotic HomeRemedies...........4Mu 16 Tea..........4Tea Quality............5Brewing a PerfectCup..............................5Cooking With Tea.....5Clearspring Ltd.19A Acton Park EstateLondon W3 7QE
Continued on......................................3
The Joys of Japanese Tea
Continued on......................................2
 
Originally amedicinal beveragebroughtfromancientChina by Buddhistmonks, tea (
cha
) wasboth rare and expensive in Japan formany centuries. The first tea seeds wereplanted in Japan during China’s T’angdynasty (618-905), and cultivation of the plants was associated with templelife and religious activity. Today, morethan a thousand years later, tea hasbecome Japan’s national beverage. Fromthe Zen Buddhist tea ceremony to thedaily three o’clock tea break, drinking teais a Japanese institution.Both stimulating and relaxing,Japanese teas such as tangy
sencha
(greentea), smoky
bancha
(roasted green tea),and earthy
kukicha
(twig tea) refresh thepalate and heighten the pleasure of eatingall types of food. Although all Japanesetea comes from the evergreen
Camelliasinensis
, unique processing produces teaswith different tastes, colours, andphysiological effects. Like many herbalbrews, Japanese tea has legendary healthbenefits, some now scientifically proven.
Clearspring’s Organic Teaand Natural Farming
 
For over 800 years Japan’s finest teashave grown around the town of Uji,which is located on the old roadbetween the ancient capitals of Nara andKyoto, about 230 miles southwest of Tokyo. Birthplace of both Japanesegreen tea and the tea ceremony, Uji’srich, slightly acidic soil is ideal forgrowing tea. Early morning mist fromthe Uji river moistens the leaves of theplants and shields them from the sun,and the volcanic soil is well drained bythe sloping terrain. Following thenatural contours of the valleys andsurrounding hills, Uji’s landscape ispatched with three- and four-acre teafields. Straight rows of smooth, tightlytrimmed bushes look more like ornamen-tal hedges than individual tea plants.Off the main road, on a hill overlook-ing Uji, the manicured look of theplantations below gives way to fields of lumpy, irregular rows of tea plants - theremote, centuries-old tea plantations of the Nagata organic tea co-op, producers of Clearspring’s organic sencha, bancha, andkukicha teas. Following the principles of an agricultural method known as nature
Medical Benefits of GreenTea
 
Though a productof the same bush,typical English teasare not steamed, sothey are dark in colourand are referred to as“black” tea. Recentresearch has confirmedwhat Eastern healershave known forcenturies. Green tea’s unique traditionalprocessing is partly responsible for itsextraordinary healing properties.Scientists working in the United Statesand Japan have found that drinkingseveral cups of green tea each day canhave a profound effect on your health.In the last few decades several hundredarticles have appeared in professionalmedical journals and
 
lay publicationsreporting the medicinal benefits of greentea. Some of the benefits of green teareported by scientists include the follow-ing:Reduces the risk of heart disease andstrokesReduces the risk of several types of cancer
 
Volume 2 Issue 3
Food Integrity
Page: 2
farming, theNagata organictea co-op, agroup of associated teagrowers, havebeen a curios-ity to their tea-farmingneighbours.Most tea farmers spray their plantswith chemicals fifteen to twentytimes a year, but the Nagata growershave rejected chemical agriculturecompletely. They do not use animalmanures, chemical fertilizers,herbicides, or pesticides; theyreplenish the nutrients in theirtopsoil with vegetable-qualitycompost only. Nature farmingstresses the importance of buildingsoil vitality by maintaining a semi-wild natural environment. Plants arenot overly protected or pampered butare allowed to fend for themselveswith the help of a strong, balancedtopsoil.The Nagatas insist that it is notnecessary to prune tea bushesuniformly. Each bush, he says,should be allowed to grow accordingto its own pattern. Although heharvests a little less tea than similar-sized farms that use chemicalmethods, his plants have far lessmould and blight. Also, the co-optea plants usually produce tea leavesfor twice as long a period of time asplants that have been chemicallytreated. Chemically treated tea plantsgenerally burn themselves out inabout twenty years, but the Nagataplants commonly produce for fortyyears, some for as long as onehundred.In early spring, Uji farmers covertheir tender tea leaves with dark netting or slotted bamboo screens toprotect them from the afternoon sun.These first spring leaves are pro-cessed into
gyokuro
(jewel dew),Japan’s rarest, most expensive tea.Steamed, dried, and ground to a finepowder, these early leaves become
matcha
, the jade green tea of theancient tea ceremony.Unlike their neighbours, in thespring, the Nagata growers processtheir most prized leaves into sencha,a high-quality green tea offered tohouse guests and served at fineJapanese restaurants. To makesencha, the freshly picked tenderleaves are immediately steamed for aminute or so. Steaming softens theleaves and turns them a delicateemerald green colour. (The steamingprocess prevents the tea fromfermenting and turning dark. Thisdistinguishes Japanese tea frompartially fermented oolong and fullyfermented black English teas.) Oncesteamed, the leaves are
 
rolled intothin curls, dried slowly in ovens,cooled, and immediately packed toseal in their fresh taste and aroma.Slightly bittersweet sencha, morethan any other tea, has the fresh tasteof just-picked leaves.The Nagata growers continue topick sencha throughout the spring.By late June or July the leaves aretoo large and coarse to qualify assencha and are processed intobancha. These leaves are steamed,mixed with black volcanic sand, androasted in revolving ovens. The sand,later removed, helps the leaves roastslowly and evenly. Roastingfurther neutralizes theleaves’ alreadyweak astringentand stimulatingqualities (tealeaves losecaffeine strengthas they grow), so bothchildren and adults candrink bancha at any time of day.Bancha is one of the Nagata group’smost popular teas and is frequentlyserved in Japanese hospitals as amedicinal beverage.In Japan, kukicha
 
has beenstigmatised as a poor man’s drink,because, like brown rice, it bringsback memories of the days of deprivation during and after WorldWar II. Macrobiotics founder GeorgeOhsawa introduced kukicha to theWest forty years ago. Since itcontains only one-tenth the caffeineof sencha and because it is the mostalkalinising Japanese tea, Ohsawaconsidered it to be the most balancedbeverage. Indeed, kukicha is anexcellent complement to the grain-based, mostly vegetarian diet headvocated.Nagata growers
 
keep the caffeinelevel in kukicha as low as possibleby selecting only older twigs andharvesting them in fall and winterwhen caffeine is naturally lowest.Twigs are steamed, dried, and storedin paper bags for two to three yearsin order to develop the best flavour.After aging, twigs are cut and gradedto size. Each grade is then roastedseparately at different temperaturesand lengths of time to ensureuniformity. Finally, the twigs areblended and packaged. The Nagatacoop formula for just the right ratioof twig size and age is a carefullyguarded company secret.Two other traditional Japaneseteas are barley tea (
mugi cha
) andbrown rice tea (
genmai cha
).Unhulled barley for barley tea is firstsprouted to activate its naturalsweetness, then roastedto bring out itsdeep, richflavour. Excel-lent chilled,barley tea is afavourite of womenand children duringJapan’s hot, humid summers.Brown rice tea is a type of sencha. It is a mixture of 50% greentea leaves and 50% kernels of roasted, popped brown rice. Thewhite colours of the rice dispersed inthe green tea gives genmai cha aninteresting appearance. Enjoyed bothhot and chilled, rice tea has a mild,nutty flavour. Genmai cha is avail-able in the Clearspring label.
Clearspring’s OrganicTea and NaturalFarming
Continued from............................1
 Nature farming stresses the importance of building soil vitality by maintaining a semi-wild  natural environment.
Other TraditionalJapanese Teas
 
Volume 2 Issue 3
Food Integrity
Page: 3
Helps regulateblood sugarPrevents or lowershigh blood pressureBoosts the immunesystemFacilitates weight lossHelps prevent ulcersSlows the aging processControls inflammationReduces blood cholesterolFights viral colds and fluPrevents gum disease, cavities,and bad breathCan help prevent osteoporosisCan help prevent blood clotsScientists have even discoveredthat applying green tea to the skincan help cure and prevent someforms of skin cancer and other skindisorders, protect the skin fromlong- and short-term damage fromthe sun’s ultraviolet rays, and act asan antibacterial agent when appliedto skin infections. Many of thebroad health benefits of green tea arederived from its rich supply of plantnutraceuticals called polyphenols, of which epigallocatechin gallate(EGCG) is the most powerful.Polyphenols are one of nature’s mostpowerful antioxidants. Fermentedblack teas lose much of their healthpromoting properties duringprocessing. Research at RutgersUniversity has confirmed that greentea has six times the antioxidantcapability of black fermented teas.Another important medicinalcomponent of green tea is tannin, anastringent responsible for green tea’sbitter taste. Tannin is also thought tohelp the body discharge toxins dueto pollution and to accelerate themetabolism of fats.Because green tea leaves aresteamed immediately after they arepicked, most of their oxidativeenzymes are destroyed. Conse-quently, they retain their greencolour and more natural vitamins,minerals and antioxidants thanfermented black teas.Chemical analysis has revealedthat green tea contains significantamounts of water-soluble vitaminsand minerals, particularly zinc,manganese, potassium, niacin, folicacid and vitamin C. In fact, one cupof green tea has more vitamin C thanan orange. Researchers at theUniversity of Kansas attributedgreen tea with 100 times theantioxidant strength of vitamin C,and 25 times that of vitamin E. AUnited States Department of Agriculture study found that theantioxidant capacity of green tea isbetter than twenty-two various fruitsand vegetables.Green tea applications have along history in many countries wherethis tea is cultivated. The followingare a few suggestions. Clearspringdoes not recommend these remediesas a substitute for professionalmedical advice. If you have any of the conditions listed below, check with your personal health careprovider before using these recom-mendations.Green tea used for cooking andexternal medicinal application isstronger then tea brewed fordrinking. (See prepara-tion instructionsunder “Cookingwith Green Tea.”)Also, do not discardbrewed tea used fordrinking or left overtea leaves, because thesecan be used for some of the remediesbelow.Cool and heal sunburned skin bysoaking a towel in cold green tea andplacing it on the affected area of thebody.Use green tea to ease itching andswelling.Use strong tea as a disinfectant oncuts and bruises.Use strong tea to treat athlete’sfoot. Bathe the foot twice a day forten minutes for up to
 
several weeks.Press rehydrated tea leaves onteeth to reduce the pain of toothache.Chewing rehydrated tea leavescleanses the breath.Soak a towel in warm tea, andplace the towel on tired eyes torefresh them.Wash the face with warm tea toreduce skin rashes and pimples.Rinse washed hair with strong teafor shine and softness.Bathing in mint flavoured greentea during hot weather has a refresh-ing and cooling effect.Although caffeine has receivedbad press in the West, it might havebeen this very quality in tea, whichinstantly invigorates the body, thatattracted early religious leaders andphysicians. Scientists have identifiedcaffeine as one of a potent group of drugs called methylxanthines, whichare found in over sixty plant species.Caffeine blocks adenosine, a naturaltranquilliser, so the brain is over-stimulated, thus heighteningintellectual activity. The highestquality Japanese green teas, whichare picked from tender spring leaveshigh in caffeine, may have morecaffeine than coffee. Buttheir high tanninand vitamin Ccontent isbelieved tomoderate thestimulatingeffect. Thissynergistic quality of vitamin C and tannin with caffeinemay explain why Zen monks usegreen tea during long meditations tostay alert but calm.Other side effects of caffeine,such as widening of the arteries andpulmonary vessels, increasing bloodflow to the heart, and stimulatingkidney and bladder functions, wereviewed as medicinal effects byancient healers, who used green teawith moderation.
Continued from........1
Medical Benefits of Green Tea
Green tea’s unique traditional processing is partly responsible for itsextraordinary healing properties.
Chinese and Japanese GreenTea Folk RemediesThe Health Benefits of Caffeine

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