Thursday, December 22, 2011

How to get more Catechin

You hope to get 100% of health benefits of green tea every time you drink a cup of tea? When I do a sampling demo at a grocery store, some people ask me "what is the best way to brew tea to get the highest antioxidants?" You know what? This is one of the hardest questions to answer, although I'm a certified Japanese tea adviser.

Catechin is the secret of green tea. Many studies report high antioxidative effect of Catechin, which help you to prevent many health problems. So, the point is how to extract more Catechin into your cup. There is a study researching relation among water temperature, steeping duration, and amount of extracted Catechin. The result is very simple - the higher water temperature is and the longer steeping durantion is, the more Catechin would be extracted. Therefore, if you would like to intake more Catechin, use boiling water and steep for 10 minutes or as long as you can wait. If I say so, some of you may say "if you use boiling water, it will destroy Catechin!" Really? Actually, I had never heard this before, so I confirmed with National Institute of Vegetable and Tea Science if it's true or not. Their answer was "if you boil tea leaves for a hour, then it may destroy Catechin." So, don't worry to use boiling water. However, please remember Catechin has bitter/astringent taste. If you steep tea for long time, it makes tea SUPER strong/bitter and you can't enjoy the cup.

What I recommend is steeping tea just like usual and enjoying the 2nd and 3rd infusions. After the 1st infusion, there is much Catechin remaining in leaves. By steeping the same leaves for 2-3 times, you can take much more Catechin. And most importantly,  you can enjoy each cup of tea!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Oh-Fuku-Cha (大福茶)

Do you have any plan for new year holidays?

In Japan, there is old tea tradition for new year called "Oh-Fuku-Cha (大福茶)." Litterally, Oh (大) means big/large, Fuku (福) means happiness and Cha (茶) means tea. Oh-Fuku-Cha is a cup of green tea (Sen Cha) which has a pickled plum and seaweed in, and people drink the tea with wishing heath and happiness of the coming year. In some region, especially in Kyoto (京都), Oh-Fuku-Cha is enjoyed as one of the new year's tradition.

The culture of Oh-Fuku-Cha began in the 10th century. When people were suffering from a plague, a Buddhist monk "Kuya (空也)" made Oh-Fuku-Cha and saved people. Since then, people started drinking Oh-Fuku-Cha to pray for their health in new year.

Making Oh-Fuku-Cha is very easy. A pickled plum and dried seaweed can be found in almost all Asian groceries. If you look for something fun for new year, please try Oh-Fuku-Cha!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taste Buds 101

Q: How many basic tastes are there?

There is sweetness, bitterness, sourness and saltiness… If your answer was “four”, you will learn a new word today – “Umami”.

Umami was recognized as the scientific term to describe the fifth taste in 1985 at the first Umami International Symposium in Hawaii.

“Umami” means “delicious taste” in Japanese, and it was named by a Japanese chemistry professor, Kikunae Ikeda, in early 1900’s. He could not ignore the savory sensation in his soup that could not fit into any of the four basic tastes. So he called it “Umami”.

In the late 1800s, European culinarians knew there was “something else” that tastes so good. The “something” in broth was widely used because it was necessary to create delicious dishes, not knowing the scientific reason. For same r
eason in Japan, a traditional broth called “dashi” made from seaweed was widely used for Japanese cuisine.

Ikeda noticed that the taste of dashi was distinct from sweet, sour, bitter and salty. He studied on it at his lab at Tokyo University. He and his disciple succeeded in extracting glutamate from seaweed and discovered that glutamate (or glutamic acid) was the main active ingredient in seaweed.

So now we know Umami (glutamic acid) is the fifth taste and holds the key to the deliciousness that our taste buds can sense. Umami is in many foods that we eat daily, most notably in fermented and aged
products like soy sauce and cheeses, fish, shellfish, cured meats, vegetables, mushrooms, ripe tomatoes, Chinese cabbage, spinach, green tea, etc.

"Those who pay careful attention to their taste buds will discover in the complex flavor of asparagus, tomatoes, cheese and meat, a common and yet absolutely singular taste which cannot be called sweet, or sour, or salty, or bitter..." he wrote in his journal.

Umami has a lasting after-taste. It is a furriness sensation spreading on the tongue, the throat and the back of the mouth.
When you say “Mmm”, it is when your taste buds are sensing all the complex weave of savory sensations - chemical reaction in your mouth.
Does green tea make you say “Mmm”? Now you know why.

Try our green tea rich in umami. Click the tea.

If you want to learn more about Umami, please visit the Umami Information Center.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Oh yeah! Green Tea Bath

I love green tea. I drink considerable amount of green tea every day. It’s not because of my job, it is because I naturally crave for it.

After lunch, during my work, after dinner, before going to bed, I sip green tea.

I have converted my coke-loving husband into a green tea drinker. He brings teabags to work and drinks routinely, and believe it or not, he has lost some weight.

Now he is talking like a spokesman and converting his co-workers into tea drinkers.

What green tea captivates me is its relaxing flavor and the delicate contrast of bitterness and sweetness that taste buds can sense. The aftertaste of green tea is so nice that keeps me having another sip. If there’s a green tea pool, I might dive into it... Wait. Is there a such thing actually?

There is!

Green tea baths in Japan!

Some places in Japan have such unique baths and hot springs.

The skin is the largest organ in the human body, so it makes sense to me that green tea is good for our body, inside and outside.

I wish I could try the green tea bath, not that I will drink it, though.

Now our best-seller Genmai Cha (Green tea with roasted brown rice & Matcha) is on sale through September.

Check it out at our online store.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tea Maestro's Routine "Tea Cupping"

My father, Tea Maestro Sugimoto, has been making tea for over 40 years. Since he started his career as a tea professional, tea cupping is his daily crucial routine. He performs cupping before, during, and after the tea production to make sure his tea is being produced the way he wants.

He always uses boiling water to steep 4-5 grams of tea leaves. Once pouring the boiling water, he scoops and smells tea leaves. He doesn't necessarily drink the tea. Smell of the tea leaves tells everything. Use of boiling water is very important, he said. The boiling water brings out all the tea's characteristics, even negative elements. The key of the cupping is to find any fault to fix it.
When he finds faults, he meticulously adjust the blending ratio of the tea leaves.

Tea Maestro does this every single day. This is how our green tea is produced.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Eye-Opening Cold-Brewing

So, we've talked about how to make iced green tea with teabag last time.
Today I want to share with you the method of cold-brewing with loose leaf.
No hot water needed. That's right. No hot water at all!

Cold-brewing is a delicious and simple way of making sweet and flavorful green tea. Perfect for summer.
Have you ever wondered why the same green tea you have sometimes taste different?
It is most-likely due to the water temperature you use to brew your tea.

It's all about chemistry. The water temperature changes the balance of catechin (=bitterness) and theanin (=sweetness) in green tea, and gives you a wider range of flavor. So, Here's the tip.
The tea becomes sweeter when brewed with lower temperature.
The tea becomes bitter when brewed with higher temperature. With that in mind, you can enjoy variation of flavor with the same tea by controlling the water temperature. It's worth trying.

Today, we brew with very cold water.

1. Use a little more loose leaf than your regular hot-water brewing. We use 3-4 teaspoons of Sen Cha loose leaf for a 12 oz Tokoname teapot.

2. Add ice cubes and water into the teapot.
3. Brew for 5 minutes.

4. Pour into your favorite glass. When you pour, you may want to shake your teapot a little to evenly pour out the extract. That's all.

It is very flavorful and sweet! Even thought it is not brewed with hot water, it's got the fantastic aroma and color of green tea. You can enjoy the second brewing, the third brewing and even the forth!

Try cold-brewing with SA Sen Cha!
All Sen Cha Loose Leaf products are on sale through August.

Because our SA green tea is "fukamushi (deep-steamed)" green tea, it works perfectly well for cold-brewing.

Another interesting method I want to introduce to you is ice-brewing. I personally have not tried it yet but I am VERY interested.
You literally brew green tea with ice only. Drip by drip brewing slowly. It must be SOOO good.
I found ice-brewing teapot on Amazon.
Anyone wants to try ice-brewing with our Sen Cha?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Iced Green Tea

Are you enjoying the sun?
Try iced green tea in the hot weather like this.
It's so delicious, soothing, healthy and easy to make.

You can use loose leaf or teabag to make iced tea. Loose leaf always gives you its best flavor. But teabag is very convenient and tastes fantastic as well. Follow the instruction to make delicious iced green tea at home using large teabags.

SA Japanese Green Tea has three wonderful flavors of large teabags.
Sen Cha | Classic Green Tea
Hoji Cha | Roasted Green Tea
Genmai Cha | Green Tea with Roasted Brown Rice & Matcha

Make a pitcher of iced green tea and enjoy it with your whole family. Or how about green tea on the rocks? Soothing emerald green and wonderful flavor will surely please your palate.

Key point of making delicious iced green tea is that you need to brew it thick with a little amount of hot water first. Then pour iced water or ice cubes to cool it immediately. It will lock in the flavor and slow down the oxidation.

Pitcher of Iced Green Tea

Drop a teabag in a pitcher. 1-2 teabags per quarter gallon depending on your preferences.

Add a little amount of hot water to brew the tea thick.

Pour iced water to cool it. Keep the pitcher in the fridge and use it up within a day to enjoy its freshness.

Green Tea On The Rocks

Drop a teabag in a glass.

Add a little amount of hot water to brew the tea thick.

Pour ice cubes and enjoy!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Visit Us at World Tea Expo in Las Vegas

Come Visit Us at Booth #416

Sugimoto America is excited to introduce our premium green tea at the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas. Please visit our booth and try varieties of Japanese green tea.

Meet the Maestro

Award-winning tea producer, Tea Maestro Sugimoto will join us from Japan. Come and chat with him or ask him questions. This will be a great opportunity to know more about Japanese green tea and its culture.

World Tea Expo 2011

June 24 - 26, 2011

Location: Las Vegas Convention Center

Address: 3000 Paradise Road

Las Vegas, NV 89109