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!