Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The fascinating world of Japanese Green Tea!




The magic and spiritual beauty of a Japanese tea ceremony


Archeological evidence suggests that people consumed tea leaves steeped in boiling water as many as 5,000 years ago. Botanical evidence indicates that India and China were among the first countries to cultivate tea. Green tea has been consumed throughout the ages in India, China, Japan, and Thailand for pleasure and traditional Chinese Japanese and Indian medicine. Have you ever thought about breaking from your everyday black tea routine, and trying some green tea? Perhaps you thought it is too exotic, or were unsure how it would taste. It's time to get out of your tea ignorance, and brew up a cup of green tea. This will change your life! Journey into the fascinating world of O-Cha in the Shizuoka region, on Japan southern Pacific coast, on the foot on the Mount Fuji!




Black tea? Green tea? It comes from the same plant (Camellia sinensis), but the difference is in the processing. Green tea is dried, but not fermented. The shorter processing gives green tea a lighter flavor than black tea. It also helps keep all the beneficial chemicals intact, which is why green tea is so good for the organism.


Food delicacies tea-leaves base, in Kakegawa city, shizuoka prefecture



Matcha! The secret and tasteful Green tea is to be served at a Japanese tea ceremony With a light green color, it served according to the old rule of the Japanese Tea ceremony and often mixed with Japanese cakes.



Green tea (O-Cha, Matcha) nowadays has other functions than just drinking or eating leaf tea, it is good as a medicine. Soft medicine. This is possible through various researches, and evidence is starting to reveal that green tea contains many components that are good for human health, and is effective against aging, overweight, preventing influenza, the so-called lifestyle diseases, dementia.

Shizuoka Prefecture is a well-known traditional green tea region with geographical features and climate suited for growing tea. It is Japan’s top producer of green tea, and has 41% of Japan’s tea production, and 42% in terms of crude tea output. With its high production technology, Shizuoka produces high quality green tea, winning prizes in various fairs.

In the run-up to the 4th International Conference on O-CHA Culture and Science in October later this year, I noticed the varied efficacy of green tea, looked at the aspects of using tea in medical treatment and saw where it is produced. Also Shizuoka is offering a new business model in agriculture, on the theme of self-sufficiency and the environment, and bringing back into use the much-discussed abandoned farmland.

Governor Heita Kawakatsu of Shizuoka Prefecture fancies the green tea and the productive environment of regions. "Shizuoka has everything the Fuji san, te sea the land and the mountains, the water is delicious and the tea the best in the world! He interpreted the whole concept here in music VDO



video
Click the arrow to watch Governor Heita Kawakatsu
singing his tea favorite "ballade".


Green tea and Health benefits

Dr. Yoichi Sameshima, Director of the Green Tea Medical Application Center of the Kakegawa City General Hospital studied a more effective treatment for hepatitis C, he found the possibility that green tea’s antioxidant and metabolism efficacy may be effective in preventing and treating the so-called metabolic syndrome.



Kakegawa Study is the epidemiology research co-conducted by Tohoku University, Kakegawa City and Kakegawa City General Hospital. The three-year research, which started in June 2009, is aiming to collect scientific evidence from human beings on green tea’s effect, to explicate which kind of green tea is most effective, and to develop new food products. By the time this research concludes in fiscal year 2011, between 5,000 and 10,000 citizens will have cooperated in the research.

Currently, it is said that 20 million people in Japan are either suffering from or are likely to suffer from metabolic syndrome, and 2/3 of the Japanese die of lifestyle-related illnesses. 230 million people in the world are suffering from diabetes’ effect and the number of patients is on the rise. In these situations, green tea’s anti-arteriosclerosis effect has been proved through many experiments on animals, but few on human beings, and is therefore it is not yet established scientifically. Therefore, the KAKEGAWA STUDY is a unique and widely-noticed major research.

To name some major areas where green tea appears to be effective:anticancer, antioxidant, antibacterial, antivirus, reduces blood pressure and blood sugar, deodorant, prevents cavities.


Dr. Naohide Kinae (R) President of the University of Shizuoka, Dr. Tsutomu Nakayama (L) Professor and Dean School of Food and Nutritional Sciences

In December 2009, the University of Shizuoka and ITO EN conducted a co-research project and found that the catechin in green tea holds back the activities of the H1N1 virus; this was the first verification on a cellular level.


And how to make a living with tea business?

Kazuhiro Matsuki, moved to Shibakawa-cho, Shizuoka Prefecture, after working for 17 years in hotels and restaurants with Joel ROBUCHON both at home and abroad. On abandoned farmland, he is developing agricultural projects to revive agriculture in mountainous land and diffuse a new business model. Annual sales: over 150 million Yen!



Aiming at permanent agriculture by featuring self-support and recycling, the farm produces over 80 items of seasonal garden vegetables and herbs, which are 100% free of pesticides and chemical fertilizers.

Shibakawa-cho is at a height of 200m above sea level with abundant melt water from Mount Fuji, suitable land for agriculture. In the 20 areas of the 3 hectare farm, a rotation system is adopted and they are producing small amounts of but various kinds of vegetables. The farm is trying to use a form of agriculture which is environmental friendly and totally free from pesticides.


Clean farming

100% free of pesticides, using organic fertilizer and homemade grass compost, the owner of this farm, Mr. Yoshiharu Matsushita, is managing a 9 hectare organic tea field and he does everything from planting tea bushes to manufacturing tea.



In 2008, he obtained the international certification of the Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association (JONA). The certification is based on the policies of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) and is awarded to those who meet JONA’s international standards. Mr. Matsushita has been exporting tea to France since 1998, the exact same tea even after receiving the certification. It is the first Japanese green tea to be exported to Europe that meets the international standards with organic certification. Then came the testing part and I have to say that I enjoyed both the Ma-Cha tea and the delicate art of Green tea service.



"Green tea Gourmet" corner, a selection of Best Green Tea

best green teas

Sencha is the most popular of Japan's green teas. It has a lightly astringent taste along with a slight sweetness. Lesser quality sencha tea is called bancha

top green tea varieties

Dragonwell green tea (also called Lung Ching) is the ultimate green tea. The name comes from a legendary well in the West Lake region of China where the tea is produced. The colour is bright green and the flavour is quite brisk. Be prepared to pay more than usual for this quality tea

kinds of green tea

Macha is the kind of green tea used in tradtional Japanese tea ceremony. It's ground up very fine, and the tea is whisked when prepared. The flavour is light and sweet. Macha works well added to desserts too.

best green tea

These tea leaves are rolled into tight, little balls that apparently resemble old-style gunpowder. Because of the rolled form, Gunpowder green tea stays fresher longer than most other green teas. The taste is fresh and a little grassy.

tea

Jasmine isn't exactly a kind of green tea, but is a blended tea with green tea leaves and jasmine flowers. The blossoms give the tea a very refreshing taste, and fragrant aroma.

kinds of tea

Like the jasmine tea, genmaicha isn't a kind of green tea but a blend. This time, sencha green tea is mixed with toasted brown rice. This tea has a distinctive flavour.

green tea

Anji green tea is becoming popular due to its fine and subtle flavor. Its grown in the Zhejiang region of China and has thin little leaves that look almost black in dry form.





Press tour and interviews realized with the Foreign Press Center, Japan ( FPC ) 2010/o5
Reporter's Notes




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