As an aside from my usual surveys, here is a short commercial message!
I’ve added a new advertiser to my blog, Mellow Monk’s Green Teas, a reseller of finest Japanese green tea to primarily the American market (shipping back to Japan is a bit coals-to-Newcastle-ish!), selected from family-run farms in not the famous tea growing districts of Shizuoka or Uji, but on the southern Kyushu island. All their teas are shipped vacuum-sealed, which means you drink it just as fresh as I can here in Japan.
Mellow Monk’s range includes not just green teas, but also genmaicha, green tea with toasted rice, a wonderfully nutty flavour that I find really warming on cold days, and houjicha, roasted (thus lower in caffeine) tea. Their houjicha is interesting in that they only lightly roast, thus retaining a lot of the colour in the brew, rather than the brown shades that I am familiar with. Typing that description has made me want to order some now!
Green tea has lots of claimed health benefits; it’s rich in anti-oxidants which has been shown to be beneficial in protecting against many lifestyle diseases. Japan has a very high male smoking rate, but a lower incidence of lung cancer than other countries. However, as green tea drinking rates drop, faster than the smoking rates, deaths from lung cancer are increasing. One wonders if there is any connection. The distinctive astringent flavour of green tea comes from catechin, the particular anti-oxidant green tea is rich in, a substance that gets heavily promoted in Japan as an aid to weight loss and combating the dreaded “metabo“, metabolic syndrome.
Regardless of any of these real or alleged health benefits, green tea is a lovely drink that goes very well with food; every night at home we always have either green tea or houjicha with our dinner, whether it be a Japanese or Western menu. It’s also a very sensible drink in the current economic climate; I find that just one heaped small teaspoon suffices for a pot for two (even using decent-sized mugs) and a refill brews just as nice a second or even third cup each. That’s about 20 cents per litre of Mellow Monk’s standard leaf.
Green tea is perhaps a flavour that takes a little getting used to, so if you’re new to it, I would recommend either Mellow Monk’s‘s houjicha or genmaicha as milder drinks, or just use less leaves or more water when brewing!
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