A Japanese Tea Guide
Tea may have first been consumed in China but its been around in Japan since at least the 9th century when Buddhist monks brought seeds over from the Chinese mainland. Since then, Japanese tea has earned itself an international reputation for being the healthiest and of the highest grade. It’s even worked its way deep into their culture as is evident in the centuries old traditional tea ceremony. In this article we will focus on some of the most popular Japanese tea types.
Gobocha, also known as burdock root tea, features strong anti-ageing anti-oxidants. The bitter tasting, yet super healthy burdock plant grows naturally in the regions of East Asia, Europe and North America. The entire plant is healthy but its the rather unappealing looking root (pictured above) which carries most of the anti-ageing benefits.
Gobocha can be purchased as tea bags or in its root format. If you can only get it as a root then simply grate it into shavings and put it in the sun to dry for a few hours before roasting it to a golden brown color. Boil 3 grams of the root shavings per 400ml of water and enjoy! Be sure to store the rest of the root in an airtight container.
This is undoubtedly the most popular type in Japan and East Asia, if not around the world too. It’s long list of incredible health benefits have been well documented and scientifically confirmed. The are a number of varieties which is why we had to create a separate page on it which you can read here.
There are two types of kombucha; the original Japanese tea version and the Western version. We will obviously be focusing on the Japanese variety but you can read an informative article on the differences between the two here.
Japanese kombucha is made from the healthy kombu kelp, which is why the name translates to ‘Kombu kelp tea’. It’s normally made by powdering the kelp and mixing it with either black or green tea. It’s super rich in calcium, iron, iodine and various fibers. Kombucha is also known to boost the immune system and for lowering cholesterol among many other health benefits.
The slightly bitter tasting mugicha is naturally caffeine-free and consumed in countries such as China, Korea and Japan. It’s believed to have been consumed by the Japanese as early as the Heian period (794-1185). It’s made from roasted barley and is commonly enjoyed chilled. Mugicha is great for hydration, stress reduction, cleansing the body and even preventing cavities. Although, it must be noted that mugicha is an acquired taste since many people from outside East Asia complain about its peculiar bitterness.
Mugicha can be pretty hard to find outside of East Asia but in Japan it’s easily found as tea bags (hot beverages) or in bottles (cold beverages) from most stores or certain vending machines. A word of caution: gluten gets released during the brewing process, so it might be best to avoid it if you are particularly sensitive to gluten.
Shiitake mushrooms, which are rich in vitamins and minerals, has been a commonly used ingredient in a variety of Japanese dishes for at least the last 800 years. But did you know that these mushrooms can also be used as a super healthy tea which comes with an enormous amount of incredible health benefits? After all, it’s commonly used in Japan as an effective cancer treatment. It also helps with stress reduction, boosting the immune system, improves blood circulation, increases natural energy levels and lots more. Read more about these health benefits at organicfacts.
You can buy shiitake at any good health store as either mushrooms or tea bags. If you can only get them as mushrooms, then simply chop them up and let them soak for a couple of minutes in hot water before drinking.
Shogayu is a type of Japanese ginger tea and the word translates to ‘ginger hot water’. It’s excels at treating cold and flu symptoms which is why its most commonly consumed during the extremely cold winters in Japan.
Shogayu can be purchased at health stores or you can easily make your own. To make shogayu simply mix grated ginger pieces into a cup with either honey or syrup. Add hot water and stir well before consuming.
Sobacha is a caffeine free, tartary buckwheat tea which is commonly consumed in China, Korea and Japan. It’s made by soaking buckwheat or roasted kernels in hot water and is a popular alternative to the green tea varieties. The health benefits from consuming sobacha mainly comes from its richness in antioxidants such as rutin and vitexin. These antioxidants results in improved blood circulation, prevention of leg edema and diabetes, among others.
There is a potential downside though. Over consumption could potentially lead to phototoxicity but these negative side effects are extremely rare and one would have to consume an enormous amount for that to occur.
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