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Japanese Organic Teas: Sencha, Hojica, Kukicha, Mu 16, and Medicinal Teas
The first thing you will be offered as soon as you sit down in a Japanese home will be a cup of hot, slightly bitter and refreshing green tea. As has been written before, green tea is a symbol of hospitality in Japan. The Japanese refer to green tea as "Sencha" and are so fond of green tea that it is present at almost every social occasion. Brought to Japan by Zen priests, green tea was used as a means to assist clarity in meditation during long hours of intensive practice. The very finest green tea inspired the practice "Sadou" or The Way of Tea, more commonly known as the Japanese "Tea Ceremony." From monasteries green tea made its way into Japanese palaces and then on to common people's dwellings. Mitoku's Organic Nagata teas come from the Uji province and are harvested at their peak between June and September, then naturally sun-dried and hand-rolled.
Preparing Japanese Tea
The art of Japanese tea preparation and presentation involves paying attention to water temperature, steeping time, and serving methods. If the water is hotter than required, the delicate taste of green tea might be lost; steeping too long can produce teas that are dark and bitter.
The Japanese traditionally serve sencha in small delicate tea cups; hojicha and kukicha are generally served in larger, handle-less mugs. Tea is never served with sugar or milk - if sweetness is desired, a little rice syrup can be added.
Kukicha is the easiest Japanese tea to brew. Unlike other varieties, which are never boiled, kukicha is simmered to extract the full flavor from its twigs.
Simply add three level tablespoons of kukicha to one quart of water, bring to a boil, and simmer gently for three to five minutes. Pour the tea through a strainer into the cups, and return the twigs to the pot. The twigs can be used once again, but a few fresh twigs may need to be added for full-bodied flavor. If you are using kukicha tea bags, steep one tea bag in one cup of hot water for five to six minutes. Serve hot or chilled with lemon if you prefer. For a refreshing summer drink, combine chilled kukicha with an equal portion of apple juice.
Hojicha and sencha are closely related and are brewed in the same way. Because sencha contains more caffeine, however, it is served in smaller quantities, and is never used to quench one's thirst. A large teapot is useful if you are serving more than two people. Warm the teapot by filling it with hot water. Pour the water out and add one level tablespoon of tea for each cup of water you will be boiling. In another pot, bring cold, pure water to a full boil, then immediately remove it from the heat. Let the water sit a minute before pouring it over the tea leaves or tea bag in the warmed pot. Allow the tea to steep for only a minute, or it will become bitter. If you are using bulk tea, strain it as it is poured into the cups. Alternate pouring a little tea into each cup, until the pot is completely drained. This pouring method will ensure each person's tea to be about the same strength. The leaves may be reused once or twice. For both sencha and hojicha, fresh leaves should not be added to used ones - discard spent leaves, rinse the pot, and begin fresh. Unlike sencha, which becomes bitter when cooled, hojicha makes a delicious and refreshing cool summer beverage.
Sencha, hojicha, and kukicha are available in good-quality tea bags and in bulk. However, if stored improperly, these teas can become stale quickly. Buy no more than a one month supply at a time, and keep it stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.
For centuries Uji has produced the most highly regarded tea in Japan. The clean, smooth taste of Nagata Teas reflects the care and concern they give to their crops and the environment. Mitoku Organic Hojicha is a high quality, traditional green tea with a distinctive, smoky flavor and aroma. Hojicha is made from select bancha tea leaves that are gently roasted, then cooled and hermetically sealed at once to keep in their rich, appetizing flavor. Refreshing and mild, Nagata Organic Hojicha is suitable for any time of day. Ready to drink in an instant, it is ideal for use at home, work or when traveling. Use for a warming and invigorating hot tea, or chill for a cooling and refreshing summer beverage. Hojicha is known as "Bancha" in Japan.
A thirst-quenching yet delicate beverage made from the select twigs and stems of carefully nurtured green tea bushes that have matured at least three years before cutting. The clippings are sun-dried for up to a week, then precisely roasted according to size and combined with a small percentage of roasted tea leaves. Mild and soothing, Mitoku Kukicha is an ideal drink for children and adults alike, at any time of day. Drink hot in winter or add lemon for a refreshing, clean taste, or in summer serve chilled with apple juice. Lowest in caffeine of all traditional Japanese green teas.
Although there has been very little, if any, medical research into the health benefits of drinking kukicha or twig tea, traditional folklore suggests that this beverage has a soothing, beneficial effect on digestion, blood quality, and the mind. Several macrobiotic healing tonics made from combinations of kukicha, soy sauce, and umeboshi or ume extract have many medicinal uses, ranging from alkalizing the blood to relieving hangovers. Chemical analysis of the kukicha twigs has shown that the tea may be a good source of calcium, iron, and vitamins A and C, and because it has very little caffeine, it is safe for children and infants to drink.
Mu 16 Tea
The word Mu has several meanings; it can mean "nothing," or "emptiness," and also "unique." Mitoku Mu Tea is an ideal, aromatic and caffeine-free blend of 16 mountain grown herbs. The original recipe for this unique and distinctive beverage was created by George Ohsawa, the father of Macrobiotics. It is a balanced tonic that both energizes and soothes the body. It strengthens both the stomach and reproductive organs. Men can reap additional strength and vitality from drinking Mu Tea. Mitoku Mu Tea is blended the exact same way Ohsawa once did and possesses a spicy, sweet, full bodied flavor. Great served hot or try making a delicious winter punch by mixing with cider. Also makes a refreshing caffeine-free summer ice tea. The herbs in Mitoku Mu Tea are never irradiated or fumigated.
It is composed of a combination of 16 plants and wild herbs: Japanese peony root (Paeonia lactiflora), Japanese parsley root, hoelen (Poria cocos), Chinese cinnamon, licorice, peach kernels, ginseng root, Chinese foxglove (Rhemannia glutinosa), ginger root, mandarin peel, Cnidium officinale, Atractylodes, Cyperus, cloves (Eugenia car yophyllata), moutan (Paeonia moutan), and Coptis. Although the drink is a combination of yin and yang ingredients, as a whole it is a yang composition. Mu tea is available in the Mitoku label.
Preparation and Use of Mu Tea:
1. For healthy people: Boil the contents of one tea bag (you may open the bag) for 10 minutes in 3 cups of water. This tea is good to relieve tiredness and to lose weight.
2. For sick people: Boil the content of one tea bag in 3 cups of water for 30 minutes (boil for the first 5 minutes, then simmer for 25 minutes). Boil until only 1½ cups of tea is left. That is the serving for one person per day. This tea may be reheated.
Yin sick people can take this tea every day for 1 to 2 weeks, especially when they are suffering from:
o troubles of the digestive system, such as a weak stomach
o troubles of the respiratory system, such as coughing caused by yin
o troubles of the reproductive organs, such as menstrual cramps or irregular menstruation
o yin sanpaku (the whites of the eyes showing below the iris)
This premium quality Japanese green tea is made from the season's first tender, young leaves, hand-harvested at their peak of flavor. By a unique Japanese process, the freshly picked leaves are briefly steamed to capture their complex flavor and emerald green color, then rolled into curls and oven-dried. In Japan, Sencha is a prized tea served at high class restaurants and at home to make guests feel welcome and honored. Stimulating yet soothing, Sencha has long been used by Zen monks to promote mental clarity and calmness during prolonged meditations. Unlike Indian or Chinese green teas on the market, Mitoku Sencha is considered medicinal due to its high concentration of catechins.
Makes 1 cup
Umeboshi tea, taken warm, helps combat fatigue, improve circulation, and aid digestion.
1 cup kukicha tea
1/2 large or 1 small umeboshi, pitted and shredded
A few drops shoyu (to taste)
A few drops fresh ginger juice
Bring kukicha tea to a boil. Remove from heat, add umeboshi, shoyu, and ginger juice. Let steep 1-2 minutes before drinking.
"Yansen" Dandelion Root Extract
Dandelion is the king of wild grasses. It has a bitter, yet slightly sweet taste and gives the system a very strong and potent energy. Mitoku "Yansen," a unique concentrated liquid, is carefully prepared by gently boiling down the liquid extract from wild dandelion roots. Traditionally used to strengthen the heart and small intestine function and increase vitality. Use sparingly in hot kukicha or hot water to make a health-giving drink. One tablespoon of dandelion root concentrate to one quart of water.
Blended according to a traditional farmhouse recipe, Mitoku Umesho makes the ideal natural pick-me-up drink at any time of day. It is a deliciously refreshing, invigorating and 100% natural concentrate made from Japanese umeboshi plums and aged shoyu. Umesho can be especially helpful after over consumption of food or drink. Umesho neutralizes acidic conditions and strengthens the blood and circulation through the regulation of digestion. Traditionally used for nausea, anxiety and travel sickness. For increased blood circulation, mix to taste, with a little ginger powder added to hot water or bancha (hojicha) tea to make the traditional Japanese "umeshoban."
Hato Mugi Tea
Hato Mugi Tea was traditionally used for clearing up moles, warts, and boils and for eliminating age-spots, freckles, rashes and blemishes. It is prized and excellent in harmonizing body energy and drawing out and softening excess body fat or protein. Hato Mugi melts excess animal protein and fat and helps to beautify the skin.
Hokkaida Kombu Drink "Kombu-Cha"
Kombu is an essential sea vegetable for the Japanese. On Hokkaido Island, the center for kombu collecting, kombu is sun-dried and ground into powder, then combined with shoyu and natural brown rice malt to make Mitoku Hokkaido Kombu Drink, a popular warming and nourishing beverage. Kombu is known in the world as the "king of seaweeds" as it absorbs nutrients from its large porous fronds, which then travel to its vast root, making this the ultimate blood strengthener. Mitoku "Kombu-Cha" is finally here after popular demand! It is said by our customers to be the natural viagra...
Mitoku "Mugicha" or roasted barley tea is a traditional drink that has been a favorite for centuries in the Far East. Naturally caffeine-free, its mellow, soothing flavor can be enjoyed by everyone at any time of day. Served chilled in summer, it is delightfully cooling and refreshing. In winter, hot Mugicha is both warming and relaxing.
The barley in Mitoku Mugicha Tea bags is "yuuki" grown in Japan. It produces a light, cooling effect and is especially beneficial for the liver and gallbladder. Each tea bag is a tea pot size bag and can be cold-brewed in the refrigerator or brewed hot. Each tea bag makes approx. 1 Qt./32 oz. of roasted barley tea.
How to Make Corsican Seaweed Tea
Corsican Seaweed Tea is a fox-like plant which grows beneath the warmer waters of the Atlantic and Pacific. It is traditionally prepared in a tea to relieve intestinal parasites. In Japan it is known as Makuri. In the old days, Japanese schoolchilldren who resided near the seaside were given makuri tea once a month to safeguard their health. Mitoku "Makuri" (Corsican Seaweed Tea) is completely safe.
To Prepare: Add one-quarter ounce (approx. 12.3 grams) of Corsican Seaweed to 2 Cups of spring water. Cook down slowly until 1 Cup of liquid remains. Drink before breakfast or on an empty stomach and wait at least 2 hours before taking any food.
-Adapted from Aveline Kushi's Book: Complete Guide to Macrobiotic Cooking