Scientific Name: Eriobotrya japonica
Flavor: Earthy, very mild, subtle hint of sweetness
Color: Light reddish brown
Biwa Cha is made from dried leaves of Japanese Loquat tree, a large evergreen shrub native to subtropical southern Japan. It is a mild and pleasant beverage, with numerous health benefits. It is quick and easy to prepare at home, as Japanese have done for centuries. You can serve it hot or cold.
The glossy leaves are picked green, after which they are thoroughly washed and cleaned. After a period of drying, the leaves are chopped into small pieces and become ready for brewing.
For higher quality, Japanese cut the dried leaves in ribbon-shape strips, in a style called Tanzaku-kiri (短冊きり). The larger cut Tanzaku-kiri leaves remain closer to their original, natural form, at the same time minimizing oxygen exposure along the cut edges.
Senjiru (煎じる) brewing in essence is a rapid boil, followed by simmer and then cool down period. It is a time-tested Japanese method for extracting the maximum goodness locked deep in the leaves, and to deliver the optimum combination of aroma, flavor and color.
The following instructions are for making four 250ml (8 oz) cups of Biwa Cha:
Pour a little more than 4 cups of cold water into a tea kettle.* Add 5 grams of Biwa leaves (about 2 heaping tablespoons.)
* You will end up with 4 about cups of Biwa Cha, since you will lose some water to evaporation.
Heat to a full, rolling boil.
Turn heat down, and simmer for 15 minutes.
Turn heat off, and wait for about 10 minutes.
Strain and serve. Use a fine mesh tea strainer for best results.
Serve hot or cold.
Biwa Cha is a mild and subtle tea. If your tap water tastes bad, then so probably will your tea.
You should use fresh, good quality water without a lot of minerals (but not distilled water) to get the best flavor out of your tea. If using tap water, let it run cold for at least 10 seconds before using it.
Herbal teas, and indeed all teas, should be prepared in kettles made from a material that is as non-reactive as possible. The material your kettle is made of can chemically react with water, and cause contamination.
Aluminum kettles should definitely to be avoided. Aluminum is a reactive material which has been proven to cause toxic contamination. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, enamel, marble or cast iron are excellent non-reactive, non-toxic materials.
In Japan, Biwa Cha is widely consumed for beautifying skin and healing inflammatory skin conditions such as Psoriasis, Eczema and Atopic Dermatitis. Biwa Cha is also consumed in Japan and China as an alternatives to antitussives (cough suppressant) and expectorants (promoting expulsion of phlegm and mucus) medication.
Scientific studies suggest that loquat leaves reduce sugar cravings and could be beneficial in insulin regulation and appetite suppression. Because of its potent anti-inflammatory properties, Biwa Cha is considered as possible alternative to NSAIDs (Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.)
Scientific studies have shown that various compounds in loquats promote powerful physiological actions such as anti-inflammatory, cough suppressant, getting rid of phlegm and mucus, appetite suppression and insulin regulation. Contains natural high-fiber complex sugars (polysaccharides), which suppress sugar cravings. [See References 1-5]
Also, a number of recent studies have shown that compounds in Loquat can combat type 2 diabetes. According to 2010 study published by PubMed.gov (US National Institute of Health) "The findings provide a nutritional basis for the use of loquat as a functional food factor that may have benefits for the prevention of hyperlipidemia and diabetes." [See Reference 6]
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