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Japanese Loquat Leaves Tea (Biwa Cha)

Benefits and How to Brew: Japanese Senjiru Method

Biwa Cha loquat leaves tea. Serve hot or cold.

Biwa Cha (びわ茶) is a traditional Japanese herbal tea made from dried leaves of Japanese Loquat tree (Eriobotrya japonica), a large evergreen shrub native to subtropical southern Japan.

Biwa Japanese Loquat leaves Eriobotrya japonica

It is a mild and pleasant beverage, with numerous health benefits. It is easy to brew at home, and you can serve it either hot or cold.

Large Cuts for Better Quality

The glossy leaves are picked green, after which they are thoroughly washed, cleaned and dried so they can be brewed.

Japanese do not crush the dried leaves. Instead. they cut them either in strips in a style called Tanzaku-giri (短冊きり), or in pieces about the size of a person's thumb (Sun-giri style, 寸切り).

Earthy, very mild, subtle hint of sweetness

Crushed leaves are many times more prone to oxidation along their edges. Tanzaku-giri or Sun-giri cust minimize oxygen exposure, with the leaves as close to their natural form as possible.

Biwa Cha Profile

  • Type: Herbal
  • Caffeine: None
  • Flavor: Earthy, mild, subtle hint of sweetness
  • Color: Light reddish brown

How to Brew

Japanese Senjiru Method

Senjiru (煎じる, to infuse) is the Japanese traditional way of brewing herbal teas at home done in successive steps of a rapid boil, simmer, and cool down.

It is a time-tested way for quickly extracting the maximum goodness locked deep in the leaves and for enhancing aroma, flavor, and color.

Successive steps of rapid boil, simmer, and cool down

The following instructions are to prepare four 250ml (8 oz) cups of Biwa Cha.

Important: Always use good quality water and a non-reactive kettle.

How to make Japanese Style Loquat Tea (Biwa Cha)-1

1 - Pour a little more than 4 cups of cold water into a tea kettle. Add 5 grams of Biwa leaves (about 2 heaping tablespoons.)

How to make Japanese Style Loquat Tea (Biwa Cha)-2

2 - Heat to a full, rolling boil.

How to make Japanese Style Loquat Tea (Biwa Cha)-3

3 - Turn heat down, and simmer for 15 minutes.

How to make Japanese Style Loquat Tea (Biwa Cha)-4

4 - Turn heat off, and wait for about 10 minutes.

How to make Japanese Style Loquat Tea (Biwa Cha)-5

5 - Strain and serve.

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About Water Quality

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.

Using a Non-reactive Kettle

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.

Use good water and a non reactive kettle

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Benefits

Biwa leaves are listed as a medicinal herb in the Pharmacopoeia of Japan (Nippon Yakkyoku Hou), the authoritative record published by the Japanese government since 1886. [1]

Japanese use Biwa leaves as a traditional cure to relieve itchy skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema)and for treatment of chronic bronchitis and coughs.

Biwa leaves contain natural high-fiber complex sugars (polysaccharides), which help suppress appetite and sugar cravings. Loquats leaves have shown to be effective in combatting type 2 diabetes and in treatment of hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Various compounds in promote powerful physiological actions such as

  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAIDs) [2, 4]
  • Anti-tumor [2, 3]
  • Antitussive and expectorant [4, 5]
  • Insulin regulation [6, 7]

Recent research has demonstrated the anti-osteoporosis effect of the Ursolic acid contained in Biwa leaves.[8]

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References

  1. Japanese Pharmacopoeia
    17th Edition. Japan Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency
  2. Anti-inflammatory and Antitumor-Promoting Effects of the Triterpene Acids from the Leaves of Eriobotrya japonica
    Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin. 2005 Oct;28(10):1995-9.
  3. Antitumor activity of compounds isolated from leaves of Eriobotrya japonica
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2002 Apr 10;50(8):2400-3.
  4. Studies on constituents of triterpene acids from Eriobotrya japonica and their anti-inflammatory and antitussive effects
    Journal of Chinese Pharmaceutical Sciences 38(10):752-757, Oct 2003
  5. The antitussive, expectorant and anti-asthmatic activities of triterpene acids of loquat leaves in mice and guinea-pigs
    Acta Universitatis Medicinalis Anhui, 2006
  6. Hypoglycemic effects of sesquiterpene glycosides and polyhydroxylated triterpenoids of Eriobotrya japonica
    Planta Medica 1991, 57(5):414-416
  7. Tormentic Acid, a Major Component of Suspension Cells of Eriobotrya japonica, Suppresses High-Fat Diet-Induced Diabetes and Hyperlipidemia
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014, 62 (44), pp 10717–10726
  8. Inhibitory Effects of the Leaves of Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) on Bone Mineral Density Loss in Ovariectomized Mice and Osteoclast Differentiation
    Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 2014, 62 (4), pp 836–841

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