Loquat leaves tea (Biwa Cha) is a traditional Japanese herbal tea made from leaves of the evergreen loquat tree, also know as Japanese Medlar (Eriobotrya japonica.)
The loquat tree commonly grows to a height of about 5 meters. It is a flowering tree that produces juicy tangerine-color fruits and has long glossy, leaves (15-25 cm) with tiny hairs on their undersides.
The leaves are picked green, washed, and their underside is scraped thoroughly. They are then dried and cut so they can be brewed.
Loquat leaves tea is a pleasant beverage with earthy notes, a hint of sweetness, and light reddish-brown color.
Quick Brew Method
The following instructions are for making 4 cups (800 ml total.)
- Add 2 tablespoons (5 grams) of dried loquat leaves to a pot.
- Add 4 cups of near-boiling water.
- Brew for about 3 minutes.
- Strain and serve hot, or cold.
Japanese Brew Method (Senjiru)
Senjiru (to infuse in Japanese) is a time-tested Japanese brew method to extract the beneficial compounds locked deep in loquat's leaves and to bring out its pleasantly earthy flavor.
The following instructions are for brewing 4 cups of loquat leaves tea the Japanese traditional way.
- Add 2 heaping tablespoons of loquat leaves to 4 cups of cold water.
- Heat to a full, rolling boil.
- Turn heat down and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn heat off and cool down for 10 minutes.
- Strain and serve.
Tips for Brewing a Better Tea
To get the best out of your loquat leaves, use good quality (but never distilled) water. If using tap water, let it run cold for at least 10 seconds before using.
The material your kettle is made of can chemically react with water and cause toxic contamination.
Aluminum kettles should be avoided. Glass, ceramic, stainless steel, enamel, marble, or cast iron are excellent non-reactive, non-toxic materials.
Japanese use loquat leaves as a traditional cure for preventing and treating respiratory ailments.
Loquat leaves also contain compounds demonstrated to lower blood's lipid and sugar levels and alleviate inflammatory skin conditions, including atopic dermatitis (eczema.)
Loquat leaves are listed for their health benefits in Japanese Pharmacopoeia (Nippon Yakkyoku-hō,) the official record of approved medicinal herbs, published by the Government of Japan since 1886.
- Japanese Pharmacopoeia -- 17th Edition. Japan Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices Agency
- 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.
- Antitumor activity of compounds isolated from leaves of Eriobotrya japonica -- Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. 2002 Apr 10;50(8):2400-3.
- 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
- The antitussive, expectorant and anti-asthmatic activities of triterpene acids of loquat leaves in mice and guinea-pigs -- Acta Universitatis Medicinalis Anhui, 2006
- Hypoglycemic effects of sesquiterpene glycosides and polyhydroxylated triterpenoids of Eriobotrya japonica -- Planta Medica 1991, 57(5):414-416
- 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