Loquat leaves tea (Biwa Cha) is a traditional Japanese herbal tea made from leaves of the evergreen loquat tree, also know and Japanese medlar (Eriobotrya japonica.)
The loquat tree commonly grows to a height of about 5 meters. It is a flowering tree which 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, hint of sweetness, and light reddish-brown color.
Japanese use loquat leaves as a traditional cure for treating coughs, beautifying skin, reducing inflammatory conditions, and relieving itchy skin conditions such as in eczema (atopic dermatitis.)
Loquat leaves also contain compounds demonstrated to decrease blood sugar levels, lower cholesterol, and improve heart health.
Loquat leaves are listed for their health benefits in Japanese Pharmacopoeia (Nippon Yakkyoku-hō,) the official record of approved medicinal herbs by the Government of Japan.
How to Brew
Japanese Senjiru Method
Senjiru (to infuse) 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.
- Pour a little more than 4 cups of cold water into a kettle. Add 5 grams of loquat leaves (about two heaping tablespoons.)
- 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, hot or cold.
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 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