Friday, July 30, 2004

Pictures of a Mellow Monk grower's '04 tea harvest

Here are photos of one of Mellow Monk's growers harvesting this year's crop of tea. Our friends at the Nagata chaen (tea farm), located in Aso, Japan, took these and sent them to us on a CD-ROM along with our most recent green tea shipment.

As you can see, tea growers in today's Japan don't pick the tea by hand—not unless they're growing ultra-premium tea that would cost an arm and a leg. Besides, hand-picking doesn't enhance the flavor anyway. In Japan, hand-picking is a marketing ploy; in a low-wage country, it's because human labor is cheaper than using machines.

What makes a good green tea are the right climate and soil, a good-quality variety of tea plant, proper care during the growing season and the dormant season, how promptly after harvest the tea is processed (the longer it sits around, the more oxidation occurs), how the tea is processed, and how the tea is stored before being shipped out.

For instance, at the Nagata Chaen, the Nagata family harvests on a given day only as much as they can process at the end of the day, so that none of the "raw" tea leaves sit in storage overnight. That's what assures a fresh, earthy taste in the tea, and what protects the disease-fighting antioxidants from oxidation, which begins as soon as the leaves are picked.

We'll talk about the other tea-quality factors over the coming days. Stay tuned!

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Thursday, July 29, 2004

Article: "Perfect health pyramid" (

What we liked about this guide for healthy living, in which green tea plays a role (of course), is that it doesn't just focus on diet and exercise but also on the emotional aspects of health. The author refers to this well-rounded approach as a
perfect health pyramid. We believe that a significant part of the health benefit of green tea, especially loose-leaf green tea, is the relaxation that comes with taking a short break from your hectic day to prepare the tea. When the time comes to drink the tea you've prepared, this benefit is multiplied if you can turn away from your computer monitor or whatever you're doing, and stop and savor the tea. That is the Mellow Monk philosophy!

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Article: "Slim while you sleep" (Sunday Telegraph)

This article, from Australia's Sunday Telegraph, offers these relatively painless ways to lose weight ... including drinking green tea. The author cites a Swiss study that "found that green tea has thermogenic properties and promotes fat oxidation." We at never cease to be amazed at how something as simple as green tea can contain so many compounds with health-promoting effects.

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Article: "Drinking tea keeps blood pressure down—study" (Reuters)

Here's an article on a study showing that green tea can lower blood pressure. Findings about the many health benefits of drinking green tea are announced almost every day, it seems. As medical science continues to advance, who knows what other amazing benefits of drinking green tea will come to light.

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