Friday, August 31, 2007

Japan's bring-your-own-thermos tea shops

As a fresh and eco-friendly alternative to bottled tea, tea shops in Japan are beginning to offer freshly brewed green tea to customers who bring in their own thermos.


Not only do you get fresh tea—as opposed to tea that's been sitting in a plastic bottle since who-knows-when—but you spare the earth the ecological expense of producing plastic bottles and transporting them over hundreds or even thousands of miles.


It is yet another reason, Grasshopper, for you to brew your own tea instead of letting someone else do it for you.



"When you can snatch the cold-brewed green tea pouch from my hand, it will be time for you to leave, Grasshopper."


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Panoramas of the New Seven Wonders of the World

Here you can see amazing 360-degree panoramas of the "new" Seven Wonders of the World.


These Quicktime shots may take a while to load, depending on your Internet connection, but they are well worth the wait.


For a reminder of what the "old school" Seven Wonders of the World are, click here.


Call me old fashioned, but I still think that the Great Pyramid of Giza, which was one of the original Seven Wonders—and the only one still standing today—should be on the new list. But then again, the new list of Seven Wonders was decided by vote, so as Tony Soprano would say, whattaya gonna do? Then again, there is some controversy over the voting process.



Click on the photo above to see a 360-degree panorama of the inside of the Great Wall, or click on the link at the top of the page to see panoramas of all seven wonders.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Announcing cold-brewed iced green tea!

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that drinking iced green tea actually has a long history in the United States.


Well, Mellow Monk has made carrying on that tradition a whole lot easier with—drumroll, please—Cold-Brewed Iced Green Tea Pouches.


"Cold-brewed" means that you don't have to boil water; simply add one of the ultrafine-mesh nylon tea pouches to a pitcher or other container of water, then stir, put in the refrigerator for 2 hours, and you've got a pitcherful of cold, tasty, healthy iced green tea.


And like all other Mellow Monk teas, this tea is from family-owned and -operated tea farms in the mountains of Aso, Japan.


We're very excited about this new tea, and as far as I know, cold-brewed green tea pouches like these aren't available anywhere else in America. To read more, click here.



Healthy, tasty, and convenient—that's Mellow Monk's Cold-Brewed Iced Green Tea Pouches.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Green tea ice cream

Below is the TV commercial that Häagen-Dazs is running for its green tea ice cream in Japan, where it's the company's top-selling flavor.


I've also heard through the grapevine that Häagen-Dazs Green Tea Ice Cream is coming soon to the U.S.





—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Monday, August 27, 2007

The arm-breaking arcade game

If you run across one of these arcade games in Japan, then steer clear unless you want to come home with a plaster cast as a souvenir of your trip.



The arm-breaking arm-wrestling machine.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Yokohama circa 1910

Here you'll find a collection of glass-plate transparencies taken in Yokohama, Japan, circa 1910.



A family under the wisteria blossoms.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Review of foods and drinks made with green tea

More and more foods and drinks containing green tea are being released on the market—although there is an easier, calorie-free, more certain way to get all the benefits of green tea—drink green tea!

Green tea, rich in antioxidants, has long been praised for its healthful properties. In an attempt to make every bite count, food manufacturers have added green tea to sweet and savory foods and drinks, albeit with varying degrees of success. At best, it gives a nutty earthiness; at worst, it can taste as if someone dropped lawn clippings in the snack mix.

Food section staffers tasted 13 products with green-tea additives listed as an ingredient. In some items, such as the sodas, the green tea or matcha (fine, powdered green tea) was practically undetectable. But in chocolate and frozen treats, it overpowered other ingredients.


Some of the many products containing green tea that are available today.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New discovery: how antioxidants in green tea prevent cancer and other diseases

Scientists at Clemson University have discovered a mechanism by which antioxidants in foods such as green tea prevent cancer, cardiovascular diseases, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases.


Such diseases are known to arise from damage to DNA. What the Clemson researchers found is that antioxidants bind to iron and copper that is naturally present in the human body. This binding prevents the iron and copper from forming reactive oxygen compounds that damage DNA.


The findings, which were achieved with a grant from the American Heart Association, were announced this week at the 234th annual American Chemical Society national meeting in Boston.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Monday, August 20, 2007

Modern Japanese bamboo art


TAI Gallery/Textile Arts, located in Santa Fe New Mexico, is one of the world's finest galleries featuring the art of traditional textiles, Japanese bamboo art, and contemporary Japanese photography.


"Sun," by Takesonosai Higashi


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Suiseki, Japan's rock art

Felix Rivera, a maker and collector of Japanese suiseki, a form of rock art, has not one, not two but three online galleries of his work.



Felix calls this his number-one suiseki...



... but this one is my personal favorite.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Friday, August 17, 2007

A video tour through a Tokyo sushi bar

A couple put a video camera on the conveyor belt of a sushi bar in Tokyo and sent it on its way—past customers (some aware, some not) and even through the kitchen. The video is set to the tune of—what else?—"Send Me On My Way" by Rusted Root (so you may wish to check your sound volume before clicking "play").





—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Green tea boosts body's detox enzymes

A study done at the University of Arizona shows that green tea can boost the body's production of detoxifying enzymes by as much as 80 percent. These important enzymes help prevent cancer by destroying carcinogenic toxins.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Doctor fish—a new Asian health trend

"Doctor fish" is a nickname given to two species of small fish traditionally kept in Turkish-style baths in the Middle East. Able to live in hot water, the fish also nibble the dead skin of bathers and so have been used as a folk remedy for skin conditions such as psoriasis. (The fish nibble only dead skin, not live skin.)


The "doctor fish" phenomenon has now spread to Asia as a kind of natural exfoliant. The fish are increasingly popular in China, and last year Japan's Yunessun hot-spring resort, in the city of Hakone, became the first in the nation to set up its own doctor-fish bath (although the fish aren't mentioned on the resort's English-language site).


The Yunessun site even has a movie of a group of young bathers experiencing doctor fish for the first time.



Ah, there's nothing quite like having a school of fish nibble away at one's dead skin.



"Cleaning now underway" reads the text in this image from the Yunessun site.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Green tea and colorectal cancer

A study published recently in the journal Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention found that regularly drinking tea is associated with a 37 percent reduction in the risk of colorectal cancer.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Monday, August 13, 2007

Elvis celebrated in Japan

Click here to see a video of Elvis fans in Japan celebrating The King with live music and dancing on the streets of Tokyo.



This statue of Elvis in the Harajuku district of Tokyo was financed partially by former prime minister Junichiro Koizumi.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Japan's population gets smaller and older

With low birth rates and the world's longest life expectancies, Japan's population as a whole is aging at a rapid rate. Not only that, but in 2005, its population began shrinking. What are the future implications of these trends? Read the linked-to article to find out.



If its population keeps shrinking, all of Japan may some day look this desolate.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Japan's dancing robots

To show off their robot technology, a team at Tokyo University programmed one of their robots to dance a traditional Japanese folk dance—accompanied by a human dancer to demonstrate the fidelity of the robot's movements.


Seriously, this robot is so lifelike, it'll make you want to shout out, "Klaatu barada nikto!"





The dancing-robot phenomenon is not new to Japan. Below is a movie from a year or so ago of a quartet of dancing robots courtesy of Sony.





—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Green tea could treat psoriasis and dandruff

Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia say that green tea could hold promise as a new treatment for skin disorders such as psoriasis and dandruff.


"There are no cures for autoimmune diseases [such as psoriasis]," says Dr. Stephen Hsu, the lead scientist in the study. "But it is possible that [green tea] is a non-toxic way to regulate them."



Dr. Hsu, lead scientists of the Medical College of Georgia study.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Servant girls to the gods

Here is a picture of unari (servant girls) in Aso's Onda Matsuri (festival), a thousand-year-old tradition held every year to make offerings to the gods for a bountiful rice harvest. Offerings of food are contained inside the wooden boxes that the unari carry on their heads. The procession begins at the Aso Jinja (Aso shinto shrine) and walks across town to small temporary shrines located in actual rice fields. This nationally famous festival attracts people from all over Japan.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Clock store

This store, the Miyagawa Tokei-ten (or Miyagawa Clock Shop), has been in town for two generations. The Miyagawas recently renovated the store. The exterior is very chic, no? (Click on the picture above to view a larger version.)


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Tour guide

This tour guide was leading a group of tourists through Aso Shrine.



—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Kids catching dragonflies

Here are two kids catching dragonflies (which they keep as pets) in front of Aso Shrine, in Aso City, Japan (where Mellow Monk Green Tea is grown).

 



—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Monday, August 06, 2007

In Tokyo, money literally falls from the sky

Some incredibly altruistic (or batty) individual secretly placed a total of 1.8 million yen (over $15,000) in the mailboxes of an apartment building in Tokyo. The bills had been neatly placed in unmarked envelopes, with no note.


Similar incidents have happened elsewhere in Japan's capital. In front of one convenience store, cash literally rained down from the sky.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The green tea princess

In Beijing, China, renowned Chinese classical musician turned restaurateur Zhang Jin Jie—known to fans as JinR—has opened a green-tea-themed restaurant called—what else?— Green T. House.



JinR in her "signature black Issey Miyake dress."


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Friday, August 03, 2007

Deciphering Ichiro's bizarre comments

No, Ichiro's not going crazy. He's just opening up a little—and engaging in obfuscation that is a lot more clever than a lot of folks realize.


Cultural differences are also at work. Athletes in Japan aren't subject to the constant barrage of questions like they are in the States—and the questions they are asked aren't nearly as personal as the questions American reporters ask. (Such as, "How did you feel when you signed that $50 million contract?")


The Japanese tend to be very personal people who are uncomfortable discussing their feelings or personal details of their lives with strangers. So Ichiro's goofy statements may just be a way to avoid talking about something he's not ready to share with the entire world. And it's more polite—at least in Japan—than saying, "I'd rather not talk about that."



At a press conference, Ichiro revealed that his dog Ikky played a role in the slugger's decision to stay in Seattle: "He said, 'Woof, woof, woof,' which meant, 'Stay, stay, stay,' " Suzuki told reporters in Japanese. "Of course, I listened." I am not making this up.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Green tea in cosmetics ... and why freshly brewed tea is better than bottled

At the American Academy of Dermatology's Summer Academy Meeting, dermatologist Zoe D. Draelos, MD, talked about the antioxidant properties of popular "cosmeceutical" ingredients, including green tea:

Dr. Draelos reported that human studies found encouraging results when green tea was applied topically to the skin. In one study, green tea applied topically 30 minutes before UVB exposure resulted in a reduction in sunburn cells by 66 percent -- demonstrating an anti-inflammatory effect -- and decreased UV immunosuppression.

Dr. Draelos also makes an important point about getting the maximum health benefits from drinking green tea:

In order to reap the benefits of green tea's potential antioxidant properties, it needs to be consumed orally immediately after it is prepared.

In other words, bottled green tea usually has much less EGCG and other antioxidants than freshly brewed green tea. Or it may contain some sort of chemical stabilizer. And it probably has a lot of sugar and other unhealthy things in it.


The lesson here, grasshopper, is that it is easy to avoid putting chemical stabilizers, sugar, and other unhealthy substances into your body while also getting as much antioxidants and other good things as you can: Drink freshly brewed loose-leaf green tea.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wish cards

On the grounds of Aso Shrine, in Aso City, Japan, are these frames for holding wooden "wish cards." People buy blank cards at the shrine, then write a personal message on it and hang it on the frame. The most common wishes are for the health of a newborn child or success at an upcoming high-school entrance exam.

—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)

Another view of Aso Shrine's gate

Here's another view—from outside the temple grounds—of the romon, or two-tiered gate, of Aso Shrine.


—Mellow Monk


Go to the Mellow Monk tea page
Bookmark this blog
Subscribe to the blog feed (RSS)