Tea companies send me tea and tea accessories for review, but for the first time I was invited to an online tea ‘experience’. Arigato Japan is a company that does food and culture tours in Japan. Considering the limitations that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on live events and travel, Arigato has pivoted to create online experiences that bridge the gap for those looking for insight into Japanese culture. They contacted me about their green tea experience. So I joined them via the ubiquitous Zoom, which has been so helpful in connecting us during these crazy times (I’m not sponsored by Zoom, by the way, but I’d welcome it).
At 8pm Japan time (which got this musician out of bed waaay too early my time, lol) I joined an international group of tea enthusiasts for a little over an hour of tea immersion. The event was hosted by Lauren Shannon, an American who has been living in Japan for over 20 years. The usual group is roughly 6-8 but we had about a dozen on the call from all over including Australia, Britain, Japan, Singapore, Columbia and the US.
Lauren had one screen showing her as she spoke and another screen of her tea table. Part way through her presentation she invites attendees to make tea along with her.
If you are a tea fan you might know some of what is shared in the experience. With all of the classes and self study I’ve done I still walked away with new bits of info. However, I’m not going to detail what is covered in this event, so that when you take it you can more fully enjoy it. No spoilers. Spoilers are rude.
Aside from the information there are other benefits of this kind of online experience. There are opportunities to contribute to the conversation during the event and there is a Q and A. Also the energy of sharing an experience with fellow tea lovers from across the globe is a unique energy boost during this time of limited contact.
You can find out about the Arigato Japan Green Tea experience and other online offerings at arigatojapan.co.jp. Tell them Tea Deviant sent you.
Disclosure: Though Arigato invited me to their experience I am not an affiliate for them. Not that I am against being an affiliate. I am for other companies. And not that you would be against me being an affiliate. I don't think you have anything against me actually making money and there being financial value to what I do. I think you would support me in that or you wouldn't be here. I'm just trying to make sure you know what's up.
My intent is for Tea Deviant to be a positive place to inspire curiosity and have fun while exploring, but I can’t ignore the proverbial elephant in the room. Considering COVID-19 still has a daily impact on our lives and a study on tea and the virus in vitro has been done I feel it’s worth sharing and hope you do too. I’m not interested in fake news. This is not about a definitive cure. It's about studies that show the potential for compounds found in tea to be helpful against the virus and staying informed.
In November 2020 Nara University in Japan conducted a study on the effect of catechins in black and green teas on COVID-19 in vitro. Various teas were used with the most effective being black tea brewed from tea leaves. The study showed that when that black tea was introduced to coronaviruses it reduced their ability to infect by 99% after one minute and 99.9% after 10 minutes.
I first saw news of this study on the Japanese Greentea Co website. I did some further searches, but could not find an abstract though I did find other articles:
“Nara University study finds some common teas can neutralize COVID-19”
“Detoxify the New Corona with Tea…”
Human beings are more complex than a petri dish in a controlled environment for sure. Still, this study combined with others on tea and COVID-19 along with tea and other illnesses have me thinking there is something to this idea.
Other Tea and COVID-19 Studies
Before the Japan study, in July 2020 the National Institute of Health released info on studies that focused on 2 tea polyphenols: EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate) derived from green tea and theaflavins from black tea. In short, they found both to be worth studying more as they are bioactive with the ability to support physical health in multiple ways . Here is an excerpt :
“Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is one of the most abundant polyphenolic catechin found in Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze (tea plant), especially in green tea. EGCG has been tested for its antiviral activity against several viruses and found to be a potential treatment option over synthetic chemical drugs. It is recognized as a multi-functional bioactive molecule exhibiting antitumorigenic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidative, and antiproliferative properties in addition to its antiviral effects (Chacko et al., 2010). Theaflavins (TFs) are another class of polyphenols found in abundance in black tea. The TF derivatives found majorly in black tea are theaflavin (TF1), theaflavin-3-gallate (TF2A), theaflavin-3′-gallate (TF2B), and theaflavin-3,3′-digallate (TF3). All these TFs are being researched for their bioactive properties and are known for their broad-spectrum biological properties, like anti-tumor, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, and anti-bacterial properties. Since EGCG and TFs are of natural sources and consumed regularly by a majority of the population, investigating the anti-viral properties of these polyphenols against COVID-19 could be an advancement in finding a treatment to this latest pandemic.”
EGCG would not appear to be effective taken orally though:
“However, EGCG is unstable and when consumed orally has low bioavailability. It tends to get oxidized quite easily before it reaches the target. Hence, many studies have suggested structural derivatives of EGCG to enhance its bioavailability.”
Tea Fights the Common Cold and the Flu
In previous studies tea catechins have been found effective against other viruses including influenza and the common cold. They showed antiviral capability and immune support. References to studies done since the 90s indicate that drinking green tea with consistency reduces the chance of flu.
I think tea just feels good too, and feeling good has also been linked to higher immunity.
Does the addition of milk affect the benefits of these powerful tea compounds? I found this scientific review from 2015 that covered various studies on the effect of milk (even non-dairy) on the beneficial properties of tea. The studies referenced resulted in wide ranging results thought to be caused by variables like type of tea, brewing method, type of milk and ratio of tea to milk. Even though some studies indicated a positive effect, overall the review stated that milk in tea was more likely to have a masking or negative effect.
This article from Food Chemistry details that though regular sweeteners like sugar had a negative effect on antioxidants in tea, stevia did not. I am not ready to give up my raw honey in my morning tea, but I am happy to have my tea au naturel during the day. How about you?
Whether it’s the taste of your tea, the ritual of it, or the relationships forged over it I hope it brings you joy. We need every ounce of that to come out on the other side of this viral war intact.
Here are some more sources if you want to dig deeper:
"Green Tea" - Mount Sinai
"Research Suggests Black Tea Inhibits COVID-19"
“The sequestered situation of this church seems always to have made it a favorite haunt of troubled spirits. It stands on a knoll, surrounded by locust, trees and lofty elms, from among which its decent, whitewashed walls shine modestly forth, like Christian purity beaming through the shades of retirement.” - "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", Washington Irving
I finally got back to the Hollow this week during daylight to walk the historic grounds of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the The Old Dutch Church, the oldest in the country (estimated at 1685).
A beautiful site with gently rolling hills, loads of foliage, and varying styles of stone work, this place is both a living work of art and of history. Washington Irving, the author of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is buried here. I thought he’d have one of the house-like mausoleums in the cemetery considering how well he was known even in his own time. He was a lawyer, historian and diplomat on top of being a creative writer. Not bad for never going to college and being the 11th child of a sizable family. Not resting in a mausoleum, Irving’s modest tombstone is in his family plot at the cemetery.
“The immediate cause, however, of the prevalence of supernatural stories in these parts, was doubtless owing to the vicinity of Sleepy Hollow. There was a contagion in the very air that blew from that haunted region; it breathed forth an atmosphere of dreams and fancies infecting all the land.”
This is the 200th anniversary of the publication of the tale of the creepy headless ghost that would haunt the dirt roadways of the town at night. The story was published as part of a compilation called The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. in March 1820.
This is such a classic spooky tale that has not only survived as a Halloween staple it has inspired TV shows and multiple movies like Tim Burton’s version in 1999. The town is definitely developed, but historic sites like the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and the Old Dutch Church seem frozen in time. I went on a beautifully overcast day that was not too hot nor too cold, just Goldilocks perfect, and quiet for Halloween season. I even found the Van Tassel plot by pure chance - the family whose daughter Katrina plays such a part in the story.
“It was, as I have said, a fine autumnal day; the sky was clear and serene, and nature wore that rich and golden livery which we always associate with the idea of abundance.”
Tea in America in the Early 19th Century
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