A Reminder: Green Tea Is Good for You
Interview With Silvia Mella of Sorate
Courtesy of Sorate
Drinking green tea can be a daily mindfulness ritual. And it’s packed with health benefits.
Silvia Mella, Italian-born founder of Sorate, spent years researching and learning about everything green tea following a trip to Japan that impassioned her for this traditional Japanese beverage.
In Japan, she drank green tea daily. Upon returning home to New York she found that the tea available in stores didn’t satisfy her now-refined taste for the traditional and age-old green tea practices she experienced in Japan.
“One day I walked inside of the store here in Soho to buy some tea and I started noticing what I did not like about the store, what I thought that they were doing wrong compared with what I saw in Japan.”
And so, Mella figured, if she couldn’t buy what she wanted she would have to make it. She took several trips to Japan to learn the ins and outs of green tea.
“Most people know green tea is beneficial, but they don’t actually know how much it’s good for you,” Mella explains. “Green tea was invented as a medicine and was brought from China to Japan as a medicine.” It’s good for many things, “for boosting your immune system, for your cavities in your teeth, diabetes, and weight loss.”
Green Tea Catechins
It’s the catechins within green tea that make it so good for you. She explains that catechins are said to prevent the damage of cells, “especially from free radicals. So what that means is, it’s actually constantly renovating your body.”
It’s not a coincidence that many Japanese people tend to have very long lifespans, Mella explains since green tea is said to keep you young. “One of the most famous green teas is sencha,” she says, “which was invented where I source the tea in Japan. The inventor was Nagatani Soen, and in 1850 he died at the age of 97.”
What Are Catechins?
Catechin, also known as tannin, is an agent produced by green tea leaves for protection from the damaging rays of the sun. The more sunlight the leaves are exposed to, the greater level of catechins. Sencha, for example, is grown in direct sunlight, which makes for a green tea packed with tannins. Catechins are antioxidative and have antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties, among other healthful qualities that promote bodily wellness.
What Makes a Great Cup of Green Tea?
When Mella started her company, she had to consider every aspect of production and how it would factor into the quality of her tea. This includes opting to go looseleaf, rather than bagged. When she initially asked her distributors about selling her the tea in bags, they refused.
“It’s not in their DNA,” she explains. Teabags “release chemicals in the water. That's just a fact. And not just because of that. It's also the loose leaves, the leaves are supposed to roll freely in the water, to release all the taste. So once you see the green tea leaves all rolled up and when you put them in the water they just open up. The tea has to have space to do that.”
Mella also stresses the importance of brewing your tea in the right way. “To make a perfect cup of tea just requires three things. The good tea. Then the temperature of the water should be perfect in order to really get the most flavor out of the leaf. And time. You have to steep it for the perfect time because if you leave it longer, it doesn't taste as good—it can ruin the taste.”
Drinking Green Tea Is a Mindfulness Ritual
Making and drinking green tea can be a mindfulness break, a small ritual in your day. Mella describes the Japanese approach: “They use the five senses: The hearing, the bottle, the water boiling. … They are focused on the process of not just the drinking, but also making it. Then they touch the leaves to see how they feel in their hands, then they drop the leaves in the water and they look at how the leaves unroll themselves, kind of like dancing in the water. They smell the tea and then they drink it, and they taste it finally.”
Mella recommends everyone take part in this daily mindful experience with green tea. “It's a really short break that everybody I think can take up. … It's nice to have to experience it properly. Maybe what I'm saying doesn't make sense. But you see when you try it, it makes more sense.”