Culinary Spotlight

Mellow Monk Green Tea: Paul Kotta

Paul Kotta is a co-founder of MellowMonk.com, an eco-friendly purveyor of natural green tea. The company imports their tea directly from family-owned and -operated tea farms in the Aso region of Japan. The region is located in the center of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan’s four main islands, and is known for its natural bounty and for farmers who stubbornly stick to the old way of doing things. Paul took a few moments with Urban Epicurean to tell us more about the culinary benefits of green tea.

UE: What are some benefits of green tea?
Kotta: There are so many! Research has shown green tea to be helpful against cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol levels, cariovascular disease, infection, and impaired immune function, just to name a few. EGCG, an antioxidant found only in green tea, has recently been shown to inhibit the growth of breast cancer cells. You can read more about the health benefits of green tea here.

UE: Do eco-friendly farming practices have an impact on the taste of the harvested tea?
Kotta: Most definitely! For instance, letting the tea plants grow naturally (instead of speeding growth with fertilizer and whatnot) lets all of the natural flavor-enhancing compounds develop to their fullest. Our growers water their tea groves with only rainwater from the sky, which avoids “diluting” the tea leaves in the same way we’ve all experienced firsthand in hydroponically grown grapes. Also, at harvest time, our growers harvest only what they can process right away. This stops oxidation and fermentation, locking in the flavor (and all the healthy antioxidants). On huge corporate farms, harvested tea sits around fermenting in huge piles before being processed.

UE: What are some other culinary uses for green tea?
Kotta: We’ve got quite a few recipes on our blog. Or you might also try this salmon recipe from the Seattle Times:

Pan-Seared Salmon with Green Tea Rice
2 T wasabi paste
2 T soy sauce
1 T rice vinegar
2 4-ounce portions salmon
1/2 C sushi rice
1 C water
1 1/2 T loose-leaf green tea
salt and pepper

To prepare salmon, combine wasabi, soy sauce and rice vinegar into a paste. Spread on salmon. Heat a skillet over mezdium-high heat and place the fish, paste side down, in the pan. Sear for two to three minutes, then flip and cook another two or three minutes, depending on desired level of doneness.

To prepare rice, bring water, rice and tea leaves to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Season.

For more information about Mellow Monk Green Tea, be sure to visit their website.

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