Thursday, July 30, 2009

Green tea is intent on world domination

As we near the end of the first decade of the 21st century, if you are looking for a food item that symbolises the times we live in, look no further. Representing our current obsession with antioxidants and superfoods, as well as the increased influence of East Asian tastes on Western culture, green tea is surely the ingredient of the new century.

Green tea is so ubiquitous that you can now purchase an ointment containing green tea extract which is apparently an excellent treatment for genital warts. Of course, if you can't find this ointment, you can try dunking your junk in a cup of green tea and see what happens - let it cool first, obviously - while musing over the expression "teabag". I'm not actually recommending this, by the way, although if you do it and it works, I will obviously rush to take credit.

Of course throughout Asia, particularly in Japan, folks have been fixated on green tea for centuries. The North Africans got in on the action some time back as well - mixed with fresh mint and sugar, it is drunk daily in Morocco and neighbouring countries. But step back in time 20 years in the West and green tea was merely something you might drink if you went to a Japanese restaurant. That was about it. You could buy it in some supermarkets and Asian groceries, but not many people did. Yet, not unlike Chancellor Palpatine in the Star Wars prequels, green tea has gradually insinuated itself through our consciousness until it now dominates everyday life.

The first sign of things to come was green tea ice cream, which I still think is one of the best ice-cream flavours ever. That was weird in concept, but we got used to it. From then, other foods such as green tea flavoured soba noodles and cakes were not so strange to the palate, and manufacturers started adding matcha (green tea powder) to everything. A green tea chiffon cake I tried from an Asian bakery in Melbourne was magnificent. In Jakarta I had a green tea-glazed donut which was pretty damn good, and who can resist green tea Pocky (below)?

Then sh*t starts to get weirder and weirder. Not only did more and more people gain a taste for green tea, but it began to be known as a buzzword for good health. There are claims that it reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer, and is beneficial for bone density, cognitive function, dental cavities, and kidney stones. Damn, if they announced that it can make peace between the Arabs and Israelis, increase your penis size, deter child molesters and stop your wife from nagging you, I wouldn't be surprised one iota.

So soon you start to find green tea popping up in more and more unlikely places:

Why drink plain green tea when you can have green tea vodka or green tea coke? (Coca-cola I mean, not cocaine, although I'm sure some health-conscious Colombian drug syndicate is busily working on that idea.)
Green tea vodka is perhaps not that surprising - ever tried Chivas Regal mixed with ice and green tea? Quite a pleasant way to get hammered, I must say. And now you can have it mixed with green tea coke. Which is fabulous when you think about it, combining all the health benefits of green tea with all the health-destroying effects of alcohol and coca cola.

But why restrict green tea to purely culinary purposes? With beauty products now containing the fragrance of green tea, you can smell like it too. Which is presumably a good thing, since everyone who smells you will think you are healthy and full of antioxidants.

And of course, why should your nails miss out?

Has this gotten to the point of being ridiculous yet?

A Japanese green tea spa? Yes people, I think we've reached that point.


  1. Wonderful!!! So much to choose from..surely would like to try out the ice-cream.

  2. Never tried it? Easy to find, almost every Japanese restaurant has it, although some are better than others of course.

  3. great blog eurasian. soon they'll be lining up for a teabagging from an environmentalist. sorry that's all i could come up with on a tuesday morning. green tea coke looks interesting.

  4. I must admit, I am totally a green tea fan, whatever shape or form

  5. Japanese Green Tea is the finest the in the world... the color is really GREEN! :) Check for more info:

  6. @Emma Rowel, I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing that website.