By Hana Medina
FOR CENTURIES, GREEN teas have been
enjoyed by people all over the world. Once
used for medicinal purposes in Asian cultures, green tea and its varieties have been
celebrated globally for their health benefits
and vibrant flavors.
Kirkland Signature TM Green Tea is an
authentic Japanese product made in partnership with Ito En, the number-one green
tea producer in the world. “When you go
to Japan, Ito En is a household name. Ito
En equals green tea in Japan,” says Rona
Tison, Ito En’s senior vice president of corporate relations.
Ito En was established in Japan in 1966
and quickly built a reputation for high-quality
loose-leaf teas and ready-to-drink beverages.
Popular U.S. Ito En labels include TEAS’ TEA
and Oi Ocha.
With the company’s stellar track record,
it’s no wonder that Costco buyers sought Ito
En as a partner for a co-branded Kirkland
Signature product. In 2006, members were
introduced to Kirkland Signature Green Tea,
a blend of sencha and matcha green teas.
Sencha, a popular variety of Japanese
green tea, is made of high-quality, dried, whole
loose-leaf teas. Traditionally used for Japanese
tea ceremonies, matcha is a premium stone-ground powdered tea, considered one of the
best green teas on the market. Before grinding
matcha, the stems and veins are removed to
achieve the tea leaf’s full potency.
True to traditional Japanese green tea
standards, the dried tea leaves of Kirkland
Signature Green Tea are gently steamed
(Chinese green teas, on the other hand, are
pan-fried). The steaming process allows the
tea to preserve its freshness, aroma and natu-
ral health properties. In addition to many vita-
mins and minerals, green tea contains the
antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, which
may alleviate heart disease, assist in fight-
ing cancer, lower cholesterol, burn fat and
prevent diabetes, stroke and even demen-
tia, according to medical studies. The
amino acid L-theanine, a constituent of green
tea, has also been celebrated for its mood-
An amino acid found in green tea, glutamate, creates what is known in the culinary
world as umami, or “pleasant taste” in
Japanese. Umami is considered the fifth taste
sensation (the others are sweet, salty, sour
and bitter). Tison says that many chefs are
using matcha to put umami in sweet and
Creating delicious products is just a
fraction of Ito En’s mission. The company
prides itself on its quality-assurance protocols. The company monitors its products
from the soil conditions (its tea is grown in
southwestern Japan and Australia) all the
way to the store shelf.
The company’s tea development program
in Japan fosters sustainable land-management
practices and encourages younger generations to pursue farming in order to pass along
the craft. Ito En furthers its green efforts
through an innovative recycling program,
which reuses tea leaves from the production
of its ready-to-drink products. The leaves are
turned into fertilizer and also a resin used for
making park benches, tatami mats and even
Whether you’re sitting on a bench made
of recycled leaves or enjoying the umami in
your cup, there are a variety of reasons to
enjoy green tea. Ito En and Costco continuously work together to bring members a top-notch product, no matter the season. C
DIFFERENT FLAVOR PROFILES emerge
when green tea is steeped in different
water temperatures. Cooler temperatures create a lighter, sweeter taste,
while hot temperatures bring out more
Japanese green tea leaves emit more
tannin when they come into contact with
boiling water, which can make the tea
taste slightly bitter. Allow the water to cool
before steeping your tea bags. The recommended steeping temperature is 176 F. “If
you can hold the cup, we say the temperature’s just right,” says Rona Tison, senior
vice president at Ito En.
Once your hot tea has steeped,
empty the remaining matcha powder in
the tea bag envelope into your teacup.
The matcha adds flavor and a concentrated boost of health benefits.
For those who like sweetener, green
tea pairs well with honey or agave.
Green tea can be brewed cold. Add
one tea bag for every 8 ounces of cold
water. Steep for two to three minutes.
Remove the bag and enjoy.
Green tea can be brewed as a sun
tea. Place the tea bags in a clear container
with spring water. Set the container
outside in the sunlight. Once it reaches
the desired flavor, remove the tea bags
Brewed hot, green tea leaves release
caffeine equal to one-third of coffee’s
caffeine content. Cold preparation reduces
the amount of caffeine released from the
Kirkland Signature Green Tea is available
in all Costco warehouses. Green tea drink
recipes can be found in back issues of the
Search “Ito En”
made in heaven:
RECIPE ABOVE FROM SIMPLY
DELICIOUS THE COSTCO WAY,
2012, PAGE 46.
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ing cancer, lower cholesterol, burn fat and