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Japan's green tea brewing new fans

From Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN Tokyo Bureau Chief

Japan's tea ceremony has been practiced with precision the same way for centuries.
Japan's tea ceremony has been practiced with precision the same way for centuries.

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Green tea, a staple of Japanese culture for centuries, is finding new fans. CNN's Rebecca MacKinnon reports.
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TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Green tea, one of the culinary foundations of traditional Japanese culture is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

Young and old, citizens of the island nation are having a whole new look on the time-honored traditional drink.

"We always steam the tea leaf at the beginning. That's why the tea leaf keeps its green color and it's rich in vitamin C," says a licensed tea expert, Hatsumi Kimura.

Kimura owns a boutique teashop in Tokyo, and the business is booming, thanks to widespread reports in the Japanese media about the high concentration in green tea of a substance called catechins.

"Catechins are believed to fight against bacteria and viruses," she says. "When you go to sushi bar, after the meal they serve Japanese green tea. And that keeps you away from food poisoning."

In fact, science is reinforcing age-old Japanese habits.

Researchers have found substances in green tea like antioxidants and polyphenols that have been proven helpful in preventing cancer and heart disease.

One of the customers at Kimura's teashop, Yukiko Konno told CNN she has always gargled with green tea if she has a sore throat or feels like she's coming down with the flu.

And the scientific evidence is helping to bring a new generation back to the centuries-old drink.

For the trendy young set, that means having your lattes with green tea instead of espresso.

A new café called Koots, which looks like a coffee house, brews fresh green tea in special pots.

The shop manager Masaki Nakazawa says his company is expanding its chain of stores as the green tea boom continues.

Whether you like your cuppa with frothy milk and syrup on top or made painstakingly in an elaborate ritual practiced with precision the same way for centuries, the Japanese have more reason than ever to keep on drinking green tea.

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