Japanese Green Tea and Reducing Symptoms of Allergies such as Hay Fever

Although it may come as a surprise, Japanese green tea is emerging as an effective way to reduce allergic symptoms in Japan.

Several studies show that drinking Japanese Green tea is an excellent way to reduce the symptoms of Allergic Rhinitis or Hay Fever.

Research has shown that especially green tea from the "Benifuki" cultivar has powerful anti-allergy effects.

Let's jump into this.

This article was last modified December 11th, 2022. by Yuki

The Methylated Catechins Effective in Reducing the Symptoms

The substances known as Methylated Catechins, which are one of the active substances in Japanese green tea, have effectiveness in reducing allergic symptoms. [1]

Methylated Catechins are Green Tea Catechins such as EGCG and EGC that are slightly altered with an additional methyl group attached to the compound. They are expressed as EGCG3"Me and ECG3"Me.

This modification of the Catechins has shown effectiveness in containing allergic symptoms and a 4-5 times higher ability to be absorbed by the body.

High amounts of this nutrient are found in the "Benifuki" cultivar of the tea plant. This cultivar is rare, and few "Benifuki" green tea options can be found, especially outside Japan.

See also: All about O-Methylated EGCG and its health benefits

The Effectiveness of Methylated Catechins in Human-Based Studies

Several human-based studies show the effectiveness of Benifuki in reducing the symptoms of allergies.

In an experiment, scientists gave Benifuki green tea containing 34mg of Methylated Catechins per day to patients for 12 weeks. The cohort group given this treatment showed a reduction in perennial allergic rhinitis symptoms.

Symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and tears have reduced compared to cohort groups drinking green tea of the Yabukita cultivar, which only carries a low amount of Methylated EGCG.

Similar results were seen for seasonal pollen allergy in Japan as well.

The symptoms of Japanese cedar pollinosis, a seasonal allergic rhinitis caused by Japanese cedar pollen, were reduced when given Benifuki green tea.

Drinking 1.5g of Benifuki tea twice a day for 13 weeks decreased the nasal symptoms and eye symptoms seen in the patients. The researchers also discovered that adding 30 mg of ginger extract to the drink can enhance its effectiveness. [4]

How Does Benifuki Help Reduce Allergic Symptoms?

Firstly, let's understand how allergic reactions in the body are triggered.

The mast cells are white blood cells within your body and are considered a part of your immune system.

An allergic reaction is when your body's immune system overreacts to substances that do not cause harm to your body. When this occurs, mast cells release Histamine, which causes many symptoms of allergies, such as runny nose or sneezing.

The Methylated Catechins reduce the allergic reactions triggered by the Mast Cells.

Methylated Catechins have multiple mechanisms to reduce this. It reduces the Mast Cells receptors from finding the allergen in the first place by attaching to the cells.

It also reduces the Histamine emission from the cell.

Looking for the Benifuki Cultivar Japanese Green Tea

If you are looking for ways to relieve your allergic symptoms, finding green tea from the Benifuki cultivar is vital. Not all cultivars carry enough Methylated Catechins to be effective in reducing symptoms.

For example, the most common Yabukita cultivar contains only a tiny amount.

It is also important to note that it must be Green tea rather than Black tea or Oolong tea. This makes it even more challenging to find the proper tea.

Benifuki cultivar is a cultivar more suited for black tea. It's relatively rare in Japan because it comes from the Assam variety of the tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) instead of the Chinese variety. The Chinese type is the dominant variety in Japan and most Japanese Green tea.

Benifuki was created in Japan to make Black tea and Oolong tea rather than Green tea. That's why Benifuki is less common than Green tea.

However, the oxidation process required to make Black and Oolong tea reduces the levels of Methylated Catechin. Even if you find the Benifuki cultivar, it won't be effective in containing allergic symptoms if it is a black tea.

Preparing Benifuki Green Tea to Maximize Methylated Catechins

Once you have found the Benifuki Green tea, the preparation is also essential.

Catechins are substances that are relatively difficult to dissolve in water. To do so effectively, you must use boiling water.

The best way to extract the Methylated Catechins from the Benifuki loose leaf is to brew the leaves in a pan under low heat for 5 to 10 minutes.

While this will increase the astringency of the tea, it will maximize the effectiveness the drink has on your allergic symptoms.

Author Yuki


Yuki is the Editor-in-Chief AND Community Manager at Tealife. He bleeds Japanese Tea and loves being a part of the Japanese Tea journey of others. Writes, does events, conducts tasting sessions, drinks, drinks and drinks tea! Easily accessible - hit him up on whatsapp (+65) 85882980.


[1] Maeda-Yamamoto, M. and Tachibana, H. (2012) "Anti-allergic action of O-methylated EGCG in green tea cultivar Benifuuki," Journal of Food and Drug Analysis: Vol. 20 : Iss. 1 , Article 50. Available at: https://doi.org/10.38212/2224-6614.2116

[2] Sawako Masuda, Mari Maeda-Yamamoto, Satoko Usui, Takao Fujisawa, 'Benifuuki' Green Tea Containing O-Methylated Catechin Reduces Symptoms of Japanese Cedar Pollinosis: A Randomized, Double- Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial, Allergology International, Volume 63, Issue 2,2014, Pages 211-217, ISSN 1323-8930,https://doi.org/10.2332/allergolint.13-OA-0620.

[3] 安江正明, et al., 日本食品新素材研究し誌, 8, 65-80 (2005)

[4] Maeda-Yamamoto M, Ema K, Shibuichi I. In vitro and in vivo anti-allergic effects of 'benifuuki' green tea containing O-methylated catechin and ginger extract enhancement. Cytotechnology. 2007 Dec;55(2-3):135-42. doi: 10.1007/s10616-007-9112-1. Epub 2007 Nov 25. PMID: 19003003; PMCID: PMC2104550.

[5] https://www.asahiinryo.co.jp/rd/note/benifuuki_03.html