O-Mythelated EGCG found in The Benifuuki Cultivar and its health benefits

You may know about EGCG, a powerful antioxidant and a substance that benefits several health conditions such as Dementia, Hepatitis, Cancer, Obesity, and more.

There's a substance called O-Methylated EGCG, which you may be less familiar with. It's found in only specific cultivars and has different health benefits to the EGCG.

Let's dive into what O-Methylated EGCG is, how it can help your health, and how you can find it.

This article was last modified December 15th, 2022. by Yuki

Introduction to O-Methylated EGCG

O-Methylated EGCG is also a type of green tea catechin, just like EGCG, but is an altered form with an additional methyl group attached to the substance. It is expressed as EGCG3"Me.

This alteration changes the EGCG and introduces different health benefits.

Not all Japanese green tea contain high levels of O-Methylated EGCG. For example, Japan's most dominant Yabukita cultivar does not have an impactful amount of O-Methylated EGCG.

There is a specific type of cultivar, the "Benifuuki," which contains the highest levels of this substance. Let's learn more about this cultivar.

The Benifuki Cultivar

The Benifuki is a varietal of the tea plant Camellia Sinensis.

If you taste green tea made from Benifuki, you may notice the taste to be quite different than other Japanese green tea.

This difference is because the Benifuuki cultivar's roots are very different from other Japanese green tea cultivars.

There are primarily two varieties of tea plants. There is the Chinese variety, which is mainly used in Japanese green tea. Most green tea in Japan uses varietals stemming from the Chinese seed.

The tea plants of the Chinese varietal look more like shrubs.

The other is the Assam variety. This type is a relatively rare variety grown in Japan. It is more suited for oxidized tea, such as black tea and oolong tea. It is generally not used for green tea.

The tea plant looks very different from its Chinese counterparts as they grow tall and look more like trees.

While they both contain similar nutrients with high health benefits, their quantities tend to differ.

The Benifuki cultivar is a crossbreed between the Benihomari cultivar, made for Black Tea as the seed parent, and the "枕Cd86," which is a Darjeeling type with a great aroma. [1]

It was created way back in 1965 under what currently is NARO or the National Agriculture and Food Research Organization of Japan. However, it was only registered as the Benifuki cultivar in 1993 as a cultivar for oolong and black tea.

After registration, it did not gain support and wasn't actively cultivated. Therefore it was referred to by some people as phantom tea due to its rarity.

Things changed when the high levels of Methylated Catechins in the Benifuuki cultivar were discovered in 1999. Since then, it has gradually spread to tea farms, especially in Kagoshima.

What are the health benefits of O-methylated EGCG?

Reducing Allergic Symptoms

The O-methylated EGCG helps reduce allergic symptoms.

In a study, patients received Benifuki green tea containing 34mg of Methylated Catechins for 12 weeks. They demonstrated a reduction in perennial allergic rhinitis symptoms.

Similar results were seen for seasonal pollen allergy in Japan as well. Drinking 1.5g of Benifuuki 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]

Seasonal pollen allergy is a huge issue in Japan. Since the discovery of the O-methylated EGCG's effectiveness in allergies, the "Benifuuki" green tea has become a product of high demand.

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

Reducing High-Blood Pressure

Another area where the O-Methylated EGCG in the Benifuki cultivar is effective is for high blood pressure or hypertension.

While EGCG effectively reduces high blood pressure, the Benifuuki is even more effective in helping reduce high blood pressure.

This is because the O-methylated EGCG shows strong effectiveness in inhibiting ACE. ACE is an enzyme that creates a substance that causes high blood pressure. By inhibiting ACE, the O-methylated EGCG helps contain the number of substances that cause high blood pressure.

While EGCG is also effective, the O-Methylated EGCG shows 5-6 times the absorption rate of the nutrients.

If you want to drink Japanese Green Tea to fight hypertension, looking for Benifuuki would be a good option if you can find it.

Also Read: Hypertension, or High Blood Pressure and Japanese Green Tea

Preventing Diet-Induced Lipid Metabolism Disorder

In another study, the O-Methylated EGCG demonstrated high effectiveness in preventing Lipid Metabolism Disorder. [3] "These results suggested that Benifuuki had much greater lipid-lowering effects than Yabukita."

This is because EGCG and O-Methylated EGCG both reduce lipid creation. The effectiveness between these two is similar. However, the O-Methylated EGCG remains in the bloodstream for 3.2 times longer than normal EGCG. [4] Therefore the overall effectiveness of the O-Methylated EGCG in reducing lipid creation is 1.7 times that of EGCG.

See Also: How green tea can help fight obesity

Looking for tea with the most O-Methylated EGCG

Only a few types of Japanese green tea contain O-Methylated EGCG. If you are considering O-Methylated EGCG, you should look for the Benifuuki cultivar introduced above.

Some other cultivars, such as Benifuji or Benihomare, contain some O-Methylated EGCG as well. However, not only are they relatively rare to come by, but they also have fewer amounts of O-Methylated EGCG.

When you look for the Benifuuki, make sure you look for green tea rather than black or oolong tea.

Although the Benifuuki cultivar was initially made to make good black or oolong tea, its oxidation process reduces the amount of O-Methylated EGCG contained in the tea.

Look for the green tea type of Benifuuki to maximize O-Methylated EGCG.

Preparing Benifuuki to extract the most O-Methylated EGCG

O-Methylated EGCG is a relatively difficult nutrient to dissolve in water. The best way is to extract using boiling water.

We recommend brewing the tea under a boiling pan on low heat for roughly 5 minutes to maximize the effect. This method, however, will add to the astringency of the tea.


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] https://www.naro.go.jp/publicity_report/press/files/vegetea051209-1-7.pdf

[2] 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.

[3] Suzuki, T., Kumazoe, M., Kim, Y. et al. Green Tea Extract Containing a Highly Absorbent Catechin Prevents Diet-Induced Lipid Metabolism Disorder. Sci Rep 3, 2749 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1038/srep02749

[4] https://doi.org/10.3136/nskkk.56.412