SHIZUOKA – A beauty school owner in Shimada, Shizuoka Prefecture, has created a new line of cosmetics made with a green tea extract.
Megumi Ota, who teaches aromatherapy, said the idea to use green tea came from a student who wondered why the aroma wasn’t available.
Ota, who began researching how to extract the aroma from green tea in 2008, has owned her own business for nearly 30 years, all the while helping her husband run a tea farm he inherited.
The fresh green tea extract she came up with is now used in moisturizers and as a perfume compound. She patented her green tea products in January.
Ota said that before she managed to produce the extract, she had bought other products containing the tea aroma. She noticed, however, that most of them contained synthetic perfume, which makes them “smell strange.”
Ota said she first tried to get the extract in the most conventional way, by soaking tea leaves in chemicals.
But this effort failed because the chemicals caused the tea compounds to deteriorate and the leaves to brown, she said.
While struggling to find a way to keep the aroma fresh, she decided to follow up on a tip from her eldest daughter, Natsuki.
Ota said that in 2011, her daughter suggested steaming the leaves, following the method used to dry freshly picked leaves when making green tea. Green tea leaves in Japan are steamed and then dried to prevent oxidation.
This method put her in a forest mist state of mind, she said.
Based on her daughter’s tip and her own findings, Ota managed to produce a highly condensed liquid mixture containing leaf alcohol and other substances.
To make practical use of her invention, Ota ordered a special apparatus designed to collect vapor from tea leaves, Ota said.
Several tea factories in the area now use the machines to produce the extract for commercial use.
In addition to green tea perfume and moisturizer, Ota has introduced the aromatic liquid for use in room humidifiers.
“This invention has helped tea farmers financially,” Ota said. “But I also hope it will help strengthen the brand image of green tea from Shizuoka Prefecture.”