Tag Archives: bamboo leaves

Takesumi – bamboo charcoal

takesumi, bamboo charcoalContinuing with the Japan focus from the previous post, this post revisits bamboo charcoal with a particular focus on health. Takesumi is derived from carbonised bamboo and demonstrates the same remarkable adsorptive qualities. As a nutritional supplement takesumi is generally ingested for its detoxification properties, especially after exposure to environmental contaminates.

Claims are made that bamboo charcoal:

  • has anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties;
  • emits far infrared rays (to improve circulation) and negative ions;
  • protects the body from EMF’s emitted by the electrical devices we surround ourselves with;
  • is a natural source of macro and trace minerals;
  • is alkalizing; and,
  • adsorbs myco and endotoxins, and radiation.

takesumi, bamboo charcoalThe adsorptive qualities of takesumi that provide the detox benefits are also exploited for extending the life of fresh produce and purifying drinking water. Healthy living blog, Japanese Wall also suggests that takesumi can “make wine more fragrant whilst removing its tartness, and also make tea tastier by reducing the acidity.”

takesumi, bamboo charcoalTakesumi-Power Bali recommends that her followers put some pieces of takesami in the water when cooking rice. “It will absorb chlorine, bad odor and toxic substances from water [and] the taste of the rice will be something you have never experienced before.” If the image is true, it won’t make your rice black. If you don’t find that appealing, there’s always takesumi candy, takesumi coffee, tea, or takesumi crackers (if you’re in Japan and can read Kanji).

takesumi, bamboo charcoal, kiln

The charcoal kiln at I’m Home B&B

Researching takesumi online also unearthed a rather idyllic looking B&B in New Zealand that makes takesumi. The Kyoto-expat owners describe takesumi as “mysterious bamboo charcoal.” The B&B property has its own charcoal kiln and they produce a very interesting-looking range of takesumi products, including powdered bamboo charcoal and bamboo leaf charcoal. Another use for bamboo charcoal that they suggest is as a dietary supplement for animals.

An Amazon search for takesumi yielded mostly fountain pen ink, and it’s not even clear if the black is from bamboo charcoal. Do you have a friend in Japan?

References and further reading:

Bamboo Plant Opal

Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker. The very name requires a second look. It certainly had me wondering what plant opal is, what it has to do with bamboo, and why it might be used to make speakers.

bamboo plant opalPlant opal, or phytoliths, are microscopic siliceous bodies which occur in living plants. When plants die and subsequently decompose, the phytolith is released into soils and sediments. Because phytoliths are highly resistant to decomposition, they survive in sediments and soils long after the plants have vanished. This characteristic makes them useful for scientific research in botany, agriculture and archaeology. Now we can add manufacture of loudspeakers to the list.

Panasonic was already making speakers with diaphragms made from resin mixed with bamboo fibres and bamboo charcoal. Their new loudspeakers also incorporate plant opal from bamboo leaves. The claims from Panasonic’s website maintain that the plant opal loudspeaker is able to reproduce clear sound with low distortion thanks to the hardness of the plant opal material that occurs naturally in bamboo.

bamboo plant opal, phytoliths

Phytoliths under the microscope. Each phytolith is only tens of micrometers long.

Plant opal is certainly hard and robust. Phytoliths are made of inorganic silica or calcium oxalate and survive in conditions that would destroy organic residues. Different plants produce distinguishable phytoliths with different shapes and relative content percentages, as do different species within the same family or subfamily. This is particularly so in the grasses family to which bamboo belongs. Within the sub-family of Bambusoideae, we find that there are several types of phytoliths in bamboos including fan-shape, long-saddle, tower-shape, sinuate elongate, smooth elongate, silica stoma, silica hair and hair tip. Who would have thought?

You can see 3,669 more images of phytoliths in the PhytCore phytolith database online. Clearly, someone cares. And aren’t we lucky they do?

Have you heard sound from the Bamboo Plant Opal Loudspeaker? Is it as good as they make out?

eBay au has books about phytoliths.


  • Hart, D. M. (1988). The plant opal content in the vegetation and sediment of a swamp at Oxford Falls, New South Wales, Australia. Australian Journal of Botany, 36(2), 159-170.
  • Huang, Z. T., Li, Y. F., Jiang, P. K., Chang, S. X., Song, Z. L., Liu, J., & Zhou, G. M. (2014). Long-term intensive management increased carbon occluded in phytolith (PhytOC) in bamboo forest soils. Scientific reports, 4.
  • Li, Q., Xu, D. K., & Lu, H. Y. (2005). Morphology of phytolith in Bambusoideae (Gramineae) and its ecological significance. Quaternary Sciences, 25, 777-784.
  • Panasonic
  • Wikipedia

Bamboo leaf tea – part 3

bamboo leaf teaExperimentation with bamboo leaf tea continues. I’ve been drinking a cup or more of bamboo leaf tea most days for past 3 months with a view to observing any noticeable health benefits. Most importantly though, I really like the flavour of the tea.

Bamboo Leaf Tea – part 1 enumerated some of the benefits I could expect. I’ve just reread them. Some beneficial changes I might have been able to observe (and any change) include :

  • skin elasticity (same)
  • teeth and gums (same)
  • connective tissue and musculoskeletal system (no improvement in weights-induced shoulder injury)
  • hair (maybe)
  • nails (no change)
  • diuretic (possibly)

Despite my research efforts, I was unable to locate any definitive research on the bio-availability of nutrients in bamboo leaf tea. In the course of the research however, I did come across another tea called bamboo leaf tea. 

The ‘other’ Bamboo Leaf Tea
bamboo leaf tea

Emei Shan

Also known as Zhu Ye Qing, this is a green tea first grown and produced by a monk near the top of Emei Shan, a famous Buddhist mountain in Sichuan province, China. It is called Green Bamboo Leaf because of its bamboo leaf shape not because it is actually made with bamboo leaves. You can read more about Zhu Ye Qing here. The tea undergoes seven processes before it’s ready to drink. It’s quite expensive. 

How to make bamboo leaf tea: The Life with Bamboo hybrid method

In Bamboo Leaf Tea – part 2, I shared some different ways the tea is made in Japan. Not having the same kinds of equipment, I developed a similar method using what I have in the kitchen here.

  • Young green leaves are picked and cut into small pieces with scissors
  • The cut-up leaves are tossed around in a wok and toasted until the aroma changes from green grass to toasted rice and the leaves are just starting to brown.
  • A saucepan of water is bought to the boil and toasted leaves are added. Slow boil the leaves for a few minutes.
  • Its ready to drink now. I put my cooked tea in a coffee plunger (I don’t have a teapot) and drink the tea throughout the day.
bamboo leaf tea

Left to right: Green leaves, toasted leaves, cooked leaves, plunger

If this is all too much bother, or you just don’t have access to fresh young bamboo leaves, search online for a range of bamboo leaf teas.

Bamboo leaf tea – part 2

A friend and fellow blogger in Japan was kind enough to send me links to some Japanese blog posts about bamboo leaf tea. (Thanks, Megumi!). So, following on from Bamboo leaf tea -part 1, here is some how-to (with the aid of Google Translate) for making your own bamboo leaf tea at home.

The instructions in the blogs are similar and use Kumazasa, a bamboo that grows in Hokkaido. In fact, Kumazasa is something of a Hokkaido speciality and is sold as tea (loose leaf, tea bag, and canned drink), granulated extract and candy. Bears are also very fond of Kumazasa bamboo.

Kumazasa bamboo

Kumazasa bamboo

Continue reading

Bamboo leaf tea – part 1

bamboo leaf teaHave you heard of bamboo leaf tea? The proponents of bamboo leaf tea make it sound marvellous, of course. The main health benefits proclaimed are those associated with the intake of silica.

Bamboo Leaf Tea lists some of the benefits;

  • improves skin elasticity
  • benefits teeth and gums
  • improves connective tissue and strengthens musculoskeletal system
  • plays a role in helping the body to eliminate aluminium
  • strengthens hair and nails and encourages new growth
  • thought to improve cardiovascular system
  • may help to reduce high blood pressure
  • essential for bone growth

I consulted Michael Tierra’s book, The Way of Chinese Herbs (1998) to see what he had to say. Bamboo leaf is listed under ‘herbs that clear heat and purge fire’. The properties of the bamboo leaf are listed as anti-inflammatory, antipyretic (reduce or prevent a fever), and diuretic (promote passing of urine). “Indications: This herb is used for heat conditions associated with irritability and anxiety. It can also be used for swollen, painful gums and urinary tract infections with signs of irritability” (p. 171). All this said, he makes no clear suggestion as to how to ingest the bamboo leaves as a medicinal herb.

bambooleafteaThis morning I went out and picked some low-hanging bamboo leaves. Following some ideas I found online, I roasted them in the bottom of the oven for short time and made a tea. The liquid was rather colourless, but the flavour was fresh, slightly sweet and subtle. Rather delightful really.

I made another cup of tea with fresh, raw leaves. The flavour was quite different – more like grass, but in nice way. Still, the lightly roasted leaves win the flavour stakes.

And the effects? I don’t know yet. I’ll continue to make and drink bamboo leaf tea and tell you another time. Do you have experience with bamboo leaf tea? Please leave a comment.