It’s not often that Google helps us celebrate the fascinating of Camellia sinensis and the scientific research, but today almost caught me off guard. One of the early pioneers in tea and health research is Michiyo Tsujimura who, in 1929, first isolated the specific elements in tea that make the most valuable contributions to our health. Two of her most famous papers were published in 1930. But agricultural biochemists continue to build on her original contributions. But she is not only known and revered for her work with tea but also because she was the first woman in Japan with a doctorate in agriculture and published more than thirty scholarly papers on various subjects.
Her initial study established the presence of significant vitamin C in green tea. As this became known in the U.S., consumer interest increased as did sales as it increased understanding of and confidence in the significant health benefits of drinking tea.
September 17, 2021. Google recognizes Michiyo Tsujimura’s 133rd birthday and her accomplishments in tea science.
Digging deeper, Tsujimura gradually found and isolated more of green tea’s chemical composition, including catechin and tannin. She published these findings and more as her doctoral thesis in 1932, making Tsujimura Japan’s first woman doctor of agriculture. Continuing her research, in 1935, she patented a way of extracting crystalized vitamin C from plants. (Kyle Bradshaw, author & Google researcher)
One of T Ching’s contributing writers, Judi Slack, published an article on Michiyo Tsujimura on her own blog, the ABC’s of Tea and has given us permission to republish some of her article here to celebrate the day and honor this little-known tea scientist.
Michiyo Tsujimura…by Judi Slack
was a Japanese agricultural scientist and biochemist whose research focused on the components of green tea. She was the first woman in Japan to receive a doctoral degree in agriculture. Micchyo was perhaps the most outstanding scientist of tea. She made breakthrough after breakthrough in the chemistry of green tea.
she discovered Vitamin C in green tea in 1924. This was a significant finding and the publication of her still famous journal article led to an increase in Japanese tea exports to the US. Five years later in 1929, she went even further in advancing research and isolated catechins in green tea, these are molecular compounds that build tea flavors. The next year, she extracted tannin in crystal form from tea (tannin gives tea its astringent, slightly bitter taste).
She was the first woman awarded a doctorate in agriculture, for her thesis “On the Chemical Components of Tea.” She isolated gallocathechin, a key molecular compound believed to give tea curative and preventive health benefits. In 1935 she patented her method for extracting Vitamin C crystals from plants.
All too often we consider the traditional role of women as pickers in the tea fields and we fail to appreciate their contributions far beyond this as scientists and business persons. Today is an excellent day to be reminded of how limited that perspective is in our current era but also in the history of tea.
I am writing an article on the comparative compounds in green tea. Do you know of any sources that compare catechins, thiamine and caffeine in major categories of Japanese green tea.
Very interesting article Babette. I didn’t know of her and her contributions. I will surely include this info in my Japanese tea tasting training programs.