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Shell Ginger Tea - The Secret To Longevity

With a life expectancy of 83.7 years, Japan ranks No. 1 in the world when it comes to longevity (a position it’s held for more than 20 years). Comparing this to the global average of 69.1 years, it’s no wonder people have been trying to uncover the Japanese secrets to a long and healthy life.

Shell ginger tea
Shell Ginger Tea courtesy of Green Plan Shinjo

Many of Japan’s longest-living people are from Okinawa, a chain of tropical islands in the southernmost part of Japan that is home to a large number of the world’s centenarians (people living to 100 years and more). Among the many reasons contributing to their longevity, nutrition and the "Okinawan diet" are said to be key factors.

So what makes the Okinawan diet so special? One local ingredient, known as gettou (月桃, alpinia zerumbet, moon peach, or shell ginger), has been the focus of various studies and is said to be a significant contributor to longevity in Okinawa.

Shell ginger is a plant that grows in abundance in Okinawa and has been used both in traditional Okinawan cuisine and as a traditional herbal remedy. It’s part of the ginger family and gets its name from its beautiful, pink, shell-shaped flowers.

Shell ginger plantShell Ginger Plant and Flower

Results of recently published studies have shown that shell ginger contains abundant bioactive phytochemicals with additional anti-obesity, antioxidant, and anti-aging properties. In addition, animal studies have shown shell ginger to be a life-expanding plant and suggest that this plant, if used in humans, could expand their lifespan by 22.6%.

The leaves also work as a natural preservative and bug repellent and are used to help foods last longer. Okinawans use the leaves to wrap mochi (pounded rice cake mixed with kokuto (black sugar) or purple sweet potatoes—another staple in the traditional Okinawan diet), for steaming rice buns, meat, or fish, or dried into a powder and mixed with buckwheat to make local soba. However, one of the most common ways to consume it is by using its leaves and flowers to make shell ginger tea (one tea can have 34 times more polyphenols compared to red wine!).

Mochi wrapped in shell ginger leaves                           

Mochi Wrapped in Shell Ginger Leaves   

Purple Potato Mochi wrapped in Shell Ginger leaf

Okinawan Purple Potato Mochi Wrapped in Shell Ginger Leaf

Shell ginger tea has a beautiful golden brown color when steeped and a subtle flavor with floral and clove undertones, followed by a slight spicy ginger aftertaste. Traditionally, this tea has been used to reduce fat absorption, increase metabolic rates, reduce inflammation and allergy symptoms, prevent high blood pressure and sudden rises in blood sugar, and improve digestion.

The taste alone makes this a favorite when it comes to Japanese tea. The added potential health and longevity benefits keep us coming back for more!

About the author

Lillian Rowlatt from Kokoro Care PackagesKokoro Care Packages

Lillian Rowlat is co-founder of Kokoro Care Packages, which offers hand-crafted monthly and seasonal Care Packages filled with premium-quality, all-natural Japanese foods delivered straight from Japan to your door. Each item (including snacks, spices, soups, teas, and more) is carefully selected for its quality, ease of use, and, of course, great taste! All products are free from chemicals, and many cannot be found outside of Japan. They work closely with local producers who share their values and are passionate about the products they create. They also proudly share the stories behind the producers, farmers, and regions from which the foods are produced. Their mission is to reconnect people and communities over a shared meal. You can learn more about Kokoro Care Packages at or @kokorocares. You can also reach them at

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8 comments on Shell Ginger Tea - The Secret To Longevity
  • Kei Nishida
    Kei NishidaApril 11, 2024

    Hi Andrea and Carol,
    I have sent you an email about where to get Shell Ginger Tea.
    Anyone needing contact information, please contact us from our contact page here:

    Hi Aaron,
    Thank you very much for your comment!

    As long as you keep the tea in the refrigerator, it should be ok for a couple of days. For tricks about cold-brewing tea, please check this blog:

    Thank you very much!

  • Aaron
    Aaron April 11, 2024

    Yeah I love including chopped shell ginger leaves in my green tea and chamomile, it adds a really nice flavor.
    But my large Alpinia zerumbut plant hasn’t flowered yet which is disappointing. Probably not humid enough in Melbourne.

  • Andrea Waddell
    Andrea Waddell April 11, 2024

    Can you tell me where I can buy shell ginger tea??

  • Dominic Sengi
    Dominic SengiApril 11, 2024

    I boiled shell ginger leaves until I get a tea like coloration. I filtered it and kept it in the fridge and drinking a cup three times each day. Is it ok?

  • Carol Braccini
    Carol BracciniApril 11, 2024

    Can you also send me an email with information where I can find Jipang shell ginger? I read that it may be beneficial for skin cancer.

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