Evidence pointing to a boost exists in abundance. But first, let’s clarify what matcha is to begin with — in case you were trapped under something heavy these past few years. It’s basically green tea, derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, finely ground. Oxford’s Living Dictionary cites its origins in Japan as a combo of two terms, “from matsu ‘to rub’ + cha ‘tea’, from Chinese (Mandarin dialect) chá (see tea).” Matcha masters House of Matcha say the beverage is steeped in history. “Samurai warriors drank matcha green tea before going into battle because of its energizing properties, and Zen Buddhist monks drank it as a way to flow through meditation while remaining alert,” reads the website.
Matcha is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder. The powder is then whisked with hot water. This is different from regular green tea, where the leaves are infused in water, then removed. Drinking brewed green tea “is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water,” says Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha and co-owner of the tea company teapigs. “You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.” With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves.
All that being said, it should come as no surprise that I fell victim to the active marketing campaigns of one of the year’s biggest trends: fitness teas. You know what I’m talking about: stars and influencers like Kylie Jenner, Catherine Giudici Lowe, and Vanessa Hudgens are touting the successes of their respective experiences with fitness teas. These teas (by various brands) claim to eliminate bloat, cleanse your insides, and detoxify your organs. They claim to help you lose weight and curb cravings. Seriously? I thought as I scrolled through ad after ad. Sign. Me. Up.
According to Record of Gaya cited in Memorabilia of the Three Kingdoms, the legendary queen Heo Hwang-ok, a princess of the Ayodhya married to King Suro of Gaya, brought the tea plant from India and planted it in Baegwolsan, a mountain in current Changwon.:3 However, it is a widely held view that systematic planting of tea bushes began with the introduction of Chinese tea culture by the Buddhist monks around the 4th century. Amongst some of the earliest Buddhist temples in Korea, Bulgapsa (founded in 384, in Yeonggwang), Bulhoesa (founded in 384, in Naju) and Hwaeomsa (founded in Gurye, in 544) claim to be the birthplace of Korean tea culture. Green tea was commonly offered to Buddha, as well as to the spirits of deceased ancestors. Tea culture continued to prosper during the Goryeo Dynasty, with the tea offering being a part of the biggest national ceremonies and tea towns were formed around temples. Seon-Buddhist manners of ceremony prevailed. During the Joseon Dynasty, however, Korean tea culture underwent secularization, along with the Korean culture itself. Korean ancestral rite jesa, also referred to as charye (차례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), has its origin in darye (다례; 茶禮, "tea rite"), the practice of offering tea as simple ancestral rites by the royal family and the aristocracy in Joseon.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves that also are used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest and may last up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight.[better source needed] This slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of amino acids, in particular theanine. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled up before drying as in the production of sencha, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, however, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha (碾茶). Then, tencha may be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.[better source needed]
Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body’s integral well-being and balance. Read more on our Change The Odds Page.
Like black and green tea, rooibos is rich in polyphenols, such as rutin and quercetin. Cell and animal studies, mostly from South Africa, have shown that rooibos extracts have antioxidant, immune-stimulating, and anti-cancer properties. But studies of rooibos tea in people are limited. There’s little or no evidence to back claims that it relieves constipation, headaches, eczema, asthma, insomnia, high blood pressure, mild depression, ulcers, diabetes, and so on.
Rooibos tea is anti-inflammatory in nature, which means that it reduces blood pressure and scavenges free radicals like other antioxidants. Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in rooibos tea, has been linked to preventing a wide variety of heart conditions. It promotes an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and inhibits the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and blood vessels.