Matcha, the focal point of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, is a fine powder made by grinding green tea leaves. Only the finest, young, shade-grown gyokuro tea leaves are used to create matcha. The leaves are plucked and laid out flat to dry. Veins are removed and the leaves, now called tencha, are carefully ground in granite mills until they become the precious powder. Easy preparation is achieved by placing 1 teaspoon of matcha per cup (or to taste) in a cup, adding a few drops of hot water (160-180F) and stirring with a spoon until a paste forms. Add the rest of the water and stir.
Generally, lower-quality green teas are steeped hotter and longer while higher-quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter, but usually multiple times (2-3 typically). Higher-quality teas like gyokuro use more tea leaves and are steeped multiple times for short durations. Steeping too hot or too long results in the release of excessive amounts of tannins, leading to a bitter, astringent brew, regardless of initial quality. The brew’s taste is also affected by the steeping technique; two important ones are to warm the steeping container beforehand to prevent the tea from immediately cooling down, and to leave the tea leaf in the pot and gradually add more hot water during consumption.
Studies in laboratory animals have found that green tea polyphenols inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells (in line with its anti-cancer properties). Other clinical studies have found that green tea offers protection against the development of esophageal cancer, particularly among women. However, one large-scale population-based clinical study found just the opposite: drinking green tea was associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, and the stronger and hotter the tea, the greater the risk. It seems that if the water is very hot, it can damage the esophagus and lead to long-term adverse consequences. So just make sure the tea you drink isn’t extremely hot.
African red tea, more commonly called rooibos tea, comes from the South African red bush and is naturally caffeine-free. It can be in the form of either green or red rooibos tea -- but red tea, the fermented variety, is more common. Rooibos is naturally low in calories and is naturally sweet-tasting, making it an ideal replacement for a less healthy, high-sugar drink. Rooibos also has a number of health benefits, including helping you meet your weight-loss goals.
An animal study published in 2009 in “Phytomedicine” found that green rooibos tea helped regulate glucose metabolism, preventing increases in fasting blood glucose levels during the course of the five-week study. This effect is a result of aspalathin, a compound found in green rooibos. Poor glucose tolerance and high fasting glucose levels are signs of type-2 diabetes and are common in obesity. The study suggests rooibos tea may help keep blood glucose levels in check, preventing sharp spikes and falls that can trigger symptoms of hunger and possibly leading to lower calorie consumption.
Studies on green tea’s impact on cancer have been mixed. But green tea is known to aid healthy cells in all stages of growth. There are some clues that green tea may help destroy cancer cells, but that research is still in its early stages, so you shouldn’t count on green tea to prevent cancer. In fact, the National Cancer Institute's web site says it "does not recommend for or against the use of tea to reduce the risk of any type of cancer."
One of the biggest buzz words in nutrition, antioxidants are naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. Nowadays, a variety of fruits and vegetables are lauded for their antioxidant properties, leading to a host of products with all kinds of claims. But matcha is unparalleled in comparison. Firstly, matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants according to the latest innovation in antioxidant research.
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I'll be the first to admit I am NO matcha tea expert. However, I do enjoy this tea a lot. It has a very green, planty taste kind of. It is a lot stronger than something like generic green tea bags from different brands I have tried. I use a tiny whisk to stir it up in hot water and drink. There are some grains at the bottom of the cup that I drink, but it isn't as crazy as greek coffee or anything like that with a thick sludge at the bottom. I like that this gives me the benefits of green tea without having to down as many cups of it, because the matcha is much more potent.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) appears to be matching -- and possibly besting -- the health benefits claimed for other more established teas. A favorite among South Africans for years, the beverage is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than are found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge "free radicals," the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer.
It’s important to note that I was not interested in, hoping for, or expecting any drastic changes to my appearance. I already lead a pretty healthy lifestyle: I drink 80 oz. of water a day, I work out at least 4-5 days a week, and I do my best to eat lean protein and lots of fruits and veggies. Like I said, I love food, but I’m usually good at keeping my cravings in moderation. I did not have a “goal weight,” and there were no numbers I was hoping to change (blood pressure, weight, heart rate, etc.). I cannot stress this enough: Acknowledge your own body, its needs, and its goals before you try any new regimen. A detox should fit into your life — you should not expect it to change your body overnight.
Based in Las Vegas, Susan Paretts has been writing since 1998. She writes about many subjects including pets, finances, crafts, food, home improvement, shopping and going green. Her articles, short stories and reviews have appeared on City National Bank's website and on The Noseprint. Paretts holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California.
This tea is a rich source of antispasmodic agents, which can ease severe stomach cramps and abdominal pains. This is mainly due to the activation of K+ (potassium) ions in the body without antagonizing the activities of calcium, according to a report published in the Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. This can reduce the presence of hyperactivity in the gastrointestinal tract, thus preventing diarrhea and other intestinal issues.
• One Chinese study found that men who drank more than three cups of tea a day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 70 percent. In another study funded by the National Institute of Health, 79 men with prostate cancer were told to either drink 6 cups of green tea a day or 6 cups of water. After 3 to 8 weeks, the levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein that may indicate cancer, were lower in the men who drank green tea than those who drank water. An indicator of inflammation, nuclear factor-kappaB, linked to cancer growth, was also lower in the men who drank the green tea.
Detox teas that combine caffeine with diuretics can trigger the loss of water weight. Just two cups of water weighs one pound on a scale, so shedding fluid can make you look and feel lighter–even if you haven't lost an ounce of body fat. Detox teas can also trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract, another result that can make your stomach flatter, and allow you to feel lighter, even if your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same. If this quick-fix effect gives you the confidence boost and motivation you need to start eating healthier and working out–the real keys to getting healthy and lean–terrific (assuming the teas are even safe to drink–see below). Just remember: If you go back to your former less-than-stellar eating or exercise habits, or stop drinking the tea, you can gain the weight right back just as quick as you dropped it.
Most Japanese teas are blended from leaves grown in different regions, with less emphasis on terroir than in the Chinese market. Because of the limited quantity of tea that can be produced in Japan, the majority of production is dedicated to the premium tea market. Bottled tea and tea-flavored food products usually use lower-grade Japanese-style tea produced in China.
Matcha: This is the leftover powder of green tea, also called “Dust”. It makes a beautifully green-colored tea and forms a lot of foam (froth), but has a weaker aroma than the leafy varieties. This variety of green tea is very popular in traditional ceremonies and is sometimes also called Ceremonial Green Tea. It is far less bitter than the other three varieties, so when you sip it, it seems to hold a natural sweetness, particularly if you are familiar with the other varieties.