Green tea is claimed to have been popularized in Japan around 1190, when a Zen priest visiting and studying in China’s great Buddhist monasteries and temples returned to Japan with tea plant seeds and bushes. The young priest, called Eisai, used his experience growing and drinking tea in China to popularize the way of tea as a meditation ritual within his own community of Buddhist monks, eventually spreading the custom of tea drinking throughout the rest of Japan. To this day, China and Japan are the top two green tea producing and exporting countries in the world.
On this episode of Consumed, host and Eater Drinks editor Kat Odell looks into the matcha production process — how it differs from that of more traditional steeped green tea, and how two of New York's noted matcha purveyors (Ippodo Tea Company and Matchabar) are working with the product today. Watch the video above for a lesson in powdered green tea; if your interest is piqued, check this map for the best places to drink matcha across the country, and these recipes for making iced matcha drinks at home, perfect for the summer.
Matcha is green tea that has been specially grown and processed. Twenty days before harvest, the leaves are shaded from direct sunlight, which amps up the chlorophyll levels (and accounts for that Kermit green color) and increases the production of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is thought to promote relaxation even as the tea gives you a caffeine jolt. The leaves are hand-picked and laid out to dry. Once they are rid of their veins and stems, they’re stone-ground into what is finally matcha.
It depends not only on the processing method the tea producers use, but also on the cultivation practices the tea growers use. What time of year is the tea plucked? How is the plant pruned? What parts of the plant are plucked? Are the plants treated with chemicals or are they organically grown? What kind of heat is applied to the tea leaves to stop oxidation? How are the tea leaves shaped, rolled and dried? Are the leaves left whole or cut in smaller pieces?
One of the key components in Matcha is the amino acid L-theanine, which is found almost exclusively in shade-grown green teas like Matcha. When L-theanine is combined with the natural caffeine in tea, it metabolizes more slowly, releasing the caffeine over a longer period of time and providing a stable three to six hour long energy boost (versus coffee caffeine at an hour to an hour and a half).
Matcha is hot with chefs, not just as a beverage, but as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. If you Google matcha recipes, you’ll find everything from matcha muffins, brownies and puddings, to matcha soup, stir frys, and even matcha guacamole! I love experimenting with it, and in a previous post I wrote about the potential weight loss benefits of umami foods (The Surprising Food Flavor That Can Help You Shed Pounds). But due to concerns about lead, I recommend avoiding “matcha madness.” Even with superfoods, you can get too much of a good thing (check out my article 4 Superfoods You Might Be Overeating). So look for pure, organic, quality matcha, and enjoy it in moderation.
In fact, there is no hard evidence backing the claims made by tea companies that their detox teas actually purify human cells. However, high-quality teas can help support the body’s natural daily process of detoxification—just as much as other foods and drinks can hurt this system, says Laura Lagano, R.D., a New Jersey-based holistic nutritionist. (Discover more about the health benefits of teas such as chamomile, rosehip, or black tea.)
It also appears to contain more EGCG. ConsumerLab.com, an independent testing group, tested matcha products in 2015 and found that matcha provided 17 mg to 109 mg of EGCG per serving. By comparison, the average brewed green tea provides 25 to 86 mg per serving. While matcha powders contained more catechins per gram than brewed green tea, it was substantially more expensive: The lowest cost matcha powder was available at the time for $2.31 for 200mg of EGCG, compared to 27 cents for the same amount from brewed green tea. Compared to the powders, matcha in tea bags provides significantly less EGCG.
Simply stated, tea detoxes claim to rid your body of the toxins caused by a build-up of unhealthy foods, alcohol, and a number of other things your body doesn’t use to properly function. The teas are mixtures of various ingredients (green tea, matcha, oolong, goji berries, etc.), all with impressive health benefits, and the point is that the tea provides you with sustainable energy while subsequently eliminating toxins from your body. Most teas are to be consumed at least once a day, and some are accompanied by an additional colon cleanser.
Just have a cup of hot green tea after some rigorous exercise and you will be ready for a few more sets in no time. Furthermore, it effectively counters muscular pain due to overexertion of muscles. Although green tea isn’t widely consumed due to the presence of energy drinks in the market, if you visit Japan and China, you will see that green tea is the premier beverage used by practitioners of martial arts and various other sports.
Additionally, rooibos is a source of two comparatively rare antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin. Aspalathin helps to modify hormones in the body and reduces the output of adrenal hormones specifically, thus reducing stress and helping to inhibit metabolic disorders. Aspalathin also helps to regulate blood sugar and therefore can play a role in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and excessive fat production. The antioxidant nothofagin also demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory activity and, along with aspalathin, may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Both appear to protect nerves.
Green tea also seems to boost physical performance, increase exercise endurance, and decrease reaction time, and there are many, many such studies showing these effects from caffeine, although other ingredients in green tea may aid this effect. Caffeine, and green tea’s, ability to mobilize fatty acids in fat tissue to make them more easily available for use as energy also seems to aid physical performance. In one study, caffeine was shown to significantly increase physical performance (exercise endurance and exertion). The antioxidants in green tea may also help prevent tissue damage during physical exertion as well.
Beautiful Fall day here in Dallas 😎Getting ready for a walk with the Ellie Girl and my @teamiblends of course. Love taking my tumbler on-the-go. My Alive tea keeps me energized (so I exercise instead of nap! 😉) This is actually Sean’s tumbler but the black is so sleek I stole it for the day… Use my code CGFREE to get a free black tumbler with your purchase of $49.99 when you order #iloveteami #thankyouteami
Matcha literally means "powdered tea." When you order traditional green tea, components from the leaves get infused into the hot water, then the leaves are discarded. With matcha, you’re drinking the actual leaves, which have been finely powdered and made into a solution, traditionally by mixing about a teaspoon of matcha powder with a third cup of hot water (heated to less than a boil), which is then whisked with a bamboo brush until it froths.
Already nearly calorie free, matcha is a great addition to a weight loss program by tackling the problem from both sides. It boosts metabolism and burns fat. One recent study even suggested that matcha may help burn calories by four times. At the same time, matcha does not put any stress on the body. It doesn’t raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a safe alternative to questionable quick fixes or pharmaceuticals ridden with side effects.
^ Jump up to: a b Zhang C, Qin YY, Wei X, Yu FF, Zhou YH, He J (February 2015). "Tea consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies". Eur J Epidemiology (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 30 (2): 103–13. doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9960-x. PMID 25354990.
Forsythia fruit is the dried seed pod of Forsythia suspensa, a lovely bright yellow flowering bush that is among the first spring blooms in many northern climates. Native to China, forsythia fruit is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for detoxifying. Because of its detoxifying qualities, forsythia fruit often finds its way into TCM formulas to support the kidneys and skin.
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.
Green tea contains significant amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and improving blood vessel function. The benefits of green tea also include associations with lower cholesterol and lower rates of artery blockages. People who drink a cup or two a day have a 46 percent lower risk of developing narrowed arteries. Upping that to three cups a day lowers the risk of having a heart attack by 43 percent and of dying from a heart attack by 70 percent. It can even help prevent a second heart attack. In a study of 1,900 patients recovering from heart attacks at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the death rate among patients who drank at least two cups of tea a day was 44 percent lower than among non-tea drinkers.