Although numerous claims have been made for the health benefits of green tea, human clinical research has not provided conclusive evidence of any effects. In 2011, a panel of scientists published a report on the claims for health effects at the request of the European Commission: in general they found that the claims made for green tea were not supported by sufficient scientific evidence. Although green tea may enhance mental alertness due to its caffeine content, there is only weak, inconclusive evidence that regular consumption of green tea affects the risk of cancer or cardiovascular diseases, and there is no evidence that it benefits weight loss.
Unlike traditional green tea, matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder.
Researchers from the Netherlands confirmed in a recent study that two green tea compounds, L-theanine and caffeine, can significantly boost levels of attention and alertness, building on what is already known about the brain benefits of green tea. The drink is less likely to make you jittery and anxious than other energy-boosting drinks, because it contains lower levels of caffeine than other teas or coffee. In another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers discovered that drinking just one cup of green tea a day made people age 55 and older 38 percent less likely to experience a decline in their mental abilities. Drinking a second cup daily made them 54 percent less likely to show mental declines.
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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.
The best Matcha Green Tea comes from the first flush, baby green tea leaves that grow during the spring. Only the newest buds of the shade grown tea plants are hand-picked for Premium Matcha production. The window for ideal Matcha Green Tea growth is very limited, which is one of the reasons that Matcha is one of the more expensive teas on the market.
I should note that I am currently deployed and have little access to the facilities to make a great cup of tea. One of the great things about matcha however is that you need only a blender bottle and ice and you have a perfect iced matcha for the Iraq heat. Let me tell you, nothing like the grassy, subtly sweet taste to get your morning started right. PT? Matcha. Drills? Matcha. conducting a firefight with Islamic State extremists? Hasn't happened yet, but if it happened I can tell you that I would have my Hydroflask filled with this stuff and engage them with the calm energy of the vegan, philosophy major, Prius-driving, non-binary person I am.
So what are the best detox teas to choose? If you’re really focused on a start-and-stop teatox (rather than just incorporating detox teas into your diet), check out programs like SkinnyMe Tea, which offers 14- or 28-day packages of high-quality, loose-leaf herbs to steep. Or save a little cash and try one of these four off-the-shelf detoxifying varieties, recommended by Lagano and Villacorta.
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.