The first green tea seeds and bushes were brought to Japan in the year 1191 A.D. by a Japanese Buddhist monk named Myoan Eisai when he returned from travels in China. The young priest used his experience growing and drinking green tea to popularize what he called “the way of tea” as a meditative ritual within his community of Japanese Buddhist monks. The custom of drinking Matcha tea quickly spread throughout Japan and rose in popularity after being accepted into the daily practice of the samurai.
Research shows that people who regularly drink green tea do not fall victim to common bacterial and viral infections as easily as those who do not add it to their diet. It boosts the immune system. The catechins, present in green tea, prevent bacteria and viruses from attaching themselves to cell walls in order to infect them. These catechins also counter the toxins released by microbes. This antimicrobial property also protects you from bad breath, dysentery, diarrhea, tooth decay, indigestion, flu, cough and cold, and colitis, all of which are caused by the microbial and fungal action.
It’s become such a fashionable beverage that, last summer, the New York Post ran a story about how Victoria’s Secret models were flocking to Cha Cha Matcha, a hipster spot fluent in the preparation of various matcha-based miracle potions. A search for where to get “matcha” in New York, New York on Yelp yielded some 1400 plus results. Even mass market coffee purveyors like Starbucks have made matcha their mantra, with a vast range of offerings to cash in on the craze.
Choan, E., Roanne Segal, Derek Jonker, Shawn Malone, Neil Reaume, Libni Eapen, and Victor Gallant. “A prospective clinical trial of green tea for hormone refractory prostate cancer: an evaluation of the complementary/alternative therapy approach.” In Urologic Oncology: Seminars and Original Investigations, vol. 23, no. 2, pp. 108-113. Elsevier, 2005.
Some green tea varieties are better for weight loss than others. If you’re all about that green and on a weight-loss mission, you might want to choose Matcha green tea—the richest green tea source of nutrients and antioxidants. Registered dietitian Isabel K Smith explains why: “The whole leaf is ground and consumed as part of the beverage, as opposed to other (most) types of green tea where the leaves are steeped and then the tea is consumed.”
Shade grown: All matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves—a labor-intensive process where tea bushes are protected from the sun and light is filtered to the bushes in a very controlled manor. Shading boosts the chlorophyll production in the plant, giving the leaves a rich green color. The lack of sun reduces the plant’s photosynthesis of the leaves, which in turn alters the naturally occurring levels of caffeine, flavanols, sugars, antioxidants, and theanine. By controlling the sun exposure, tea producers can significantly alter the chemical make-up and flavor of the final tea leaves.