Both nutritionists we spoke to agree that drinking tea when you wake up and before bed can help your system rev up and calm down, depending on which variety you choose. If you’re a tea fanatic, work in a few cups throughout the day: Unless you’re sensitive to caffeine, you can probably handle five to seven cups a day without any negative side effects, says Lagano.
Green tea has slightly more antioxidants compared to black tea, although both are still great sources. The ORAC value (antioxidant content) of brewed black tea is 1,128 while green tea is slightly higher at 1,253. Black tea and green tea both contain antioxidants, including polyphenols. Some research shows that green tea contains more than four times the catechins that black tea does. Both types can contribute antioxidants to your diet and have been shown to have antiviral, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying and immune-stimulating effects.
To make green tea, the leaves are quickly steamed or heated to stop oxidation, the chemical process that causes browning. To make black tea, the leaves are crushed, torn, curled, or rolled and allowed to oxidize before being dried. This additional processing step degrades some of the flavonoids. As a result, black tea has slightly lower amounts of flavonoids than green tea.
Culinary grade: Culinary grade matcha has a more robust, astringent flavor that can stand up to other ingredients its paired with. It may include ground leaves that still had some stems and veins attached, it may be a slightly duller green than ceremonial grade, and it may often include a mix of matcha powder from several sources. Culinary grade can still be whisked into tea and sipped; in fact, it’s a great matcha to mix with milk for lattes or spirits for cocktails. It’s also a bit less expensive so it’s more affordable to stock as a cooking ingredient.
Rooibos is sometimes used as substitute for milk with colicky babies, says Alvaro Viljoen, PhD, of the department of pharmacy at the University of the Witwatersrand. And the health benefits of Rooibos are bound to make it a favorite, he says: rich in antioxidants, rich in vitamin C, caffeine-free, and low in tannins, the residue in teas that can sometimes cause digestive problems.
Rooibos contains polyphenols that have anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimutagenic qualities. Polyphenols are organic chemicals that are often praised for their antioxidant capabilities. Studies suggest that regularly drinking organic red rooibos tea provides the liver with potent antioxidants, helping the organ to improve detoxification. Antioxidants act as scavengers of free radicals throughout the body, which are detrimental byproducts of cell metabolism that can cause cancer and heart diseases. Aspalathin and nothofagin are two other vital antioxidants that rooibos tea contains, making it a great beverage to boost your immune system and protect your body against all types of diseases.
Sometimes given to babies suffering from colic, rooibos is known for anti-spasmodic activity. A growing body of evidence suggests that the health benefits of rooibos may be quite broad, including evidence that the antioxidants in the tea may reduce the risk of heart disease, and may inhibit some parameters of aging. Rooibos even shows use as a cosmetic ingredient for soothing, protecting and repairing skin.
Polyphenols found in green tea include epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), epicatechin gallate, epicatechins and flavanols, which are under laboratory research for their potential effects in vivo. Other components include three kinds of flavonoids, known as kaempferol, quercetin, and myricetin. Although the mean content of flavonoids and catechins in a cup of green tea is higher than that in the same volume of other food and drink items that are traditionally considered to promote health, flavonoids and catechins have no proven biological effect in humans.
The polyphenols in green tea, especially EGCG, have been shown to have a particularly powerful effect in supporting skin cells and cellular DNA in the presence of UV radiation from sunlight. May different clinical studies have shown EGCG to help skin defend against UVA and UVB rays. And because these polyphenols can accumulate in the skin, regularly drinking green tea or taking a green tea supplement with EGCG can act as all-day supplemental protection.
When I was conducting research into South Africa’s native herbs, I was served rooibos everywhere I went. Red in the cup, fragrant to the nose and pleasing to the palate, rooibos soon became a favorite. In every meeting, I looked forward to that red tea, which is one of the only native herbs of South Africa to achieve significant commercial status. My wife and I keep it in the tea cupboard at home, and we often turn to rooibos when we want a cup of tea without caffeine.
Koicha, or thick tea, requires significantly more matcha (usually about doubling the powder and halving the water): approximately 3.75 grams (amounting to 3 heaping chashaku scoops, or about one teaspoon) of matcha and approximately 40 ml (1.3 oz) of hot water per serving, or as many as six teaspoons to 3/4 cup of water. Because the resulting mixture is significantly thicker (with a similar consistency to liquid honey), blending it requires a slower, stirring motion that does not produce foam. Koicha is normally made with more expensive matcha from older tea trees (exceeding thirty years) and, thus, produces a milder and sweeter tea than usucha; it is served almost exclusively as part of Japanese tea ceremonies.
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.