Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert yet calm. Modern science has recently confirmed the lessons of centuries of tradition. Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brains functioning. While stress can induce beta waves an excited, more agitated state, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas.
"Tea is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which are thought to be responsible for tea's beneficial health effects," says Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. These compounds belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Both black and green teas also contain modest amounts of caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. That's roughly half the amount of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.
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.
Green Tea comes from Camellia sinensis leaves that are immediately steamed or pan-fired rather than being exposed to air so that no oxidation occurs. This special handling makes for a more delicate brew that is typically lower in caffeine than black and Oolong teas. Although amounts vary, green teas are highest in polyphenols known as EGCG, which is why so many make it part of their healthy lifestyle.
Since green tea is less oxidized than its black tea cousin, it is technically fresher and more delicate, so it should be consumed more quickly for maximum flavor. Green tea is best consumed within six months to a year of purchase. You should also take care to store your green tea in a cool, dark place, away from light, oxygen, moisture and fragrant pantry companions like coffee or spices.
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.
Matcha tea works wonderfully well in providing a calming effect on the body. L-theanine, a unique amino acid present in this green tea, possesses anti-anxiolytic properties, which assists in boosting alpha waves in the brain. These alpha waves enhance mood, encourage relaxation, induce a profound feeling of mental clarity, and help achieve an alert state of mind.
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.
These are some of the many benefits but the reality is one cup of tea a day will not give you all the abundant gains. The jury is out on how many cups are necessary; some say as little as two cups a day while others five cups. If you are thinking of going down this route, you may want to consider taking a green tea supplement instead (it would keep you out of the bathroom).
With the day-to-day stress that life throws our way, it's essential to stock up on self-care items to stay healthy, invigorated, and relaxed. Incorporating a cup of healthy detox tea into your daily regimen can bring significant health benefits, from boosting your immune system to detoxifying the liver after those holiday parties and whiskey cocktails. Here are our picks for detox tea cleanses you should be sipping this season.
^ Jump up to: a b c "Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze (tea), including catechins in green tea, and improvement of endothelium-dependent vasodilation (ID 1106, 1310), maintenance of normal blood pressure (ID 1310, 2657), maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations (ID 1108), maintenance of normal blood LDL cholesterol concentrations (ID 2640), protection of the skin from UV-induced (including photo-oxidative) damage (ID 1110, 1119), protection of DNA from oxidative damage (ID 1120, 1121), protection of lipids from oxidative damage (ID 1275), contribution to normal cognitive function (ID 1117, 2812), "cardiovascular system" (ID 2814), "invigoration of the body" (ID 1274, 3280), decreasing potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms (ID 1118), "immune health" (ID 1273) and "mouth" (ID 2813) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006". European Food Safety Authority. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
Use it as a natural food coloring in cake batter and icings, or make a less-sweet snickerdoodle by rolling the cookies in matcha-sugar. Infuse it into milk or coconut milk before you make ice cream, or incorporate it into a citrusy dry-rub for salmon or tuna. Sprinkle matcha over poached eggs to intensify their savoriness, or cream butter with matcha and granulated sugar, then spread it over toasted brioche. Or shake ½ teaspoon into a lemony, herbal cocktail.
facilitates the burning of body fat. Green tea promotes the body’s ability to burn fat through thermogenesis and fat oxidation. A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found the combination of polyphenols and caffeine from an extract of green tea resulted in a “significant increase” of energy expenditure compared to placebo.
Drinking green tea or taking green tea supplements decreases the blood concentration of total cholesterol (about 3–7 mg/dL), LDL cholesterol (about 2 mg/dL), and does not affect the concentration of HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. A 2013 Cochrane meta-analysis of longer-term randomized controlled trials (>3 months duration) concluded that green tea consumption lowers total and LDL cholesterol concentrations in the blood.
improves insulin sensitivity and may help protect against diabetes, as well as against rapid rises and subsequent crashes in blood sugar levels that lead to fatigue, irritability, and food cravings. A study in Annals of Internal Medicine found consumption of green tea (as well as black tea and coffee), was associated with a reduced risk of type 2 diabetes.
Another benefit of green tea it’s is lower in caffeine than most other teas, so you may be able to drink the five cups a day that lowered psychological stress in a large group of Japanese people in a recent study done at Sendai’s Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. The researchers didn’t identify any particular component of green tea that might have been soothing, but animal studies suggest that one compound, EGCC, had both sedative and hypnotic effects that tamp down the body’s production of stress chemicals.
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.
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.
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.
While there are countless brands of matcha available that claim to be “premium top quality matcha” you’ll want to check their tests and certifications. Many of the matcha products available on the market are made from poor quality leaves and contaminated by lead. Our matcha is made from 100% USDA certified organic green tea leaves sourced from the finest tea plantations in Japan. We also have our matcha tested by a third-party lab for product quality and purity, so you can be sure you’re not ingesting harmful chemicals. We maintain the highest standard, and all our product test results are available to the public.
Rooibos or 'red bush' from South Africa is found to be a very potent variety of red tea prepared from the leaves of the herb Aspalathus linearis. Indigenous to the Cape of Good Hope region of South Africa, Rooibos is the only red tea that undergoes a fermentation process similar to black tea. Fermentation turns the green leaves into a garnet colour and lends a very sweet flavor. Rooibos endowed with a very high magnesium ('Nature's tranquilizer') component, acts as a natural adaptogen i.e., that which helps the body adapt to stress.
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.
Most detox teas contain caffeine, probably because this stimulant may suppress appetite, trigger your digestive system to let go of waste, and help you shed water weight. A caffeine-induced energy boost may also lead to working out a little longer or harder than usual. However, too much caffeine can also be risky (see above) and interfere with getting enough sleep–and catching too few zzzs may ultimately undo the tea's weight-loss effects. In fact, too little shuteye has been shown to trigger excessive eating and weight gain and even slow metabolism, which can make it easier to gain weight even if you don't eat extra calories. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where your caffeine is coming from, is to nix it at least six hours before bed. And if you're trying to shed pounds, commit to making adequate sleep a top priority.