Day 1: So you’re supposed to drink your tea first thing in the morning (or before a workout), but I didn’t receive my package until after arriving home for the day (in the early evening). Since I am a slave to my own desire for instant gratification, I said “Screw the rules!” and made my first cup right then and there. Immediate observation: It’s actually pretty delicious. I don’t consider myself a tea connoisseur by any means, so I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think it needed the recommended addition of honey.
The leaves are used to make a herbal tea that is called by the names: rooibos, bush tea (especially in Southern Africa), or redbush tea (predominantly in Great Britain). The tea has been popular in Southern Africa for generations, but is now consumed in many countries worldwide. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the original Dutch. The tea has a taste and color somewhat similar to hibiscus tea, or an earthy flavor like yerba mate.
Still, there have been some interesting findings. A 2014 study looked at 25 randomized controlled trials on the link between tea and blood pressure and reported that when people drank tea—especially green tea—for 12 weeks, their blood pressure dropped significantly. A 2011 study reported that drinking green tea appeared to be linked with lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, but more research is needed. Because matcha is a type of green tea, they may share similar benefits, but there’s not enough research to make that claim.
• In skin cancer studies, lab animals that were given green tea developed 1/10th as many tumors as animals that were given water. The EGCC in green tea inhibits the production of urokinase, an enzyme that cancer cells need in order to grow. It also seems to stimulate the process of programmed cell death, or apoptosis, in cancer cells. Pair your green tea with these 30 foods that help prevent cancer.
Another big draw health benefit-wise is that matcha, like green tea, is loaded with antioxidants. A study, published in 2014, found the plant also had antimicrobial properties, particularly the four types of catechins (antioxidant properties flavonoids) it contains, against a few different types of microorganisms. Yet another study, published in Nature, proved that catechins inhibit the growth of a bacteria called Fusobacterium nucleatum — the bacteria that causes cavities and periodontal disease.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b Johnson R, Bryant S, Huntley AL (December 2012). "Green tea and green tea catechin extracts: an overview of the clinical evidence". Maturitas (Review). 73 (4): 280–7. doi:10.1016/j.maturitas.2012.08.008. PMID 22986087. In conclusion, whilst there is a considerable body of evidence for green tea with some of it suggesting a positive effect, it is difficult to be definitive as to its health benefits.
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.