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.
The next morning, I had a bagel and one daily tea, as instructed. I felt my stomach become uneasy as most stomachs do when they’re working their “digestive magic.” Suddenly, the worst cramp of my life hit me out of nowhere. It was the sharpest PANG I’ve ever felt as it made its way from my stomach to my chest. As a reflex, I jumped up. That’s when I felt another wave of pain and swiftly made my way to the restroom.
Sencha: Sencha comes from the same plant, but in this green tea variation, the leaves are from the middle of the branch and are bigger, older, and less tender than Gyokurocha. This variety gives a clear, light green tea when brewed as well. Naturally, it is more bitter and stronger than the former variety. Being of less noble origin (middle of the branch) and having more caffeine and tannin, it is cheaper and more popular than Gyokurocha.
The use of matcha in modern drinks has also spread to North American cafés, such as Starbucks, which introduced "Green Tea Lattes" and other matcha-flavoured drinks after matcha became successful in their Japanese store locations. As in Japan, it has become integrated into lattes, iced drinks, milkshakes, and smoothies. A number of cafes have introduced lattes and iced drinks using matcha powder. It has also been incorporated into alcoholic beverages such as liqueurs and matcha green tea beers.
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One of the most unexpected health benefits of matcha tea, is that drinkers experience a boost of energy throughout the day. In one study, researchers had thought that this was from the caffeine in matcha, but they found that it was actually the combination of matcha’s natural properties. Another recent study found that matcha even improved physical endurance by 24%.
Matcha typically has more caffeine content than green tea, similar caffeine to black tea, and less caffeine than brewed coffee. Because matcha is produced from shade-grown tea bushes, the tea leaves tend to retain more of their caffeine content. In addition, since you’re consuming the ground tea leaf when sipping matcha, you’re ingesting more caffeine content than you would from the extraction of steeped green or black tea leaves. Like all drinks cultivated from caffeinated plants, however, a specific level of caffeine per cup of matcha tea will depend on the how the matcha was processed and prepared. Be sure and read the packaging carefully or ask your tea supplier directly for the caffeine information specific to the matcha you are buying.
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.