But ConsumerLab.com’s testing has found that even if lead is found in the leaves used in green tea bags, it doesn’t appear to be absorbed into the water. Cooperman says his team was concerned about lead content in matcha, because people consume the ground green tea leaves directly rather than in bags. However, their testing showed that among the six popular matcha brands they tested—DoMatcha, Encha Organic Matcha, Rishi Teahouse Matcha, Teavana Imperial Matcha, Kirkland Signature Green Tea and The Republic of Tea Double Green Matcha Tea—the powders were not contaminated by lead or other metals, and also did not contain pesticides. As of now, Cooperman says he doesn’t believe lead exposure is a risk in the matcha currently sold in the United States.
Matcha, like other green teas, contains a class of antioxidants called catechins. Matcha is high in a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is believed to have cancer-fighting effects on the body. Studies have linked green tea to a variety of health benefits, like helping to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, and even encouraging weight loss. However, it’s important to note that much of this research isn’t from clinical trials that show green tea causes a benefit. Instead, it’s largely from population-based studies, where researchers look at groups of people who drink green tea and compare their health outcomes to groups that don’t drink it. Studies have shown associations between tea and better health, but causation is not yet proven. Matcha is even less studied than brewed green tea.
Evidence pointing to a boost exists in abundance. But first, let’s clarify what matcha is to begin with — in case you were trapped under something heavy these past few years. It’s basically green tea, derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, finely ground. Oxford’s Living Dictionary cites its origins in Japan as a combo of two terms, “from matsu ‘to rub’ + cha ‘tea’, from Chinese (Mandarin dialect) chá (see tea).” Matcha masters House of Matcha say the beverage is steeped in history. “Samurai warriors drank matcha green tea before going into battle because of its energizing properties, and Zen Buddhist monks drank it as a way to flow through meditation while remaining alert,” reads the website.
Short-term studies have shown that drinking tea may improve vascular reactivity—a measure of how well your blood vessels respond to physical or emotional stress. There's also evidence that drinking either black or green tea may lower harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Blood pressure may also dip slightly in people who drink tea, but results from these studies have been mixed.
Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three time New York Times best selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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.
Along with caffeine, which gives green tea its characteristic taste, bitterness, and stimulating effect, green tea is also rich in a group of chemicals, called catechin polyphenols (commonly known as tannins, which contribute to bitter taste and astringency). These catechin polyphenols include catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and various proanthocyanidins. They are also known as flavonoids and are very powerful antioxidants. Flavonoids, together with some amino acids like thiamine, are responsible for the potent flavor of green tea.
Gardenias were originally found only in China and Japan, but today there are over 200 different species of gardenia, mostly hybrids, throughout the world. Gardenia fruit is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it is known as zhi zi. TCM uses gardenia primarily to promote calm, but it is also used to support bladder and urinary tract health.
It depends not only on the processing method the tea producers use, but also on the cultivation practices the tea growers use. What time of year is the tea plucked? How is the plant pruned? What parts of the plant are plucked? Are the plants treated with chemicals or are they organically grown? What kind of heat is applied to the tea leaves to stop oxidation? How are the tea leaves shaped, rolled and dried? Are the leaves left whole or cut in smaller pieces?