"It's only in the last 10 year that Western science has tried to look at antioxidant activities of tea," says Dave Ringer, PhD, scientific program director at the ACS. "It's a young science. Generally, it is felt that tea can inhibit the initiation of cancer and delay its progression in animal studies. But we don't really have large well-controlled epidemiological studies to look at this yet [in humans], because you need to correct for the effects of other dietary components."
The first green tea seeds and bushes were brought to Japan in the year 1191 A.D. by a Japanese Buddhist monk named Myoan Eisai when he returned from travels in China. The young priest used his experience growing and drinking green tea to popularize what he called “the way of tea” as a meditative ritual within his community of Japanese Buddhist monks. The custom of drinking Matcha tea quickly spread throughout Japan and rose in popularity after being accepted into the daily practice of the samurai.
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Green tea is a longtime treasure of China and Japan that is gaining popularity in America. It’s easy to understand why: the best green tea leaves are heated or steamed right after harvest, preserving their all-natural flavor and resulting in a nourishing beverage containing antioxidants. With about half the caffeine of black tea, you get the health benefits of green tea in every gentle cup. You can buy green teas in either loose-leaf or green tea bags.
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The rooibos plant is endemic to a small part of the western coast of the Western Cape province of South Africa. It grows in a symbiotic relationship with local micro-organisms. Scientists speculate that climate change may threaten the future survival of the plant and the R600-million (approximately €43-million in March 2017) rooibos industry. Some claim that increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall may result in the extinction of the plant within the next century.
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.
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.
The many well-researched health benefits of green tea make it a great beverage to include in your diet for the prevention and treatment of cancer, heart problems, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, tooth decay, and many others. Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which is also helpful in treating a variety of diseases.
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.
Matcha or maccha is a finely ground, bright emerald-green tea powder with the scientific name Camellia sinensis. It is prepared from a high-quality shade-grown leaf known as tencha. The tea bushes are sheltered to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows down the growth of plants. This provides the leaves with a darker shade of green and stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids.
Additionally, rooibos is a source of two comparatively rare antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin. Aspalathin helps to modify hormones in the body and reduces the output of adrenal hormones specifically, thus reducing stress and helping to inhibit metabolic disorders. Aspalathin also helps to regulate blood sugar and therefore can play a role in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and excessive fat production. The antioxidant nothofagin also demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory activity and, along with aspalathin, may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Both appear to protect nerves.
Usucha, or thin tea, is prepared with approximately 1.75 grams (amounting to 1.5 heaping chashaku scoop, or about half a teaspoon) of matcha and approximately 75 ml (2.5 oz) of hot water per serving, which can be whisked to produce froth or not, according to the drinker's preference (or to the traditions of the particular school of tea). Usucha creates a lighter and slightly more bitter tea.
Gyokurocha: In this variety, the tea leaves are plucked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the color is clear green. Being picked from the tip, this variety has the best taste and fragrance, and this variety is also considered the best in terms of health. Furthermore, it is less bitter, as it contains lesser tannin and caffeine since the plucked leaves are younger and still budding. The only drawback to gyokurocha is the high cost, but as we all know, truly high-quality solutions for health never come cheap!
The best Matcha Green Tea comes from the first flush, baby green tea leaves that grow during the spring. Only the newest buds of the shade grown tea plants are hand-picked for Premium Matcha production. The window for ideal Matcha Green Tea growth is very limited, which is one of the reasons that Matcha is one of the more expensive teas on the market.
African red tea, more commonly called rooibos tea, comes from the South African red bush and is naturally caffeine-free. It can be in the form of either green or red rooibos tea -- but red tea, the fermented variety, is more common. Rooibos is naturally low in calories and is naturally sweet-tasting, making it an ideal replacement for a less healthy, high-sugar drink. Rooibos also has a number of health benefits, including helping you meet your weight-loss goals.
Rooibos tea can be useful for small children who suffer from colic or stomach pain. You may add some sweetened milk to farm direct red rooibos tea to improve the flavor and make it more palatable. This is actually why rooibos tea is a well-known health aid. Many South African women claimed that this plant was very soothing for their colicky infant.
Those magical catechins also have tons of potential in helping people with heart issues. “Catechins present in green tea have the ability to prevent atherosclerosis, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, ischemic heart diseases, cardiomyopathy, cardiac hypertrophy and congestive heart failure by decreasing oxidative stress, preventing inflammatory events, reducing platelet aggregation and halting the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells,” explains the author of the study, published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines.
Red tea is also known as Black tea in Asia. White, green, oolong, and black teas all come from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis. The difference in their flavor lays on the drying processes of their leaves, which determine how oxidized the final product is. Red tea is made of completely oxidized tea leaves, resulting in a darker and aromatic tea drink.