Japanese researchers published a study on green tea and its effect on the beta-amyloid protein plaques found in Alzheimer’s disease in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The protein plaques associated with Alzheimer’s disease increase brain cell damage and death due to oxidative stress. The researchers found that green tea catechins reduced the level of damaging free radicals in the brains of rats. The green tea rodents showed much less plaque-induced deficits in memory compared to rodents that didn’t receive green tea and those that were infused with beta-amyloid proteins. (8)
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.
We believe that if you’re going to do something, you should do it right. That mentality took us around the world in search of the best Matcha. We eventually landed in Japan, where we found some of the brightest green powder we had ever seen. Japan has warm weather, and receives plenty of sunlight and rain — all of which make it an ideal climate in which to grow leaves.
Green tea is claimed to have been popularized in Japan around 1190, when a Zen priest visiting and studying in China’s great Buddhist monasteries and temples returned to Japan with tea plant seeds and bushes. The young priest, called Eisai, used his experience growing and drinking tea in China to popularize the way of tea as a meditation ritual within his own community of Buddhist monks, eventually spreading the custom of tea drinking throughout the rest of Japan. To this day, China and Japan are the top two green tea producing and exporting countries in the world.
Forsythia fruit is the dried seed pod of Forsythia suspensa, a lovely bright yellow flowering bush that is among the first spring blooms in many northern climates. Native to China, forsythia fruit is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for detoxifying. Because of its detoxifying qualities, forsythia fruit often finds its way into TCM formulas to support the kidneys and skin.
In this traditional Japanese preparation, the powder is sifted through a fine mesh sieve and measured into a special bowl called a chawan. Hot water is added slowly while whisking briskly in a W pattern with a bamboo whisk called a chasen until smooth with a foamy froth on top. Matcha can have a slight astringent note and is usually served with a small sweet confection called a wagashi. Because of this complementary relationship with sweets and reputed green tea health benefits, it has become a favorite ingredient for chefs and confectioners.
If you do choose to try a tea detox, the most important aspect isn't the kind of healthy tea you choose—it’s what else you eat: “Tea can only be medicinal and detoxifying if your diet isn’t taxing your system, which most American meals are guilty of,” says Lagano. In order to truly detoxify your body, cut processed and fried foods, and up your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and anti-inflammatory fats like avocados and almonds, says Villacorta. Once your diet is clean and gentle on your body, detoxifying teas can begin to enhance your natural organ function.
Others credit various Buddhists in the 500s BC and subsequent centuries for the discovery of tea. Buddhists would travel between India and China spreading their religion, culture and ritual of tea. Buddhist monks grew, harvested and produced tea much like their Catholic counterparts in European monasteries did with grapes and wine. The monks’ habit of tea drinking for physical refreshment, to aid meditation and as a substitute for alcohol developed into a spiritual and social practice that spread across China.
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.
Matcha is green tea that has been specially grown and processed. Twenty days before harvest, the leaves are shaded from direct sunlight, which amps up the chlorophyll levels (and accounts for that Kermit green color) and increases the production of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is thought to promote relaxation even as the tea gives you a caffeine jolt. The leaves are hand-picked and laid out to dry. Once they are rid of their veins and stems, they’re stone-ground into what is finally matcha.
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.