Another benefit of green tea it’s is lower in caffeine than most other teas, so you may be able to drink the five cups a day that lowered psychological stress in a large group of Japanese people in a recent study done at Sendai’s Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine. The researchers didn’t identify any particular component of green tea that might have been soothing, but animal studies suggest that one compound, EGCC, had both sedative and hypnotic effects that tamp down the body’s production of stress chemicals.
Heat or boil water, but don’t let it completely boil and become too hot, as this can destroy some of the delicate compounds found in green tea leaves. The “ideal” temperature for brewing green tea is between 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 180 degrees F (traditionally standard Chinese green teas brew at a slightly higher temperatures). Pour hot water into the teapot to steep the leaves for only about 1–3 minutes. Larger leaves need more time to steep than finer, smaller leaves. At this point you can also add any fresh herbs you plan on steeping.
Sejak (세작; 細雀; lit. "thin sparrow"), or dumul-cha (두물차; lit. "second flush tea"), is made of hand-picked leaves plucked after gogu (20–21 April) but before ipha (5–6 May). The tea is also called jakseol (작설; 雀舌; lit. "sparrow tongue") as the tea leaves are plucked when they are about the size of a sparrow's tongue. The ideal steeping temperature for sejak tea is 60–70 °C (140–158 °F).
Tea plants that are specifically grown and used to make matcha are also typically shaded for two weeks to increase chlorophyll levels before the leaves are picked, further boosting concentration of healthy compounds. Matcha green tea tends to be more expensive than buying tea leaves for steeping, but a little goes a long way. Matcha is usually available in powder form and is a good choice for adding green tea’s taste and the benefits of green tea to recipes like smoothies, baked goods or ice cream.
A study suggests that theanine found in matcha tea acts as a neurotransmitter. It exerts a calming effect on the brain without causing any drowsiness. This soothing effect helped the Buddhist monks in maintaining deep concentration during their meditation sessions and was the main reason behind its popularity. Another study has revealed the anti-stress effects of theanine present in this tea, which assists in reducing the physiological and psychological stress responses by inhibiting the neuron excitation. Matcha tea is also believed to boost memory and concentration.
I'll be the first to admit I am NO matcha tea expert. However, I do enjoy this tea a lot. It has a very green, planty taste kind of. It is a lot stronger than something like generic green tea bags from different brands I have tried. I use a tiny whisk to stir it up in hot water and drink. There are some grains at the bottom of the cup that I drink, but it isn't as crazy as greek coffee or anything like that with a thick sludge at the bottom. I like that this gives me the benefits of green tea without having to down as many cups of it, because the matcha is much more potent.
In 2009, King’s College researchers found that epicatechin may protect brain cells through mechanisms unrelated to its antioxidant ability, as epicatechin is one of the few flavonoids that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The King’s College researchers reported that somehow epicatechin protects brain cells from the negative effects of beta-amyloid plaques, although the exact mechanism of how this works is still not entirely know. (9)
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.