Although numerous claims have been made for the health benefits of green tea, human clinical research has not provided conclusive evidence of any effects. In 2011, a panel of scientists published a report on the claims for health effects at the request of the European Commission: in general they found that the claims made for green tea were not supported by sufficient scientific evidence. Although green tea may enhance mental alertness due to its caffeine content, there is only weak, inconclusive evidence that regular consumption of green tea affects the risk of cancer or cardiovascular diseases, and there is no evidence that it benefits weight loss.
Green, black, brown and now, red! No, these aren’t just some colors on the palette of your paint box. They are hues in the world of tea. The latest addiction and addition to the list being the 'red' tea, all the way from South Africa. We are talking about the Rooibos tea. What makes Rooibos tea so popular is the fact that it is known to have 50% more antioxidants than those found in green tea. Rooibos is obtained from Aspalathus Linearis, a shrub native to the Cape of Good Hope.
About 2 weeks before harvest, farmers build structures around the plants to shade them, leaving them almost in the dark. It’s thought that this makes the leaves softer, sweeter, and brighter. After harvest, the tea leaves are quickly steamed, then dried and put into heated ovens for 20 minutes or so. Workers then remove stems, twigs, and other unneeded parts and grind the leaves into powder.
Matcha is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder. The powder is then whisked with hot water. This is different from regular green tea, where the leaves are infused in water, then removed. Drinking brewed green tea “is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water,” says Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha and co-owner of the tea company teapigs. “You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.” With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves.
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In fact, there is no hard evidence backing the claims made by tea companies that their detox teas actually purify human cells. However, high-quality teas can help support the body’s natural daily process of detoxification—just as much as other foods and drinks can hurt this system, says Laura Lagano, R.D., a New Jersey-based holistic nutritionist. (Discover more about the health benefits of teas such as chamomile, rosehip, or black tea.)
Like gyokuro, matcha is shaded before plucking. The plucked and processed leaf is called tencha. This product is then ground into a fine powder, which is matcha. Because the tea powder is very perishable, matcha is usually sold in small quantities. It is typically rather expensive. Matcha is the type of tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is prepared by whisking the tea with hot water in a bowl, until the surface is frothy. If the water is too hot, the tea may become overly bitter.
Matcha, the focal point of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, is a fine powder made by grinding green tea leaves. Only the finest, young, shade-grown gyokuro tea leaves are used to create matcha. The leaves are plucked and laid out flat to dry. Veins are removed and the leaves, now called tencha, are carefully ground in granite mills until they become the precious powder. Easy preparation is achieved by placing 1 teaspoon of matcha per cup (or to taste) in a cup, adding a few drops of hot water (160-180F) and stirring with a spoon until a paste forms. Add the rest of the water and stir.
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 tea has antioxidants such as catechins – EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which detoxifies the body. A research study assessing the antioxidant power of this tea has revealed that as compared to other green teas matcha has the highest amount of EGCG. These antioxidants seek out for the oxygen free radicals and neutralize their harmful effects. Thus, protecting the body from the occurrence of disorders or inflammations associated with the oxidative stress.
"Tea is a good source of compounds known as catechins and epicatechins, which are thought to be responsible for tea's beneficial health effects," says Dr. Howard Sesso, associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital. These compounds belong to a group of plant chemicals called flavonoids. Research suggests that flavonoids help quell inflammation, and that in turn may reduce plaque buildup inside arteries. Green tea has slightly higher amounts of these chemicals than black tea. Both black and green teas also contain modest amounts of caffeine, ranging from about 20 to 45 milligrams per 8-ounce cup. That's roughly half the amount of caffeine in the same amount of coffee.
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.
Green tea has many health benefits. “It contains many nutrients, including antioxidants and anti-cancer and brain-healthy compounds,” Smith reminds us. One thing is for sure: regardless of whether or not you’ll shed pounds with green tea, drink it anyway. “All teas contain many healthful nutrients; it’s one of the healthier choices for a beverage!” Smith says.
Just have a cup of hot green tea after some rigorous exercise and you will be ready for a few more sets in no time. Furthermore, it effectively counters muscular pain due to overexertion of muscles. Although green tea isn’t widely consumed due to the presence of energy drinks in the market, if you visit Japan and China, you will see that green tea is the premier beverage used by practitioners of martial arts and various other sports.
“Specific detox teas offer added benefits in the additional ingredients,” says Villacorta. Herbs like lemongrass, ginger, dandelion, and milk thistle all contain properties said to support a healthy liver, one of those organs in charge of your natural detoxifying process. Ginger has also been proven to alleviate oxidative stress within the liver, which indirectly helps the organ perform its cleaning task more efficiently, he says.