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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.
Being a green tea, matcha does contain caffeine and in higher levels than other green teas. Because the entire leaf is used, matcha tea can contain nearly as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. However, caffeine release is believed to be slower because you are drinking the entire leaf. This slower release of caffeine reduces “caffeine jitters” that coffee or other teas can cause.
Furthermore, green tea also contains amino acids such as theanine, butyric acid, and lignin; xanthine alkaloids such as adenine, dimethylxanthine, theobromine, theophylline, and xanthine; pectin (also found in fruits); saccharides (sugar), chlorophyll, and triterpene saponins. Vitamins, like vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, C, and E are also found in green tea. After that impressive list, perhaps you can begin to understand how packed green tea is with nutrients and beneficial components.
Matcha tea rich in EGCG helps fight various bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. According to a research study, EGCG binds to the lipid membrane and exerts inhibitory action against the growth of various human pathogens. These include influenza A virus, hepatitis B, and C virus, herpes virus, adenovirus Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and Candida albicans yeast.
"Drink tea if you enjoy it, in moderation, and not because you're taking it as a medicine," says Dr. Sesso. Stirring in a little sugar is fine, but if you add a few heaping teaspoons of sugar, you're probably canceling out tea's possible benefits, he notes. And beware of the sugar found in many bottled teas, some of which contain as much as nine teaspoons of sugar per serving—almost as much as colas and other soft drinks. Check bottled tea labels and choose only pure, unadulterated tea—or save money and brew your own at home.
9. Make it a point to learn at least one new thing each day: the name of a flower that grows in your garden, the capital of a far-off country, or the name of a piece of classical music you hear playing in your favorite clothing boutique as you shop. If it’s time for bed and you can’t identify anything you’ve learned that day, take out your dictionary and learn a new word.
I should note that I am currently deployed and have little access to the facilities to make a great cup of tea. One of the great things about matcha however is that you need only a blender bottle and ice and you have a perfect iced matcha for the Iraq heat. Let me tell you, nothing like the grassy, subtly sweet taste to get your morning started right. PT? Matcha. Drills? Matcha. conducting a firefight with Islamic State extremists? Hasn't happened yet, but if it happened I can tell you that I would have my Hydroflask filled with this stuff and engage them with the calm energy of the vegan, philosophy major, Prius-driving, non-binary person I am.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) appears to be matching -- and possibly besting -- the health benefits claimed for other more established teas. A favorite among South Africans for years, the beverage is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than are found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge "free radicals," the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer.
Detox teas that combine caffeine with diuretics can trigger the loss of water weight. Just two cups of water weighs one pound on a scale, so shedding fluid can make you look and feel lighter–even if you haven't lost an ounce of body fat. Detox teas can also trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract, another result that can make your stomach flatter, and allow you to feel lighter, even if your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same. If this quick-fix effect gives you the confidence boost and motivation you need to start eating healthier and working out–the real keys to getting healthy and lean–terrific (assuming the teas are even safe to drink–see below). Just remember: If you go back to your former less-than-stellar eating or exercise habits, or stop drinking the tea, you can gain the weight right back just as quick as you dropped it.
Because matcha preparation uses ground tea leaves that cannot be removed after steeping, the caffeine content in a cup of matcha is much higher than that of a cup of tea prepared using tea bags or leaves. However, the exact caffeine content may vary depending on the ratio of water to matcha powder used. Matcha contains less than half the amount of caffeine per cup than in a similar-sized cup of coffee.
Most detox teas contain caffeine, probably because this stimulant may suppress appetite, trigger your digestive system to let go of waste, and help you shed water weight. A caffeine-induced energy boost may also lead to working out a little longer or harder than usual. However, too much caffeine can also be risky (see above) and interfere with getting enough sleep–and catching too few zzzs may ultimately undo the tea's weight-loss effects. In fact, too little shuteye has been shown to trigger excessive eating and weight gain and even slow metabolism, which can make it easier to gain weight even if you don't eat extra calories. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where your caffeine is coming from, is to nix it at least six hours before bed. And if you're trying to shed pounds, commit to making adequate sleep a top priority.
Generally, lower-quality green teas are steeped hotter and longer while higher-quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter, but usually multiple times (2-3 typically). Higher-quality teas like gyokuro use more tea leaves and are steeped multiple times for short durations. Steeping too hot or too long results in the release of excessive amounts of tannins, leading to a bitter, astringent brew, regardless of initial quality. The brew’s taste is also affected by the steeping technique; two important ones are to warm the steeping container beforehand to prevent the tea from immediately cooling down, and to leave the tea leaf in the pot and gradually add more hot water during consumption.
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?
One of the key components in Matcha is the amino acid L-theanine, which is found almost exclusively in shade-grown green teas like Matcha. When L-theanine is combined with the natural caffeine in tea, it metabolizes more slowly, releasing the caffeine over a longer period of time and providing a stable three to six hour long energy boost (versus coffee caffeine at an hour to an hour and a half).
Unlike traditional green tea, matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder.
Day 3: As I started to make my 5th cup in 3 days, my best friend said, “Ab, I really don’t think you should be drinking so much of this stuff. Why don’t you just stick to the recommended amount?” I responded with “It’s just TEA — what’s the worst that could happen?” On day 3, I learned. I had decided to give up coffee during my 28 days, both as a way to save my sanity and excretory system and as a way to wean myself out of my coffee habit. That was really stupid. By day 3, I was experiencing a horrifying caffeine headache and a rough case of the spins. I was also literally exhausted and finally feeling the ~desired effects~ of the detox (frequent trips to the bathroom, to put it lightly), so I was dealing with an excess of that on top of my other horrible side effects. Do I blame the tea? Not even a little. I blame myself for overindulging in too much of a good thing. From there on out, I decided to follow the rules.
11. Set your alarm a minute earlier every day for the next 100 days. Then make sure that you get out of bed as soon as your alarm rings, open the windows to let in some sunlight, and do some light stretching. In 100 days, you’ll be waking up an hour and forty minutes earlier than you’re waking up now. Learn how to get motivated to wake up every day here!
Basic green and black teas are rich in antioxidants (and matcha green tea is more than 100 times higher in one powerful antioxidant)—the secret behind boosting your natural cleansing process. “Antioxidants work to reduce the oxidative stress and free radicals in our body, too much of which can cause chronic inflammation and even mutate our DNA strains, leading to cancer and other chronic diseases,” says Villacorta.
We’re wary of any trend that involves detoxing with just a drink. By now, we’re all pretty aware that liquid diets can’t sustain our active bodies for very long, and most of the drinks celebrities swear by have little actual detoxifying effects. But a teatox, or tea detox or tea cleanse, is a gentler approach to the whole idea, namely because it involves adding a few herbal cups to your existing, healthy diet—instead of replacing meals entirely.
According to a report published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, “Tea is the most consumed drink in the world after water.” (2) What is green tea good for? According to dozens of studies, regularly drinking green tea may reduce your risk of developing heart disease or Alzheimer’s, help you maintain better bone mineral density, ward off eye diseases that affect vision in older age, prevent strokes, and even extend your life.
Even organically grown green teas have been shown to contain lead, which is absorbed by the plant from the environment, particularly tea grown in China. When traditional green tea is steeped, about 90% of the lead stays in the leaf, which is discarded. With matcha, since the whole leaf is consumed, you will ingest more lead. One independent group, ConsumerLab.com, which tested teas, estimates that a cup of matcha may contain as much as 30 times more lead than a cup of green tea. Therefore, they recommend drinking no more than one cup daily, and not serving it to children.
One thing to watch out for in detox teas, though, is a common ingredient—and herbal laxative—senna. “One part of detoxing is the cleansing of the intestines, and senna aids this process,” he explains. While it can be helpful as a night-time drink short-term, taking senna for too long can cause vomiting, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration. If you feel stopped up, incorporate a senna tea for a few nights (Villacorta recommends Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move). But stick to senna-free varieties for your habitual cup.
Day 28: Honesty time — I took several days off. I went away for the long weekend, and I overindulged in Mexican food, wine tastings, and cherry ice cream. When I got home, I was nursing an exhausted body and a bad case of bloat. The solution? To drink my final cup of tea. After drinking it, I went to bed feeling refreshed and lighter, then woke up the next morning ready for a workout and a day back at work.
Green tea can lower and help stabilize your blood sugar levels (glucose levels); in fact, studies show that green tea can even improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels. One study among Japanese individuals found that those who drank the most green tea had a very significantly lower risk of developing type II diabetes. Other studies have shown similar results.
Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body’s integral well-being and balance. Read more on our Change The Odds Page.
Do you know what the term “cha” means, which is often found in the names of various qualities of green tea such as gyokurocha, sencha, bancha, matcha, and houjicha? It simply means “tea”, and tea is extremely popular all over India as “cha” (in Bengal & adjacent states) and “chai” in other areas. Just some fun facts for you to share with other tea lovers over your next cup of green tea!
Since green tea is less oxidized than its black tea cousin, it is technically fresher and more delicate, so it should be consumed more quickly for maximum flavor. Green tea is best consumed within six months to a year of purchase. You should also take care to store your green tea in a cool, dark place, away from light, oxygen, moisture and fragrant pantry companions like coffee or spices.