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.
Aspalathin is one of the rare antioxidants found in rooibos tea and it has a number of unique qualities. It can help balance blood sugar, improve insulin resistance and glucose absorption by muscles, and boosts insulin secretion from the pancreas. This results in an ideal defensive shield against developing type II diabetes, one of the most widespread and dangerous conditions currently sweeping the world.
The first early harvest of tea, plucked before the first flush, is called shincha. Shincha is made from the youngest new growth leaves, and is plucked from early April to early May. Shincha typically refers to the early harvest of sencha, but can refer to any type of tea plucked early in the season, before the main harvest. Because of the limited quantities in which it is produced, shincha is highly prized and expensive to obtain.
Word began to spread and rooibos tea was suddenly being put up against a number of health issues to see what benefits it showers. 50 years later, the world knows all about this powerful little herb! The exact mechanism by which it soothes colic and stomach pain is unknown, but the anti-inflammatory properties of the herb are most likely responsible.
Several varieties of green tea exist, which differ substantially based on the variety of C. sinensis used, growing conditions, horticultural methods, production processing, and time of harvest. Although there has been considerable research on the possible health effects of consuming green tea regularly, there is little evidence that drinking green tea has any effects on health.
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.
For centuries, burdock has been used therapeutically in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. A known diuretic, it stimulates digestion and can be used to treat kidney and liver ailments. Research has shown that compounds in the root contain antidiabetic and antioxidant qualities, and it also helps to promote blood circulation on the skin’s surface, which improves skin texture and helps to prevent eczema.
Gardenias were originally found only in China and Japan, but today there are over 200 different species of gardenia, mostly hybrids, throughout the world. Gardenia fruit is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it is known as zhi zi. TCM uses gardenia primarily to promote calm, but it is also used to support bladder and urinary tract health.
Certain studies indicate that intake of flavan-3-ols and/or anthocyanidins found in green tea may improve glycemic control and help normalize blood sugar levels. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, green tea is believed to be beneficial for those who are at-risk or diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Green tea’s catechins, especially EGCG, appear to have anti-obesity and antidiabetic effects.
According to a study published in the journal Chinese Medicine, many of the beneficial biological effects of flavonoids on heart health seem to be due to cell-signaling effects that lower inflammation. (6) Not only do flavonoids have anti-inflammatory capabilities, but they’re also antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective compounds.
It’s become such a fashionable beverage that, last summer, the New York Post ran a story about how Victoria’s Secret models were flocking to Cha Cha Matcha, a hipster spot fluent in the preparation of various matcha-based miracle potions. A search for where to get “matcha” in New York, New York on Yelp yielded some 1400 plus results. Even mass market coffee purveyors like Starbucks have made matcha their mantra, with a vast range of offerings to cash in on the craze.