Shade grown: All matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves—a labor-intensive process where tea bushes are protected from the sun and light is filtered to the bushes in a very controlled manor. Shading boosts the chlorophyll production in the plant, giving the leaves a rich green color. The lack of sun reduces the plant’s photosynthesis of the leaves, which in turn alters the naturally occurring levels of caffeine, flavanols, sugars, antioxidants, and theanine. By controlling the sun exposure, tea producers can significantly alter the chemical make-up and flavor of the final tea leaves.
The taste is of matcha is strong. Some people describe it as grass or spinach-like, and it has an umami taste. Because of this it may be sweetened to improve its palatability. One client was thrilled to tell me that he was drinking matcha, but instead of traditional matcha powder, he was drinking a powdered mix. The first ingredient was sugar, and it also contained powdered milk, so it was essentially like hot chocolate—but with cocoa swapped for matcha—something I wouldn’t recommend. Tea experts also warn that with matcha quality is key, and it comes at a cost. In other words, high quality, fresh, pure matcha is expensive. A low price tag can be a red flag for a poor quality product. I like Jade Leaf Organic Japanese Matcha Green Tea Powder ($19; amazon.com), because it's USDA certified organic, third party tested for contaminants, and from Japan.
Rooibos tea is anti-inflammatory in nature, which means that it reduces blood pressure and scavenges free radicals like other antioxidants. Quercetin, another powerful antioxidant found in rooibos tea, has been linked to preventing a wide variety of heart conditions. It promotes an increase in HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol) and inhibits the LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) from binding to the walls of arteries and blood vessels.