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.
In 1994, Burke International registered the name "Rooibos" with the US Patent and Trademark Office, thus establishing a monopoly on the name in the United States at a time when it was virtually unknown there. When the plant later entered more widespread use, Burke demanded that companies either pay fees for use of the name, or cease its use. In 2005, the American Herbal Products Association and a number of import companies succeeded in defeating the trademark through petitions and lawsuits; after losing one of the cases, Burke surrendered the name to the public domain.
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.
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.
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.
Does green tea really burn fat, and will drinking green tea help you lose more weight? According to some research findings, consuming antioxidants found in green tea, especially catechins and the compound called EGCG, may promote metabolic health and modestly prevent weight gain. When 11 studies and articles were included in one 2009 meta-analysis that was published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that “catechins or an epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)-caffeine mixture have a small positive effect on weight loss and weight maintenance.” (12)
African red tea's naturally sweet taste makes it easy to keep your added sugar intake low. According to the American Heart Association, most Americans consume too much added sugar in their diet, which can lead to weight gain and obesity. The association recommends consuming no more than 6 to 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Added sugar, and especially drinks high in added sugar such as sodas, have no nutritional benefits whatsoever, unlike rooibos, which has a number of associated health benefits.
Because matcha is prone to clumping (that’s why you’ll see instructions to sift it before whisking in the water or milk), you’ll want to take the same precaution in your baking experiments: Saffitz suggests combining the matcha with other dry ingredients like sugar or flour to avoid bitter lumps in your dough or batter. And use it sparingly, she suggests: Even a few teaspoons can create an intense flavor (and color).
To make green tea, the leaves are quickly steamed or heated to stop oxidation, the chemical process that causes browning. To make black tea, the leaves are crushed, torn, curled, or rolled and allowed to oxidize before being dried. This additional processing step degrades some of the flavonoids. As a result, black tea has slightly lower amounts of flavonoids than green tea.
Apart from causing premature aging, free radicals are also responsible for causing certain types of cancer. The catechins present in green tea neutralize these free radicals, prevent the formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines and reduce the risk of cancer for people who regularly consume it. Green tea is now being clinically used and prescribed as a home remedy to aid in the prevention of cancer, particularly for those patients at high risk for cancer in the colon, rectum, pancreas, and intestines.