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.
• One Chinese study found that men who drank more than three cups of tea a day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 70 percent. In another study funded by the National Institute of Health, 79 men with prostate cancer were told to either drink 6 cups of green tea a day or 6 cups of water. After 3 to 8 weeks, the levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein that may indicate cancer, were lower in the men who drank green tea than those who drank water. An indicator of inflammation, nuclear factor-kappaB, linked to cancer growth, was also lower in the men who drank the green tea.
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.
A juniper berry is not a true berry, but is a seed cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales that give it a berry-like appearance. Used as a spice in European cuisine, juniper berry has been used in traditional herbal medicine to support kidney and urinary tract function, as well as to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range. The essential oil can be stimulating to the kidneys. The warming and bitter properties support digestion and can soothe intestinal gas. Juniper berry can also be warming for the joints.
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.