One of the most unexpected health benefits of matcha tea, is that drinkers experience a boost of energy throughout the day. In one study, researchers had thought that this was from the caffeine in matcha, but they found that it was actually the combination of matcha’s natural properties. Another recent study found that matcha even improved physical endurance by 24%.
In January 2015, we wrote about the rapid rise of matcha on the American beverage landscape and posed the question, “Have we reached maximum matcha saturation?” Three years later, we're living amid matcha croissants, matcha custard pie, matcha face masks, matcha lifestyle guides and $50 cups of matcha itself. Clearly, the answer was "No." But what is this powder we're whisking into green lattes, baking into doughnuts, blending into smoothies, and adding to our fish fillets?
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.
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha as hot tea and embodies a meditative spiritual style. In modern times, matcha also has come to be used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery. Matcha used in ceremonies is referred to as ceremonial-grade matcha, meaning that the matcha powder is of a high enough quality to be used in the tea ceremony. Lower quality matcha is referred to as culinary-grade matcha, but there is no standard industry definition or requirements for either.
The next morning, I had a bagel and one daily tea, as instructed. I felt my stomach become uneasy as most stomachs do when they’re working their “digestive magic.” Suddenly, the worst cramp of my life hit me out of nowhere. It was the sharpest PANG I’ve ever felt as it made its way from my stomach to my chest. As a reflex, I jumped up. That’s when I felt another wave of pain and swiftly made my way to the restroom.
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.
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This tea is a rich source of antispasmodic agents, which can ease severe stomach cramps and abdominal pains. This is mainly due to the activation of K+ (potassium) ions in the body without antagonizing the activities of calcium, according to a report published in the Basic & Clinical Pharmacology & Toxicology. This can reduce the presence of hyperactivity in the gastrointestinal tract, thus preventing diarrhea and other intestinal issues.
There’s a right and wrong way to brew green tea. When brewing green tea, take a little extra care, as boiling water is bad for the precious catechins (tea’s healthy chemicals). Do bring your water to a boil, but let it rest for about ten minutes. Then, pour the water over the tea and brew for about one minute before serving. Of course, the brew time can be made shorter or longer, depending on your taste.
Today, an estimated 2.5 million tons of tea leaves are produced each year throughout the world, with 20 percent of that being green tea. Green tea didn’t become popular or widely distributed outside of Asia until about the early 1900s. China, other countries in Asia, countries in North Africa, the United States and Europe currently consume the most green tea worldwide.
The leaves are used to make a herbal tea that is called by the names: rooibos, bush tea (especially in Southern Africa), or redbush tea (predominantly in Great Britain). The tea has been popular in Southern Africa for generations, but is now consumed in many countries worldwide. It is sometimes spelled rooibosch in accordance with the original Dutch. The tea has a taste and color somewhat similar to hibiscus tea, or an earthy flavor like yerba mate.
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Forsythia fruit is the dried seed pod of Forsythia suspensa, a lovely bright yellow flowering bush that is among the first spring blooms in many northern climates. Native to China, forsythia fruit is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for detoxifying. Because of its detoxifying qualities, forsythia fruit often finds its way into TCM formulas to support the kidneys and skin.
The rich antioxidants present in matcha tea help in cancer prevention, improved mental alertness and clarity, detoxification, free radical scavenging activity, and stronger immune defense. Polyphenols and catechin-rich matcha promotes relaxation and contributes beneficially to prevention and treatment of various medical conditions. These include bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. Matcha tea also assists in maintaining cardiovascular health, gastrointestinal health, and works as a superb energy booster.
Day 14: At halfway through my detox, I finally officially figured out what works for me and my body. The plan: my standard first-thing-in-morning cup of coffee, then an iced version of the tea to drink with me throughout the day. I sip it all day long, and it’s both refreshing and hydrating. I can very honestly say I feel AWESOME. I’m having no kinds of digestive problems, I feel lighter while running at the gym, and my stomach is significantly less bloated and more toned.