One of Japan’s own Zen priests studying in China’s Buddhist monasteries returned to Japan in the early 12th century with tea plant seeds and bushes. The young priest, called Eisai, used his experience in China growing and drinking “beaten tea” to popularize what he called “the way of tea” as a meditation ritual within his community of Japanese Buddhist monks. Eventually, he spread the tea drinking custom throughout the rest of Japan.
The best Matcha Green Tea comes from the first flush, baby green tea leaves that grow during the spring. Only the newest buds of the shade grown tea plants are hand-picked for Premium Matcha production. The window for ideal Matcha Green Tea growth is very limited, which is one of the reasons that Matcha is one of the more expensive teas on the market.
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.
This cleansing tea also contains appetite-suppressing ingredients including yerba mate, guarana and damiana (1), so you can enjoy a cup any time you want to quell your hunger, and in place of unhealthy snacks. Also includes powerful and highly beneficial organic green tea, oolong, ginger, pomegranate and more. Take a sip of paradise and reach your goals at the same time!
In 2013, global production of green tea was approximately 1.7 million tonnes, with a forecast to double in volume by 2023. As of 2015, China provided 80% of the world's green tea market, leading to its green tea exports rising by 9% annually, while exporting 325,000 tonnes in 2015. In 2015, the US was the largest importer of Chinese green tea (6,800 tonnes), an increase of 10% over 2014, and Britain imported 1,900 tonnes, 15% more than in 2014. In 2015, Kenya was the largest exporter of black tea in the world (443,000 tonnes).
Scientists at Tufts University compared the “ORAC” (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a measurement of the total antioxidant power of foods and other chemical substances) of black and green tea and 22 fruits and vegetables, and found green tea brewed for five minutes outranked even so-called superfoods on the produce list. And EGCC, a catechin found in tea (and shows highest levels in green tea) has been shown to protect the DNA in cells from cancer-inducing changes. Antioxidants are essential for neutralizing and removing free radicals found in the bloodstream that can damage cells and cause disease. This antioxidant ability may be why one benefit of green tea is it’s believed to play a role in cancer prevention. Next, find out more health benefits of drinking any type of tea.
Sencha: Sencha comes from the same plant, but in this green tea variation, the leaves are from the middle of the branch and are bigger, older, and less tender than Gyokurocha. This variety gives a clear, light green tea when brewed as well. Naturally, it is more bitter and stronger than the former variety. Being of less noble origin (middle of the branch) and having more caffeine and tannin, it is cheaper and more popular than Gyokurocha.
Because matcha preparation uses ground tea leaves that cannot be removed after steeping, the caffeine content in a cup of matcha is much higher than that of a cup of tea prepared using tea bags or leaves. However, the exact caffeine content may vary depending on the ratio of water to matcha powder used. Matcha contains less than half the amount of caffeine per cup than in a similar-sized cup of coffee.
Tea plants that are specifically grown and used to make matcha are also typically shaded for two weeks to increase chlorophyll levels before the leaves are picked, further boosting concentration of healthy compounds. Matcha green tea tends to be more expensive than buying tea leaves for steeping, but a little goes a long way. Matcha is usually available in powder form and is a good choice for adding green tea’s taste and the benefits of green tea to recipes like smoothies, baked goods or ice cream.
Scientists have also discovered that the antioxidants flavonoids may also protect the brain from oxidative stress. The scientists extrapolated that a human would need to drink about three liters of liquid infused with 0.5 percent of the catechins to get similar effects. However, because humans ingest other antioxidants in the form of vitamins and plant polyphenols, it’s likely that a much lower quantity could be effective in protecting memory.
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.