Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert yet calm. Modern science has recently confirmed the lessons of centuries of tradition. Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brains functioning. While stress can induce beta waves an excited, more agitated state, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas.
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.
According to a study published in the journal Chinese Medicine, many of the beneficial biological effects of flavonoids on heart health seem to be due to cell-signaling effects that lower inflammation. (6) Not only do flavonoids have anti-inflammatory capabilities, but they’re also antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective compounds.
Matcha green tea is a high-grade, finely ground, concentrated green tea. It’s been traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years and has recently gained notoriety for its high antioxidant content. When you drink matcha tea, you drink the actual tea leaves, which have been ground up. This allows you to obtain even more nutrients compared to drinking steeped green tea.
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"Drink tea if you enjoy it, in moderation, and not because you're taking it as a medicine," says Dr. Sesso. Stirring in a little sugar is fine, but if you add a few heaping teaspoons of sugar, you're probably canceling out tea's possible benefits, he notes. And beware of the sugar found in many bottled teas, some of which contain as much as nine teaspoons of sugar per serving—almost as much as colas and other soft drinks. Check bottled tea labels and choose only pure, unadulterated tea—or save money and brew your own at home.
Still, there have been some interesting findings. A 2014 study looked at 25 randomized controlled trials on the link between tea and blood pressure and reported that when people drank tea—especially green tea—for 12 weeks, their blood pressure dropped significantly. A 2011 study reported that drinking green tea appeared to be linked with lower levels of bad LDL cholesterol, but more research is needed. Because matcha is a type of green tea, they may share similar benefits, but there’s not enough research to make that claim.
"It's only in the last 10 year that Western science has tried to look at antioxidant activities of tea," says Dave Ringer, PhD, scientific program director at the ACS. "It's a young science. Generally, it is felt that tea can inhibit the initiation of cancer and delay its progression in animal studies. But we don't really have large well-controlled epidemiological studies to look at this yet [in humans], because you need to correct for the effects of other dietary components."
Like gyokuro, matcha is shaded before plucking. The plucked and processed leaf is called tencha. This product is then ground into a fine powder, which is matcha. Because the tea powder is very perishable, matcha is usually sold in small quantities. It is typically rather expensive. Matcha is the type of tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is prepared by whisking the tea with hot water in a bowl, until the surface is frothy. If the water is too hot, the tea may become overly bitter.
Green tea has many health benefits. “It contains many nutrients, including antioxidants and anti-cancer and brain-healthy compounds,” Smith reminds us. One thing is for sure: regardless of whether or not you’ll shed pounds with green tea, drink it anyway. “All teas contain many healthful nutrients; it’s one of the healthier choices for a beverage!” Smith says.
Nine health benefits of turmeric tea Turmeric is a spice that contains curcumin, which seems to have anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. In this article, we look at nine health benefits of turmeric tea. These include cancer prevention, protection against liver damage, and improved immune function. We also explain how to prepare turmeric tea. Read now
Already nearly calorie free, matcha is a great addition to a weight loss program by tackling the problem from both sides. It boosts metabolism and burns fat. One recent study even suggested that matcha may help burn calories by four times. At the same time, matcha does not put any stress on the body. It doesn’t raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a safe alternative to questionable quick fixes or pharmaceuticals ridden with side effects.
Ginger Root, the underground stem, or rhizome, of the plant Zingiber officinale, has been used in many herbal traditions since ancient times. In Ayurveda, Ginger is known as the wonder herb, and it's no wonder, since Ayurveda employs Ginger for a wide variety of health applications, including digestive support. Historically, Ginger Root was also one of the most respected herbs for supporting joint health. Additionally, Ginger Root has been traditionally used to support healthy peripheral circulation; and can aid in warming up cold hands and feet, and will also promote sweating when needed.
So what are the best detox teas to choose? If you’re really focused on a start-and-stop teatox (rather than just incorporating detox teas into your diet), check out programs like SkinnyMe Tea, which offers 14- or 28-day packages of high-quality, loose-leaf herbs to steep. Or save a little cash and try one of these four off-the-shelf detoxifying varieties, recommended by Lagano and Villacorta.
Prior to use, the matcha often is forced through a sieve in order to break up clumps. There are special sieves available for this purpose, which usually are stainless steel and combine a fine wire mesh sieve and a temporary storage container. A special wooden spatula is used to force the tea through the sieve, or a small, smooth stone may be placed on top of the sieve and the device shaken gently.
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)
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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.
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Rooibos is sometimes used as substitute for milk with colicky babies, says Alvaro Viljoen, PhD, of the department of pharmacy at the University of the Witwatersrand. And the health benefits of Rooibos are bound to make it a favorite, he says: rich in antioxidants, rich in vitamin C, caffeine-free, and low in tannins, the residue in teas that can sometimes cause digestive problems.
The antioxidants present in rooibos tea slow down the aging process and also boost the strength of the immune system. Researchers at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa found that the local herb helps slow down the degeneration of fat cells, thus inhibiting the formation of wrinkles. Antioxidants in the tea seek out free radicals that damage the skin, hair, bones, and other organ systems by making them vulnerable to diseases and degeneration.
It’s important to point out that while it might be very beneficial, drinking green tea alone likely won’t improve your life span or protect you from disease. Research suggests that a combination of lifestyle components account for the health benefits observed in people that drink tea. The problem with many studies that investigate the effects of green tea is that they are population studies rather than controlled clinical studies, according to the Mayo Clinic. In many of these studies, other lifestyle factors and habits besides drinking green tea are not well-controlled, so it’s difficult to draw conclusions. Overall, studies have found a great number of health benefits of green tea, especially as it relates to anti-aging, but the bottom line is that the quality of your overall diet is really what’s most important.
Rooibos is especially rich in the super-antioxidant compound quercetin. A titan among the antioxidants, quercetin imparts benefits to the heart, helps to reduce the risk of various types of cancers, fights viruses and is significantly anti-inflammatory. Inflammation is part of all known chronic degenerative diseases. The anti-inflammatory activity of quercetin means that it helps to reduce the risk of many types of health disorders.
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Do you know what the term “cha” means, which is often found in the names of various qualities of green tea such as gyokurocha, sencha, bancha, matcha, and houjicha? It simply means “tea”, and tea is extremely popular all over India as “cha” (in Bengal & adjacent states) and “chai” in other areas. Just some fun facts for you to share with other tea lovers over your next cup of green tea!
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.