A Medline search of articles on tea and its health effects yields scores of reports in the medical and scientific literature in the past several years. What emerges is a significant body of literature from animal studies showing that green tea may prevent heart disease and cancer. Other studies have also suggested that it may help avert osteoporosis, a condition characterized by fragile bones, and that it might have beneficial effects on skin when applied topically.
But matcha didn’t skyrocket to celeb status on health merits alone. As we said back in 2011, wheatgrass is healthy, too, but we’re not seeing it in every other bakery and café. Matcha has flavor going for it—grassy, pleasantly vegetal, and slightly bitter—and a brilliant natural color that makes baked goods (like rainbow cookies) stand out from the crowd in busy bakeries (and on Instagram).
Matcha tea rich in EGCG helps fight various bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. According to a research study, EGCG binds to the lipid membrane and exerts inhibitory action against the growth of various human pathogens. These include influenza A virus, hepatitis B, and C virus, herpes virus, adenovirus Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and Candida albicans yeast.
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.
^ Jump up to: a b c "Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze (tea), including catechins in green tea, and improvement of endothelium-dependent vasodilation (ID 1106, 1310), maintenance of normal blood pressure (ID 1310, 2657), maintenance of normal blood glucose concentrations (ID 1108), maintenance of normal blood LDL cholesterol concentrations (ID 2640), protection of the skin from UV-induced (including photo-oxidative) damage (ID 1110, 1119), protection of DNA from oxidative damage (ID 1120, 1121), protection of lipids from oxidative damage (ID 1275), contribution to normal cognitive function (ID 1117, 2812), "cardiovascular system" (ID 2814), "invigoration of the body" (ID 1274, 3280), decreasing potentially pathogenic gastro-intestinal microorganisms (ID 1118), "immune health" (ID 1273) and "mouth" (ID 2813) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006". European Food Safety Authority. 8 April 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2014.
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.
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The reason that green tea has more health benefits attached to it than black tea is due to the processing. Black tea is processed in a way that allows for fermentation whereas green tea’s processing avoids the fermentation process. As a result, green tea retains maximum amount of antioxidants and poly-phenols the substances that give green tea its many benefits.
Because matcha is incorporated into water (whereas other green teas are steeped in water), you consume the entire leaf—and thereby the full effects of its antioxidants, vitamins, and caffeine. Fans say matcha provides a calmer, more sustained energy burst than coffee or espresso, and since it’s less astringent, it mingles more readily with fruit, yogurt, and herbs in wake-up drinks like smoothies and juices.
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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.
Sometimes given to babies suffering from colic, rooibos is known for anti-spasmodic activity. A growing body of evidence suggests that the health benefits of rooibos may be quite broad, including evidence that the antioxidants in the tea may reduce the risk of heart disease, and may inhibit some parameters of aging. Rooibos even shows use as a cosmetic ingredient for soothing, protecting and repairing skin.
If not taken with sugar, the alkaline nature of green tea helps reduce the blood glucose level. Moreover, the antioxidant and astringent qualities of green tea ensure good health and better functioning of the pancreas. Improving the function of the pancreas means a more efficient and regulated secretion of insulin and the subsequent improvement in decomposing and absorbing of sugar. This increase in effective functions can help prevent the onset of diabetes.
A well-known compound found in green tea is called EGCG (which stands for epigallocatechin-3-gallate). EGCG is associated with enhanced metabolic activities that may prevent weight gain or assist with weight maintenance. Some of the ways that EGCG seems to work is by boosting thermogenesis (the body producing heat by using energy) and suppressing appetite, although not every study has found evidence that these effects are substantial.
Heat or boil water, but don’t let it completely boil and become too hot, as this can destroy some of the delicate compounds found in green tea leaves. The “ideal” temperature for brewing green tea is between 160 degrees Fahrenheit to 180 degrees F (traditionally standard Chinese green teas brew at a slightly higher temperatures). Pour hot water into the teapot to steep the leaves for only about 1–3 minutes. Larger leaves need more time to steep than finer, smaller leaves. At this point you can also add any fresh herbs you plan on steeping.
You’ve probably heard a lot about the health benefits of drinking tea, especially the benefits of green tea, considered by many to be the ultimate “anti-aging beverage.” In Okinawa, Japan — one of the world’s “Blue Zones” that’s associated with longevity —drinking green tea daily is considered “essential.” (1) A popular practice is sipping on a combination of steeped green tea leaves, jasmine flowers and a bit of turmeric throughout the day.
Because matcha is a powder made from ground tea leaves, it is not steeped in the traditional way. To prepare matcha, add between ½ teaspoon and 1 teaspoon of matcha green tea powder to a cup. Fill a kettle with water and heat to just short of boiling. Pour 6 ounces of the steaming water into the cup of matcha powder. Then, blend vigorously with a tea frother or bamboo matcha whisk, until the top is nice and foamy. You may need to experiment with the proportions of water and matcha powder to find your favored strength.
Generally, lower-quality green teas are steeped hotter and longer while higher-quality teas are steeped cooler and shorter, but usually multiple times (2-3 typically). Higher-quality teas like gyokuro use more tea leaves and are steeped multiple times for short durations. Steeping too hot or too long results in the release of excessive amounts of tannins, leading to a bitter, astringent brew, regardless of initial quality. The brew’s taste is also affected by the steeping technique; two important ones are to warm the steeping container beforehand to prevent the tea from immediately cooling down, and to leave the tea leaf in the pot and gradually add more hot water during consumption.
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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.
Our green tea is passed through a steaming treatment before rolling. Steaming applies light heat to the leaves to help halt the oxidation process before the leaves are rolled into shape. Steaming also helps expose the fresh, grassy flavor of the leaf. Green tea leaves are not allowed to oxidize after rolling, which is why they remain light color and flavor.
Rooibos is being heavily hyped by producers and distributors as a new health beverage. Unlike true “tea,” it is caffeine-free and low in tannins. It contains minimal amounts of calcium, potassium, iron, zinc, magnesium and much less fluoride than found in real teas. Studies have shown that Rooibos does contain antioxidants and therefore might have some of the health benefits of green tea, but very little research has confirmed this. I found only 17 scientific studies of Rooibos compared to more than 1,000 on green tea. So far, none suggest that Rooibos is the health equivalent of green tea.
Most detox teas contain caffeine, probably because this stimulant may suppress appetite, trigger your digestive system to let go of waste, and help you shed water weight. A caffeine-induced energy boost may also lead to working out a little longer or harder than usual. However, too much caffeine can also be risky (see above) and interfere with getting enough sleep–and catching too few zzzs may ultimately undo the tea's weight-loss effects. In fact, too little shuteye has been shown to trigger excessive eating and weight gain and even slow metabolism, which can make it easier to gain weight even if you don't eat extra calories. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where your caffeine is coming from, is to nix it at least six hours before bed. And if you're trying to shed pounds, commit to making adequate sleep a top priority.