Japanese green teas have a thin, needle-like shape and a rich, dark green color. Unlike Chinese teas, most Japanese teas are produced by steaming rather than pan firing. This produces their characteristic color, and creates a sweeter, more grassy flavor. A mechanical rolling/drying process then dries the tea leaves into their final shape. The liquor of steamed Japanese tea tends to be cloudy due to the higher quantity of dissolved solids.
Matcha: This is the leftover powder of green tea, also called “Dust”. It makes a beautifully green-colored tea and forms a lot of foam (froth), but has a weaker aroma than the leafy varieties. This variety of green tea is very popular in traditional ceremonies and is sometimes also called Ceremonial Green Tea. It is far less bitter than the other three varieties, so when you sip it, it seems to hold a natural sweetness, particularly if you are familiar with the other varieties.
I never told anyone this, and by now, you’re probably thinking I’m a fool. But can I just say that I actually thought if I followed the commenters (about how long to steep) that I’d be ok? Man, listen. The same thing happened again. Exactly as it happened before, except it actually made me vomit! Thank God ever since the first incident, I keep alcohol in my medicine cabinet and I always take my phone to the restroom. I sniffed it quick as I felt a blackout coming on. The smell allowed me to hang on to the edge of consciousness. However, with only enough strength to pull the Emergency Call screen up on my phone, I thought for sure that I was going to go out in the bathroom, Elvis Presely style. Was this my punishment for being so vain?
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.
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.
• 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.
Although numerous claims have been made for the health benefits of green tea, human clinical research has not provided conclusive evidence of any effects. In 2011, a panel of scientists published a report on the claims for health effects at the request of the European Commission: in general they found that the claims made for green tea were not supported by sufficient scientific evidence. Although green tea may enhance mental alertness due to its caffeine content, there is only weak, inconclusive evidence that regular consumption of green tea affects the risk of cancer or cardiovascular diseases, and there is no evidence that it benefits weight loss.
Matcha contains a healthy form of caffeine; not to be mistaken with the one present in regular coffee. This unique form of caffeine known as theophylline sustains the energy levels without any adverse effects. The slow release of energy due to theophylline helps in supporting the functionality of adrenal glands. It also maintains optimum hormonal levels.
Another big draw health benefit-wise is that matcha, like green tea, is loaded with antioxidants. A study, published in 2014, found the plant also had antimicrobial properties, particularly the four types of catechins (antioxidant properties flavonoids) it contains, against a few different types of microorganisms. Yet another study, published in Nature, proved that catechins inhibit the growth of a bacteria called Fusobacterium nucleatum — the bacteria that causes cavities and periodontal disease.
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.
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.
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.
To cut down on aches and pains, try to sip four cups of green tea a day. The tea contains quercetin, a chemical compound that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In a recent study conducted at Case Western Reserve University, researchers gave mice the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day, then gave them a substance that would normally produce rheumatoid arthritis. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than mice that drank water. According to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who drank more than three cups of tea a day were 60 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than non tea drinkers. Other research has found that tea’s polyphenols—antioxidant properties—are also anti-inflammatory and improve arthritis-related immune responses. Did you know other teas also act as natural home remedies for arthritis pain?
Basic green and black teas are rich in antioxidants (and matcha green tea is more than 100 times higher in one powerful antioxidant)—the secret behind boosting your natural cleansing process. “Antioxidants work to reduce the oxidative stress and free radicals in our body, too much of which can cause chronic inflammation and even mutate our DNA strains, leading to cancer and other chronic diseases,” says Villacorta.
This ceremonial tea drinking was taken up with a fervor by Japan’s samurai class. The samurai were fearsome warriors yet cultured and high ranking members of Japanese caste society. The samurai identity was built on Zen Buddhism, practicing principles like discipline, ritual, and purification. It is said the samurai developed the Japanese tea ceremony into an art form and cultural tradition by adding hundreds of detailed steps to the practice, including specific hand movements, the proper design of the tea room, and instructions for how to sit and how to prepare and sip the tea. It is also said the tea ceremony was integral to samurai training, helping the warriors sharpen their focus, concentration, and patience in preparation for battle.
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.
A book written by Lu Yu in 600-900 AD (Tang Dynasty), "Tea Classic" (simplified Chinese: 茶经; traditional Chinese: 茶經; pinyin: chájīng), is considered important in green tea history. The Kissa Yojoki (喫茶養生記 Book of Tea), written by Zen priest Eisai in 1211, describes how drinking green tea may affect five vital organs, the shapes of tea plants, flowers and leaves, and how to grow and process tea leaves.
It is used in castella, manjū, and monaka; as a topping for shaved ice (kakigōri); mixed with milk and sugar as a drink; and mixed with salt and used to flavour tempura in a mixture known as matcha-jio. It is also used as flavouring in many Western-style chocolates, candy, and desserts, such as cakes and pastries (including Swiss rolls and cheesecake), cookies, pudding, mousse, and green tea ice cream. Matcha frozen yogurt is sold in shops and can be made at home using Greek yogurt. The Japanese snack Pocky has a matcha-flavoured version. Matcha may also be mixed into other forms of tea. For example, it is added to genmaicha to form what is called matcha-iri genmaicha (literally, roasted brown rice and green tea with added matcha).
Culinary grade: Culinary grade matcha has a more robust, astringent flavor that can stand up to other ingredients its paired with. It may include ground leaves that still had some stems and veins attached, it may be a slightly duller green than ceremonial grade, and it may often include a mix of matcha powder from several sources. Culinary grade can still be whisked into tea and sipped; in fact, it’s a great matcha to mix with milk for lattes or spirits for cocktails. It’s also a bit less expensive so it’s more affordable to stock as a cooking ingredient.
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.
Green tea contains significant amounts of flavonoids, antioxidants that protect against heart disease by slowing the breakdown of LDL cholesterol, preventing blood clots, and improving blood vessel function. The benefits of green tea also include associations with lower cholesterol and lower rates of artery blockages. People who drink a cup or two a day have a 46 percent lower risk of developing narrowed arteries. Upping that to three cups a day lowers the risk of having a heart attack by 43 percent and of dying from a heart attack by 70 percent. It can even help prevent a second heart attack. In a study of 1,900 patients recovering from heart attacks at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, the death rate among patients who drank at least two cups of tea a day was 44 percent lower than among non-tea drinkers.