Day 28: Honesty time — I took several days off. I went away for the long weekend, and I overindulged in Mexican food, wine tastings, and cherry ice cream. When I got home, I was nursing an exhausted body and a bad case of bloat. The solution? To drink my final cup of tea. After drinking it, I went to bed feeling refreshed and lighter, then woke up the next morning ready for a workout and a day back at work.
Since green tea is less oxidized than its black tea cousin, it is technically fresher and more delicate, so it should be consumed more quickly for maximum flavor. Green tea is best consumed within six months to a year of purchase. You should also take care to store your green tea in a cool, dark place, away from light, oxygen, moisture and fragrant pantry companions like coffee or spices.
Ceremonial grade: This is the highest quality used mainly in tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples. This is stone-ground into a powder by granite stone mills. It is high-quality and expensive (~$100–140 for 100g). The unschooled drinker is unlikely to notice a large difference between Ceremonial and Premium grade. Ceremonial is characterized by subtle tones of "umami".
Basically, tea time may not be for you. I know we all want “quick results,” but instead a gradual change in diet is best. Since my last tea scare, I’ve actually gotten accustomed to simply eating better. Stuff like eliminating dairy has helped with my “fupa” (lower belly pudge), and overall bloat. Limiting my red meat intake has also helped. Leaner meats like turkey, chicken breast and egg whites have helped me keep inches off and feel more energized.
In China though, the term black tea or dark tea typically refers to a tea that we call Pu-erh in the United States. This tea is fermented anywhere between 2 weeks to two months and then aged for 2 months to 20+ years in order to create dark black leaves and a dark color to the brew. In this fermentation process the leaves are intentionally kept damp to encourage good microbes and bacteria to slowly oxidize and ferment the leaves. This is distinguished from red tea which typically only takes about 6-10 hours to oxidize. Pu-erh tea typically has a strong fermentation taste but high quality pu-erh should not taste overly earthy as this is a sign of low quality production techniques.
The use of matcha in modern drinks has also spread to North American cafés, such as Starbucks, which introduced "Green Tea Lattes" and other matcha-flavoured drinks after matcha became successful in their Japanese store locations. As in Japan, it has become integrated into lattes, iced drinks, milkshakes, and smoothies. A number of cafes have introduced lattes and iced drinks using matcha powder. It has also been incorporated into alcoholic beverages such as liqueurs and matcha green tea beers.
From the 3rd century through the 6th century, green tea was mostly considered a “luxury item” before new techniques for drying and distributing green tea led to more mass production and availability among the public. According to the Teavivre, a tea company, during the time of the Song Dynasty in China (AD 960–1279), “tea drinking had become an integral part of the daily life of all Chinese, in a similar way to how afternoon tea became ingrained in the English culture. The use and production of so-called ‘tribute teas’ — those produced to be presented to the emperor and other high officials — became an important part of royal culture and a source of government taxation.” (16)
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?
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.
In 2004, scientists at the University of Newcastle studied the effects of black and green tea on Alzheimer’s disease. In laboratory studies, both teas prevented the breakdown of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter strongly linked with memory. The teas also inhibited enzymes known as BuChE and beta-secretase. These enzymes are found in protein deposits found in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. (7)
It’s important to note that herbs can have powerful effects on the body when taken in large amounts, so use the tea as directed. Also, stay hydrated. Because several of these herbal ingredients are diuretics, your body will be losing fluids and you’ll be passing more urine than usual. It’s important to replenish the fluids within your body to avoid dehydration.
It’s become such a fashionable beverage that, last summer, the New York Post ran a story about how Victoria’s Secret models were flocking to Cha Cha Matcha, a hipster spot fluent in the preparation of various matcha-based miracle potions. A search for where to get “matcha” in New York, New York on Yelp yielded some 1400 plus results. Even mass market coffee purveyors like Starbucks have made matcha their mantra, with a vast range of offerings to cash in on the craze.