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!
Caffeine content: Matcha tea contains some amount of caffeine which may trigger allergic reactions. These reactions may include diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Caffeine can also cause drug interactions basis the amount consumed. If you are new to matcha and are unaware of its sensitivities, then it is always advisable to ensure natural vigilance while trying it for the first time.
While there are some published studies on various ingredients often found in detox teas, I haven't seen any research on the teas themselves, particularly in the precise formulas they're prescribed (that research isn't required for the teas to be sold, by the way). That means that using detox teas leaves unanswered questions about if and how they work, how they should be used, how much may be too much, and possibly who shouldn't use them. If you're unsure, or are planning to start drinking them, talk to your doctor, nutritionist, or health care provider. Just be sure he or she doesn't have a vested interest in the sale of the product you're considering: If they happen to be selling or endorsing it, seek a second opinion.
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.
The first green tea seeds and bushes were brought to Japan in the year 1191 A.D. by a Japanese Buddhist monk named Myoan Eisai when he returned from travels in China. The young priest used his experience growing and drinking green tea to popularize what he called “the way of tea” as a meditative ritual within his community of Japanese Buddhist monks. The custom of drinking Matcha tea quickly spread throughout Japan and rose in popularity after being accepted into the daily practice of the samurai.
Those magical catechins also have tons of potential in helping people with heart issues. “Catechins present in green tea have the ability to prevent atherosclerosis, hypertension, endothelial dysfunction, ischemic heart diseases, cardiomyopathy, cardiac hypertrophy and congestive heart failure by decreasing oxidative stress, preventing inflammatory events, reducing platelet aggregation and halting the proliferation of vascular smooth muscle cells,” explains the author of the study, published in the Chinese Journal of Natural Medicines.
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.
The polyphenols in green tea, which include multiple subcategories of polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells, molecules, and other structures from damage. One of the most active and powerful antioxidant polyphenols in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been studied to treat a wide variety of diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties. Beyond EGCG, other polyphenol catechins in green tea include catechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, and epicatechin gallate.
I really like this stuff! I"ve used green tea powder for smoothies for years and I find this brand to be effective at keeping sustained energy throughout the day. It has a very definitive taste to it, but it's easy to cover up if you don't like it. (I don't mind the taste, but my protein powder pretty much overwhelms it.) It's definitely worth trying for a more sustained, less jittery caffeine boost.
One study that was published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry investigated the effects of catechins on eye diseases and found that consuming more catechins may help protect the eyes from oxidative damage and vision loss. Scientists involved in the study found evidence that catechins can pass from the digestive tract of rodents to the tissues of their eyes and reduce oxidative stress for up to 20 hours after ingestion. (11)
Green tea also seems to boost physical performance, increase exercise endurance, and decrease reaction time, and there are many, many such studies showing these effects from caffeine, although other ingredients in green tea may aid this effect. Caffeine, and green tea’s, ability to mobilize fatty acids in fat tissue to make them more easily available for use as energy also seems to aid physical performance. In one study, caffeine was shown to significantly increase physical performance (exercise endurance and exertion). The antioxidants in green tea may also help prevent tissue damage during physical exertion as well.
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.