The many well-researched health benefits of green tea make it a great beverage to include in your diet for the prevention and treatment of cancer, heart problems, cardiovascular diseases, high cholesterol levels, rheumatoid arthritis, infection, tooth decay, and many others. Green tea contains an antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which is also helpful in treating a variety of diseases.
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.
Matcha or maccha is a finely ground, bright emerald-green tea powder with the scientific name Camellia sinensis. It is prepared from a high-quality shade-grown leaf known as tencha. The tea bushes are sheltered to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows down the growth of plants. This provides the leaves with a darker shade of green and stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids.
Day 1: So you’re supposed to drink your tea first thing in the morning (or before a workout), but I didn’t receive my package until after arriving home for the day (in the early evening). Since I am a slave to my own desire for instant gratification, I said “Screw the rules!” and made my first cup right then and there. Immediate observation: It’s actually pretty delicious. I don’t consider myself a tea connoisseur by any means, so I was pleasantly surprised. I didn’t think it needed the recommended addition of honey.
“Red tea” is the name the Chinese use for what we in the west call “black tea.” All true tea comes from the same plant, Camellia sinensis. The differences between types of tea result from different methods of processing the leaves. For green tea, the tea leaves are steamed, rolled and dried, a method that preserves the content of polyphenols, antioxidant compounds that confer the well-known health benefits of tea. For black tea, the leaves undergo a process of oxidation that changes the color and flavor and reduces the content of polyphenols. Oolong is intermediate between green and black tea – in color, flavor and polyphenol content.
Green tea is considered one of the world's healthiest drinks and contains one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any tea. Natural chemicals called polyphenols in tea are what are thought to provide its anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects. Green tea is approximately 20-45 percent polyphenols by weight, of which 60-80 percent are catechins such as EGCG. Catechins are antioxidants that are said to help prevent cell damage.
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The next morning, I had a bagel and one daily tea, as instructed. I felt my stomach become uneasy as most stomachs do when they’re working their “digestive magic.” Suddenly, the worst cramp of my life hit me out of nowhere. It was the sharpest PANG I’ve ever felt as it made its way from my stomach to my chest. As a reflex, I jumped up. That’s when I felt another wave of pain and swiftly made my way to the restroom.
Apart from causing premature aging, free radicals are also responsible for causing certain types of cancer. The catechins present in green tea neutralize these free radicals, prevent the formation of carcinogens like nitrosamines and reduce the risk of cancer for people who regularly consume it. Green tea is now being clinically used and prescribed as a home remedy to aid in the prevention of cancer, particularly for those patients at high risk for cancer in the colon, rectum, pancreas, and intestines.
Because you’re consuming whole leaves in matcha, you may get three times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea, about the amount in a cup of brewed coffee. Matcha aficionados say that compared to the caffeine buzz from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm” due to a natural substance it contains called l-theanine, which induces relaxation without drowsiness. Still, I do believe it’s best to nix all forms of caffeine (including matcha) at least six hours before bedtime, to ensure a good night’s sleep.
The Japanese tea ceremony, still called The Way of Tea, is a revered practice in Japan and is centered around the art of preparing and presenting matcha in an almost meditative fashion. It was originally developed as a spiritual practice and the principals of the practice—harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility—are still central to tea ceremony today.
“Specific detox teas offer added benefits in the additional ingredients,” says Villacorta. Herbs like lemongrass, ginger, dandelion, and milk thistle all contain properties said to support a healthy liver, one of those organs in charge of your natural detoxifying process. Ginger has also been proven to alleviate oxidative stress within the liver, which indirectly helps the organ perform its cleaning task more efficiently, he says.
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.
Unsweetened brewed green tea is a zero calorie beverage. The caffeine contained in a cup of tea can vary according to the length of infusing time and the amount of tea infused. In general, green tea contains a relatively small amount of caffeine (approximately 20-45 milligrams per 8 ounce cup), compared with black tea, which contains about 50 milligrams and coffee with 95 milligrams per cup.
^ Jump up to: a b Zhang C, Qin YY, Wei X, Yu FF, Zhou YH, He J (February 2015). "Tea consumption and risk of cardiovascular outcomes and total mortality: a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective observational studies". Eur J Epidemiology (Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis). 30 (2): 103–13. doi:10.1007/s10654-014-9960-x. PMID 25354990.
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.
Being a green tea, matcha does contain caffeine and in higher levels than other green teas. Because the entire leaf is used, matcha tea can contain nearly as much caffeine as a cup of coffee. However, caffeine release is believed to be slower because you are drinking the entire leaf. This slower release of caffeine reduces “caffeine jitters” that coffee or other teas can cause.
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.
Because matcha is prone to clumping (that’s why you’ll see instructions to sift it before whisking in the water or milk), you’ll want to take the same precaution in your baking experiments: Saffitz suggests combining the matcha with other dry ingredients like sugar or flour to avoid bitter lumps in your dough or batter. And use it sparingly, she suggests: Even a few teaspoons can create an intense flavor (and color).
On 17 June 2011, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, France, radioactive cesium of 1,038 becquerels per kilogram was measured in tea leaves imported from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan as a result of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster on 11 March, which was more than twice the restricted amount in the European Union of 500 becquerels per kilogram. The government of France announced that they rejected the leaves, which totaled 162 kilograms (357 lb).
Shade grown: All matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves—a labor-intensive process where tea bushes are protected from the sun and light is filtered to the bushes in a very controlled manor. Shading boosts the chlorophyll production in the plant, giving the leaves a rich green color. The lack of sun reduces the plant’s photosynthesis of the leaves, which in turn alters the naturally occurring levels of caffeine, flavanols, sugars, antioxidants, and theanine. By controlling the sun exposure, tea producers can significantly alter the chemical make-up and flavor of the final tea leaves.