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.
Research also shows that green tea lowers total cholesterol, improving the overall cholesterol profile. One population-based clinical study found that men who drink green tea are more likely to have lower total cholesterol than those who do not drink green tea. Other clinical studies that look at populations of people indicate that the antioxidant properties of green tea may help prevent atherosclerosis, particularly coronary artery disease. The benefits also seem to extend to preventing stroke, reducing high blood pressure, and inhibiting the formation of blood clots. Much of the effect may also be due to the ability of green tea to help lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
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.
Dr Nortier cultivated the first plants at Clanwilliam on his farm Eastside and on the farm Klein Kliphuis. The tiny seeds were very difficult to come by. Dr Nortier paid the local villagers £5 per matchbox of seeds collected. An aged Khoi woman found an unusual seed source: having chanced upon ants dragging seed, she followed them back to their nest and, on breaking it open, found a granary. Dr. Nortier's research was ultimately successful and he subsequently showed all the local farmers how to germinate their own seeds. The secret lay in scarifying the seed pods. Dr Nortier placed a layer of seeds between two mill stones and ground away some of the seed pod wall. Thereafter the seeds were easily propagated. Over the next decade the price of seeds soared to an astounding £80 a pound, the most expensive vegetable seed in the world, as farmers rushed to plant rooibos. Today, the seed is gathered by special sifting processes. Dr Nortier is today accepted as the father of the rooibos tea industry. Thanks to his research, rooibos tea became an iconic national beverage and then a globalised commodity. Rooibos tea production is today the economic mainstay of the Clanwilliam district. In 1948 The University of Stellenbosch awarded Dr Nortier an Honorary Doctorate D.Sc (Agria) in recognition for his valuable contribution to South African agriculture.
It depends not only on the processing method the tea producers use, but also on the cultivation practices the tea growers use. What time of year is the tea plucked? How is the plant pruned? What parts of the plant are plucked? Are the plants treated with chemicals or are they organically grown? What kind of heat is applied to the tea leaves to stop oxidation? How are the tea leaves shaped, rolled and dried? Are the leaves left whole or cut in smaller pieces?
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.
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".
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.
For centuries, burdock has been used therapeutically in parts of Asia, Europe, and North America. A known diuretic, it stimulates digestion and can be used to treat kidney and liver ailments. Research has shown that compounds in the root contain antidiabetic and antioxidant qualities, and it also helps to promote blood circulation on the skin’s surface, which improves skin texture and helps to prevent eczema.
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.
It isn’t difficult to live the high antioxidant lifestyle, taking in foods, herbs and teas that will protect your body in many ways, reduce the risk of various chronic and degenerative diseases and make you feel good. As Hippocrates remarked in his credo “Let thy food be thy medicine.” Drink Rooibos for taste or drink it for health. In either case, you’ll derive innumerable benefits.
Additionally, rooibos is a source of two comparatively rare antioxidants, aspalathin and nothofagin. Aspalathin helps to modify hormones in the body and reduces the output of adrenal hormones specifically, thus reducing stress and helping to inhibit metabolic disorders. Aspalathin also helps to regulate blood sugar and therefore can play a role in reducing the risk of Type 2 diabetes and excessive fat production. The antioxidant nothofagin also demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory activity and, along with aspalathin, may help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Both appear to protect nerves.
Sejak (세작; 細雀; lit. "thin sparrow"), or dumul-cha (두물차; lit. "second flush tea"), is made of hand-picked leaves plucked after gogu (20–21 April) but before ipha (5–6 May). The tea is also called jakseol (작설; 雀舌; lit. "sparrow tongue") as the tea leaves are plucked when they are about the size of a sparrow's tongue. The ideal steeping temperature for sejak tea is 60–70 °C (140–158 °F).
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 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.