Instead of being rolled, shaped and dried like traditional green tea leaves, the leaves destined to become Matcha are laid flat to dry. Grinding the leaves into Matcha is a slow process. If the mill stones overheat, the delicate green tea leaves might become damaged, which alters the flavor and taste. For reference, it takes about one hour to grind 30g of Matcha.
But ConsumerLab.com’s testing has found that even if lead is found in the leaves used in green tea bags, it doesn’t appear to be absorbed into the water. Cooperman says his team was concerned about lead content in matcha, because people consume the ground green tea leaves directly rather than in bags. However, their testing showed that among the six popular matcha brands they tested—DoMatcha, Encha Organic Matcha, Rishi Teahouse Matcha, Teavana Imperial Matcha, Kirkland Signature Green Tea and The Republic of Tea Double Green Matcha Tea—the powders were not contaminated by lead or other metals, and also did not contain pesticides. As of now, Cooperman says he doesn’t believe lead exposure is a risk in the matcha currently sold in the United States.
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.
Neither red nor black tea is to be confused with Rooibos, often called “Red Bush Tea” or “Rea Tea” for short. Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a South African plant that is a member of the legume family and is not related to the tea plant (Camellia sinensis). Rooibos has a very different taste and feel than red (or black!) tea, it is much sweeter and lighter than black tea, although it is often mixed with sugar and cream or a lemon as you might find heavy black tea drinking countries such as England or the United States.
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.
Matcha is hot with chefs, not just as a beverage, but as an ingredient in both sweet and savory dishes. If you Google matcha recipes, you’ll find everything from matcha muffins, brownies and puddings, to matcha soup, stir frys, and even matcha guacamole! I love experimenting with it, and in a previous post I wrote about the potential weight loss benefits of umami foods (The Surprising Food Flavor That Can Help You Shed Pounds). But due to concerns about lead, I recommend avoiding “matcha madness.” Even with superfoods, you can get too much of a good thing (check out my article 4 Superfoods You Might Be Overeating). So look for pure, organic, quality matcha, and enjoy it in moderation.
Matcha powder and hot water should be whisked together. It’s recommended that you use a tea strainer to sift the matcha into a bowl to avoid clumps. Then, add warm water and whisk it. (Traditionally this is done with a called a bamboo whisk called a chasen.) The whisking creates a foamy tea that can be poured into your cup. Some people add the powder to other hot liquids, like milk, to make a bright green latte. Here’s a video of how to make traditional matcha tea.
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?
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Matcha is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder. The powder is then whisked with hot water. This is different from regular green tea, where the leaves are infused in water, then removed. Drinking brewed green tea “is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water,” says Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha and co-owner of the tea company teapigs. “You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.” With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves.
Grown under shade for three weeks prior to plucking, gyokuro is one of the most exclusive varieties of tea produced in Japan. The shading technique imparts a sweeter flavor, and produces a particularly rich color thanks to the higher amounts of chlorophyll in the shaded leaf. Gyokuro tea is associated with the Uji region, the first tea-growing region in Japan. It is often made using smaller-leaf cultivars of the tea plant.
According to a study published in the journal Chinese Medicine, many of the beneficial biological effects of flavonoids on heart health seem to be due to cell-signaling effects that lower inflammation. (6) Not only do flavonoids have anti-inflammatory capabilities, but they’re also antithrombogenic, antidiabetic, anticancer and neuroprotective compounds.
Matcha comes in several grades that aren’t officially regulated, but the most important distinction is between ceremonial and culinary grade matcha. Ceremonial grade is made from the youngest, most tender tea leaves and is smooth and fine in texture. Use it when you’re planning to drink pure, unadulterated matcha or a top-notch latte. Culinary matcha is a less expensive and made from comparatively older leaves. It is best for baking, cooking, or making blended drinks where the matcha flavor is not imperative. (“Premium” or “select” matcha is somewhere in between the two major grades, and you can find organic versions of matcha in each category.)
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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.