A study suggests that theanine found in matcha tea acts as a neurotransmitter. It exerts a calming effect on the brain without causing any drowsiness. This soothing effect helped the Buddhist monks in maintaining deep concentration during their meditation sessions and was the main reason behind its popularity. Another study has revealed the anti-stress effects of theanine present in this tea, which assists in reducing the physiological and psychological stress responses by inhibiting the neuron excitation. Matcha tea is also believed to boost memory and concentration.
Several varieties of green tea exist, which differ substantially based on the variety of C. sinensis used, growing conditions, horticultural methods, production processing, and time of harvest. Although there has been considerable research on the possible health effects of consuming green tea regularly, there is little evidence that drinking green tea has any effects on health.
In 1772, Swedish naturalist Carl Thunberg noted, "the country people made tea" from a plant related to rooibos or redbush. Traditionally, the local people would climb the mountains and cut the fine, needle-like leaves from wild rooibos plants. They then rolled the bunches of leaves into hessian bags and brought them down the steep slopes using donkeys. The leaves were then chopped with axes and bruised with hammers, before being left to dry in the sun.
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.
Matcha leaves are grown on green tea bushes kept under shade. The shade increases the amount of chlorophyll content in the leaves, which is what makes them bright green and full of nutrients. The leaves are picked by hand and the stems and veins are removed. According to Cheadle, the leaves are traditionally ground by granite stones into a super fine powder. “It takes an hour to grind the leaves, and it’s done in the dark to protect the nutrients,” she says.
The oldest tea producing region in Japan is Uji, located near the former capital of Kyoto. It is thought that seeds sent by Eisai were planted in Uji, becoming the basis of the tea industry there. Today, Japan's most expensive premium teas are still grown in Uji. The largest tea producing area today is Shizuoka Prefecture, which accounts for 40% of total Japanese sencha production. Other major tea producing regions include the island of Kyushu and the prefectures of Shiga, Gifu, and Saitama in central Honshu.
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.