A juniper berry is not a true berry, but is a seed cone with unusually fleshy and merged scales that give it a berry-like appearance. Used as a spice in European cuisine, juniper berry has been used in traditional herbal medicine to support kidney and urinary tract function, as well as to help maintain healthy blood pressure levels that are already within the normal range. The essential oil can be stimulating to the kidneys. The warming and bitter properties support digestion and can soothe intestinal gas. Juniper berry can also be warming for the joints.


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.

Gardenias were originally found only in China and Japan, but today there are over 200 different species of gardenia, mostly hybrids, throughout the world. Gardenia fruit is used extensively in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), where it is known as zhi zi. TCM uses gardenia primarily to promote calm, but it is also used to support bladder and urinary tract health.
When I was conducting research into South Africa’s native herbs, I was served rooibos everywhere I went. Red in the cup, fragrant to the nose and pleasing to the palate, rooibos soon became a favorite. In every meeting, I looked forward to that red tea, which is one of the only native herbs of South Africa to achieve significant commercial status.  My wife and I keep it in the tea cupboard at home, and we often turn to rooibos when we want a cup of tea without caffeine.

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?
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.)
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.

Green tea leaves are initially processed by soaking in an alcohol solution, which may be further concentrated to various levels; byproducts of the process are also packaged and used. Extracts may be sold in liquid, powder, capsule, or tablet form.[4] Decaffeinated versions are also available.[9] Green tea extract supplements are accessible over the counter in various forms.[10]
There are mixed opinions about how much green tea one should consume. The reality is one cup of green tea isn’t enough to affect your health. Some believe 2 cups of green tea will show benefits while others say 5. Some people say up to 10 cups is ideal but if you’re concerned about spending a lot of time in the bathroom you can add a green tea supplement to your diet.
Light and crisp, Rooibos can be sweetened or un-sweetened, with or without other flavors. I sometimes make a cup of rooibos tea and add lemonade, which complements the tea nicely. Companies like Numi, Traditional Medicinals and Republic of Tea all offer rooibos teas, and the company Roobie Red makes a delicious bottled rooibos tea with other natural flavors added. Kids love it, and they don’t even notice they’re drinking something uber-healthy.

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.


Prior to use, the matcha often is forced through a sieve in order to break up clumps. There are special sieves available for this purpose, which usually are stainless steel and combine a fine wire mesh sieve and a temporary storage container. A special wooden spatula is used to force the tea through the sieve, or a small, smooth stone may be placed on top of the sieve and the device shaken gently.
“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.

Jump up ^ Serban C, Sahebkar A, Antal D, Ursoniu S, Banach M (September 2015). "Effects of supplementation with green tea catechins on plasma C-reactive protein concentrations: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials". Nutrition (Systematic review & meta-analysis). 31 (9): 1061–71. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2015.02.004. PMID 26233863.


“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.
And not all the science has been favorable to tea. A report in the March 1 edition of The New England Journal of Medicine looking at green tea consumption in humans, found no effect on stomach cancers once adjustments were made for other factors that could affect risk. Those other factors included sex, age, history of stomach ulcer, use of tobacco or alcohol, and other dietary habits.
I should note that I am currently deployed and have little access to the facilities to make a great cup of tea. One of the great things about matcha however is that you need only a blender bottle and ice and you have a perfect iced matcha for the Iraq heat. Let me tell you, nothing like the grassy, subtly sweet taste to get your morning started right. PT? Matcha. Drills? Matcha. conducting a firefight with Islamic State extremists? Hasn't happened yet, but if it happened I can tell you that I would have my Hydroflask filled with this stuff and engage them with the calm energy of the vegan, philosophy major, Prius-driving, non-binary person I am.
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.
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.
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.
Cynthia Sass is a nutritionist and registered dietitian with master's degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she's Health's contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the New York Yankees MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Cynthia is a three time New York Times best selling author, and her brand new book is Slim Down Now: Shed Pounds and Inches with Real Food, Real Fast. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
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.
One thing to watch out for in detox teas, though, is a common ingredient—and herbal laxative—senna. “One part of detoxing is the cleansing of the intestines, and senna aids this process,” he explains. While it can be helpful as a night-time drink short-term, taking senna for too long can cause vomiting, diarrhea, electrolyte imbalance, and dehydration. If you feel stopped up, incorporate a senna tea for a few nights (Villacorta recommends Traditional Medicinals Organic Smooth Move). But stick to senna-free varieties for your habitual cup.
Gyokurocha: In this variety, the tea leaves are plucked from the tip of the branches. When brewed, the color is clear green. Being picked from the tip, this variety has the best taste and fragrance, and this variety is also considered the best in terms of health. Furthermore, it is less bitter, as it contains lesser tannin and caffeine since the plucked leaves are younger and still budding. The only drawback to gyokurocha is the high cost, but as we all know, truly high-quality solutions for health never come cheap!
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.
Drinking green tea and matcha are considered healthy and safe, but people sensitive to caffeine should be aware that both contain decent amounts of the stimulant. In 2016, the World Health Organization also linked the consumption of hot drinks, like coffee and tea, to a higher risk of cancer of the esophagus. However, the risk is much lower than the risk of cancer from other causes, like smoking.

The most popular, widely consumed types of green teas hail from the places where green tea originated: China and Japan. Green teas from China and Japan have different flavor profiles based on where and how they are grown, but most distinctively how they are processed—pan fired in China and steamed in Japan. Other countries producing green tea typically take cues from China or Japan and adopt one of these country’s tea production styles.


• One Chinese study found that men who drank more than three cups of tea a day reduced their risk of prostate cancer by 70 percent. In another study funded by the National Institute of Health, 79 men with prostate cancer were told to either drink 6 cups of green tea a day or 6 cups of water. After 3 to 8 weeks, the levels of prostate-specific antigen, a protein that may indicate cancer, were lower in the men who drank green tea than those who drank water. An indicator of inflammation, nuclear factor-kappaB, linked to cancer growth, was also lower in the men who drank the green tea.
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