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Matcha (抹茶, Japanese pronunciation pronounced [mat.tɕa], English /ˈmætʃə/[i]) is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine. The powdered form of matcha is consumed differently from tea leaves or tea bags, and is dissolved in a liquid, typically water or milk.
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.
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.
Other Risks: Long-term consumption, in excessive quantities, may give rise to problems such as insomnia, restlessness, annoyance, irritability, headaches, hypertension, abnormal heartbeat, loss of appetite, spasms, constipation, and acute addiction to caffeine. Many times, people who are addicted to caffeine do not feel normal without the substance and suffer from acute constipation, irritation, and lack of concentration in the absence of green tea.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves that also are used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest and may last up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight.[better source needed] This slows down growth, stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of amino acids, in particular theanine. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled up before drying as in the production of sencha, the result will be gyokuro (jade dew) tea. If the leaves are laid out flat to dry, however, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha (碾茶). Then, tencha may be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone-ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha.[better source needed]
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. Decaffeinated versions are also available. Green tea extract supplements are accessible over the counter in various forms.
An animal study published in 2009 in “Phytomedicine” found that green rooibos tea helped regulate glucose metabolism, preventing increases in fasting blood glucose levels during the course of the five-week study. This effect is a result of aspalathin, a compound found in green rooibos. Poor glucose tolerance and high fasting glucose levels are signs of type-2 diabetes and are common in obesity. The study suggests rooibos tea may help keep blood glucose levels in check, preventing sharp spikes and falls that can trigger symptoms of hunger and possibly leading to lower calorie consumption.
So what are the best detox teas to choose? If you’re really focused on a start-and-stop teatox (rather than just incorporating detox teas into your diet), check out programs like SkinnyMe Tea, which offers 14- or 28-day packages of high-quality, loose-leaf herbs to steep. Or save a little cash and try one of these four off-the-shelf detoxifying varieties, recommended by Lagano and Villacorta.
Scientists have also discovered that the antioxidants flavonoids may also protect the brain from oxidative stress. The scientists extrapolated that a human would need to drink about three liters of liquid infused with 0.5 percent of the catechins to get similar effects. However, because humans ingest other antioxidants in the form of vitamins and plant polyphenols, it’s likely that a much lower quantity could be effective in protecting memory.
Green tea has many health benefits. “It contains many nutrients, including antioxidants and anti-cancer and brain-healthy compounds,” Smith reminds us. One thing is for sure: regardless of whether or not you’ll shed pounds with green tea, drink it anyway. “All teas contain many healthful nutrients; it’s one of the healthier choices for a beverage!” Smith says.
Cardiovascular diseases, which lump heart disease, stroke, and other diseases of the heart and blood vessels caused by atherosclerosis and hypertension (high blood pressure) into one category, are the most prevalent causes of death in the world. Studies show that green tea can improve some of the main risk factors for these diseases, which includes helping regulate total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. One method by which green tea might help: it significantly increases the antioxidant levels of your blood, protecting LDL cholesterol particles from oxidation—one of the causes of heart disease.
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.
Does green tea really burn fat, and will drinking green tea help you lose more weight? According to some research findings, consuming antioxidants found in green tea, especially catechins and the compound called EGCG, may promote metabolic health and modestly prevent weight gain. When 11 studies and articles were included in one 2009 meta-analysis that was published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers found that “catechins or an epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)-caffeine mixture have a small positive effect on weight loss and weight maintenance.” (12)
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.
The polyphenols in green tea, which include multiple subcategories of polyphenols like flavonoids and catechins, can reduce the formation of free radicals in the body, protecting cells, molecules, and other structures from damage. One of the most active and powerful antioxidant polyphenols in green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been studied to treat a wide variety of diseases and may be one of the main reasons green tea has such powerful medicinal properties. Beyond EGCG, other polyphenol catechins in green tea include catechin, gallocatechin, epicatechin, epigallocatechin, and epicatechin gallate.
Detox teas that combine caffeine with diuretics can trigger the loss of water weight. Just two cups of water weighs one pound on a scale, so shedding fluid can make you look and feel lighter–even if you haven't lost an ounce of body fat. Detox teas can also trigger a laxative effect, which causes your body to eliminate waste from your GI tract, another result that can make your stomach flatter, and allow you to feel lighter, even if your lean-to-fat ratio remains exactly the same. If this quick-fix effect gives you the confidence boost and motivation you need to start eating healthier and working out–the real keys to getting healthy and lean–terrific (assuming the teas are even safe to drink–see below). Just remember: If you go back to your former less-than-stellar eating or exercise habits, or stop drinking the tea, you can gain the weight right back just as quick as you dropped it.
Japanese green teas have a thin, needle-like shape and a rich, dark green color. Unlike Chinese teas, most Japanese teas are produced by steaming rather than pan firing. This produces their characteristic color, and creates a sweeter, more grassy flavor. A mechanical rolling/drying process then dries the tea leaves into their final shape. The liquor of steamed Japanese tea tends to be cloudy due to the higher quantity of dissolved solids.
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.
If you’re not sure if matcha will become a daily ritual, editor at large Christine Muhlke recommends buying a tin within the $14 to $18 range (save the under $10 matcha for baking and the over $30 for when you’re ready to commit). Some of Muhlke’s favorite brands are Chalait, Panatea, Matchaful, Kettl, and CAP Beauty, and Ippodo (seasonal releases are available at their Manhattan storefront on East 39th Street).
Most detox teas contain caffeine, probably because this stimulant may suppress appetite, trigger your digestive system to let go of waste, and help you shed water weight. A caffeine-induced energy boost may also lead to working out a little longer or harder than usual. However, too much caffeine can also be risky (see above) and interfere with getting enough sleep–and catching too few zzzs may ultimately undo the tea's weight-loss effects. In fact, too little shuteye has been shown to trigger excessive eating and weight gain and even slow metabolism, which can make it easier to gain weight even if you don't eat extra calories. A good rule of thumb, regardless of where your caffeine is coming from, is to nix it at least six hours before bed. And if you're trying to shed pounds, commit to making adequate sleep a top priority.