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.
Unlike traditional green tea, matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder.
The first early harvest of tea, plucked before the first flush, is called shincha. Shincha is made from the youngest new growth leaves, and is plucked from early April to early May. Shincha typically refers to the early harvest of sencha, but can refer to any type of tea plucked early in the season, before the main harvest. Because of the limited quantities in which it is produced, shincha is highly prized and expensive to obtain.
Green Tea comes from Camellia sinensis leaves that are immediately steamed or pan-fired rather than being exposed to air so that no oxidation occurs. This special handling makes for a more delicate brew that is typically lower in caffeine than black and Oolong teas. Although amounts vary, green teas are highest in polyphenols known as EGCG, which is why so many make it part of their healthy lifestyle.
The best Matcha Green Tea comes from the first flush, baby green tea leaves that grow during the spring. Only the newest buds of the shade grown tea plants are hand-picked for Premium Matcha production. The window for ideal Matcha Green Tea growth is very limited, which is one of the reasons that Matcha is one of the more expensive teas on the market.
One study that was published in the February 2010 issue of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry investigated the effects of catechins on eye diseases and found that consuming more catechins may help protect the eyes from oxidative damage and vision loss. Scientists involved in the study found evidence that catechins can pass from the digestive tract of rodents to the tissues of their eyes and reduce oxidative stress for up to 20 hours after ingestion. (11)
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.
In January 2015, we wrote about the rapid rise of matcha on the American beverage landscape and posed the question, “Have we reached maximum matcha saturation?” Three years later, we're living amid matcha croissants, matcha custard pie, matcha face masks, matcha lifestyle guides and $50 cups of matcha itself. Clearly, the answer was "No." But what is this powder we're whisking into green lattes, baking into doughnuts, blending into smoothies, and adding to our fish fillets?
The rich antioxidants present in matcha tea help in cancer prevention, improved mental alertness and clarity, detoxification, free radical scavenging activity, and stronger immune defense. Polyphenols and catechin-rich matcha promotes relaxation and contributes beneficially to prevention and treatment of various medical conditions. These include bacterial, fungal, and viral infections, cancer, and type-2 diabetes. Matcha tea also assists in maintaining cardiovascular health, gastrointestinal health, and works as a superb energy booster.
Even organically grown green teas have been shown to contain lead, which is absorbed by the plant from the environment, particularly tea grown in China. When traditional green tea is steeped, about 90% of the lead stays in the leaf, which is discarded. With matcha, since the whole leaf is consumed, you will ingest more lead. One independent group, ConsumerLab.com, which tested teas, estimates that a cup of matcha may contain as much as 30 times more lead than a cup of green tea. Therefore, they recommend drinking no more than one cup daily, and not serving it to children.
Like black and green tea, rooibos is rich in polyphenols, such as rutin and quercetin. Cell and animal studies, mostly from South Africa, have shown that rooibos extracts have antioxidant, immune-stimulating, and anti-cancer properties. But studies of rooibos tea in people are limited. There’s little or no evidence to back claims that it relieves constipation, headaches, eczema, asthma, insomnia, high blood pressure, mild depression, ulcers, diabetes, and so on.
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Total Tea Gentle Detox tastes great and is fast acting. Initially, you may have to go to the washroom frequently as the tea first cleanses the colon. After 2-3 days, bloating and any discomfort will disappear. You will also start to notice an improvement in your energy levels and productivity. And soon after, you will see visible changes in your appearance, get a flat tummy, and be highly motivated to eat and live healthily.
Tea plants that are specifically grown and used to make matcha are also typically shaded for two weeks to increase chlorophyll levels before the leaves are picked, further boosting concentration of healthy compounds. Matcha green tea tends to be more expensive than buying tea leaves for steeping, but a little goes a long way. Matcha is usually available in powder form and is a good choice for adding green tea’s taste and the benefits of green tea to recipes like smoothies, baked goods or ice cream.
We’re wary of any trend that involves detoxing with just a drink. By now, we’re all pretty aware that liquid diets can’t sustain our active bodies for very long, and most of the drinks celebrities swear by have little actual detoxifying effects. But a teatox, or tea detox or tea cleanse, is a gentler approach to the whole idea, namely because it involves adding a few herbal cups to your existing, healthy diet—instead of replacing meals entirely.
This is yet another powerful benefit of green tea. Astringent substances trigger contractions in muscles and tissues while toning up muscles and skin. Even if you do not wish to drink green tea, a simple, daily mouthwash with it can cause sufficient contraction in your gums to keep them firm and tight on the teeth, thus preventing loosening and loss of teeth. You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel it grow stronger and healthier every day.
The claims of weight loss within 14 days has worked for many users. V tea T-tox 14 Day Detox Tea works by boosting the body’s metabolism and suppressing appetite. Since it doesn’t have the natural laxative of senna leaves, you will be not be rushing to the washroom frequently. So, it is completely safe to take this tea to work or school for consumption later in the day.
Generally, the leaves undergo an oxidation (often termed "fermentation" in common tea processing terminology). This process produces the distinctive reddish-brown colour of rooibos and enhances the flavour. Unoxidised "green" rooibos is also produced, but the more demanding production process for green rooibos (similar to the method by which green tea is produced) makes it more expensive than traditional rooibos. It carries a malty and slightly grassy flavour somewhat different from its red counterpart.
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.
Matcha is green tea that has been specially grown and processed. Twenty days before harvest, the leaves are shaded from direct sunlight, which amps up the chlorophyll levels (and accounts for that Kermit green color) and increases the production of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is thought to promote relaxation even as the tea gives you a caffeine jolt. The leaves are hand-picked and laid out to dry. Once they are rid of their veins and stems, they’re stone-ground into what is finally matcha.
Red rooibos tea is rich in calcium, manganese, and fluoride minerals that assist in maintaining good bone structure and stronger teeth. By increasing the bioavailability of minerals in your system, you can reduce your chances of developing conditions like arthritis, osteoporosis, and chronic joint pain. Manganese actually works on a deeper level and stimulates the enzymes which are required to build new bones and repair damages.
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Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert yet calm. Modern science has recently confirmed the lessons of centuries of tradition. Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that actually promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brains functioning. While stress can induce beta waves an excited, more agitated state, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas.
Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. While seemingly unimaginable, that’s exactly what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a fraction of green teas benefits. The majority actually remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. In reality, the only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But that doesn’t mean you need to start eating tea leaves. The simplest solution is to just enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is straight, stoneground tea leaves, matcha provides you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.
Rooibos tea is the best herbal tea in the world. I am an avid coffee and black tea drinker who has to give up the caffeine. I have never been an herbal tea fan so my search began for something that would satisfy my taste buds.This is it. Rooibos tea is flavorful, dark in color and is quite satisfying. It has substance and body, unlike most herbal teas I have tried. I went through the process of slowly reducing my caffeine intake over a period of 10 days so as not to suffer from withdrawals. I now am completely off the caffeine and enjoy brewing Rooibos tea in my coffee maker ( which I thoroughly cleansed with a water and vinegar solution.) I like the My Red Tea brand because it is a family oriented and socially conscious brand; 10% of their profits support education in our Rooibos farming communities. They made their first donation to a school for farm-workers in September 2016. They strive to use packaging and processes that have the least impact on the environment. They are very careful to pick suppliers who support their values and care just as much about our world and its inhabitants as they do.
Rooibos (pronounced ROY-boss) appears to be matching -- and possibly besting -- the health benefits claimed for other more established teas. A favorite among South Africans for years, the beverage is said by some to have 50% more antioxidants than are found in green tea. Antioxidants are the organic substances believed to scavenge "free radicals," the toxic by-product of natural biological processes that can damage cells and lead to cancer.
Green tea, however, is considered to have originated in China. It is said that even today the word “tea” in China refers only to green tea, not to the general category of tea as it does in the West. China’s Yunnan province is considered to be the original home of the Camellia sinensis plant species. In fact, 260 of the world’s 380+ varieties of tea can be found in Yunnan.