Not all tea is created equal- at all. Black, green, white and Oolong- all derived from the Camellia sinensis plant- even so, all processed differently.
Black tea is made from the leaves and fully fermented, which blackens the leaves and causes the formation of caffeine and tannins. Black tea contains the highest amount of caffeine but lowest amounts of anti oxidants.
White tea is made from the bud of the camellia sinensis plant and minimally processed by steaming, this reduces oxidation, retaining the natural antioxidants, and doesn’t contain much caffeine- which is exactly why we should embrace white tea a little more. High anti oxidants low caffeine.
Oolong– partial fermentation, followed by a process of bruising and shaking of the leaves. This gives Oolongs its distinct flavour. However, this will also give Oolong more caffeine and less anti oxidants.
Green tea is made from the leaves and is also steamed, however it has a small amount of unfavourable oxidation due to a short pan frying as a part of its processing. This gives green tea its unique sharp flavour. And high Epigallocatechin gallate content(EGCG). Sencha is the name of traditional Japanese green tea.
What sets Green tea in class of its own is the amino acid Theanine. Tea is the only plant that makes this amino acid and its Theanine that gives green tea its calmative quality by creating a mental state of alert calm by counter balancing the action of caffeine, enhancing concentration. Sounds perfect really- the hit of caffeine, yet calm.
Also derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis, however the leaves are ground into a fine powder. You do not steep or infuse the leaves as you would with regular tea, with Matcha tea you are actually drinking the entire leaf in a highly concentrated powdered form. Along with high amounts of selenium chromium zinc chlorophyll fibre and magnesium, Matcha will have your little cellular membranes buzzing!
1 cup of Matcha tea provides as many antioxidants as 10 cups of regular green tea! In fact, Matcha has extremely concentrated levels of anti oxidants. Anti oxidants are those polyphenols we love so much, those distinct properties of plants that give each plant its distinct medicinal benefits. As you know- Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is the major polyphenol /antioxidant found in green tea- with concentrations so high within Matcha tea, it provides more anti oxidant benefit than vitamin C or Vitamin E. EGCG has shown pronounced cardiovascular and metabolic health benefits with regular consumption. Inflammation for example. C- reactive protein is a marker of arterial inflammation- Inflammation is known to play a major role in heart disease, EGCG is a potent anti-inflammatory thus helping to assist in preventing inflammation.
Many studies show EGCG suppresses tumour promotion by inhibiting the release of a substance called tumour necrosis factor. TNF has been implicated in cancer and other inflammatory diseases. TNF is a cytokine that can cause death of tumour cells, and inhibition of viral replication, which are good things.
The problem is with unregulated TNF production. In chronic inflammatory conditions, TNF is produced in high, sustained amounts, which can cause problems – eg. Depression, fatigue, autoimmune disease. EGCG helps prevent this. Benefits have been seen in all cancers- especially breast lung colorectal and prostate. Journal of Nutrition 128(12):2334-40
Consumption of EGCG found in Matcha tea significantly increases the activity of antioxidant and detoxifying enzymes such as glutathione peroxidation, glutathione reductase, glutathione S-transferase, catalase and quinine reductase in the small intestine, liver and lungs. Sounds a bit technical – Glutathione Peroxidation, etc- but i want you to see those names to help you understand just how powerful EGCG is. Staying young- feeling youthful, there are a few keys to it and a diet full of antioxidants is up at the top of the list. Moving to a Blue Zone isn’t a possibility for everyone!
One last point id like to make amongst a seemingly endless list of benefits to the powerful Matcha Tea is Diabetes. EGCG regulates glucose in the body due to a slight inhibition on carbohydrate digesting enzymes. I will always include regular consumption of green, or even better- Match tea with all diabetic clients- particularly because of their increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
So how do you drink this powdery tea?
Traditionally, the Japanese will use a proper ceramic or clay bowl and bamboo whisk- As pictured here.
You will find these in any good tea store. You will find Matcha tea in health foods stores- it’s not hard to find once you know what you are looking for. It’s been there all along.
Matcha tea is not steeped in boiling water as traditional tea bags or leaves would be steeped. The powder needs to be whisked.Method:
- Place 1/2 a teaspoon of Match powder in your bowl.
- Add near boiling water- 80 degrees to be exact, if you have the ability to be exact with your water temp. But near boiling is the point- not boiling.
- Lightly whisk with a gentle action- this is not the same forceful whisk you would use to beat eggs by hand. The aim is not to allow to many bubbles in your tea. Bubbles in your Matcha tea are not seen as polite in traditional Japanese Matcha Tea, there is a gentle elegance to its preparation. Unlike regular tea- Matcha is meant to be sipped down in just 4 or 5 big gulps. Remember- Matcha tea is highly therapeutic and may not be as enjoyable as you normally find most teas, 4-5 big sips and its gone.
For now- you might want to slowly introduce Matcha into your diet in one of these many ways listed here:
- Add it to your morning smoothie
- Matcha cupcakes- gluten free of course
- Matcha chia puddings
- Matcha ice cream
- Sprinkled into scrambled eggs
- Frozen in cubes to be used in stir fry’s
- Added into your (gluten free) tabouleh
- Dust Matcha over (gluten free) pancakes
The various uses of this Superfood do tend to break tradition of most all other green powders. But hey, what’s wrong with that.
It was when I viewed Matcha on a stick I knew id seen too much ha! Homemade of course- Natural Greek yogurt and Matcha- mix it together and into the freezer.
Even cheese cake- yes, what I thought was my favourite cake ruined, turned out to be delightfully refreshing and super healthy! Matcha Alkalizing Juice:
Add your water – filtered of course, stevia, mint leaves, juice of one lemon, ice and a teaspoon of Matcha blend and….try your luck, if it’s a bit to green for your palate, start adding! Using coconut water will sweeten it, and you will then not have to add stevia.