Records indicate that tea drinking started in China and dates back more than four centuries ago. Today, tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world. There are several types of tea including black tea, green tea, oolong tea and pu-erh. They are all derived from the same plant, Camelia sinensis, but they have different components and are prepared differently leading to their varying benefits. Although black tea is the most widely consumed tea, it is also the most processed tea and its healthful antioxidant properties are much lower. More and more, green tea is now gaining popularity because of its powerful antioxidant properties, which may help to protect the body against numerous concerns.
Why is green tea so good for you?
As I mentioned earlier, the different components and processing sets them apart from each other. After the leaves are plucked, they begin to oxidise and ferment which imparts a distinctive colour and flavour. Green, Black and Oolong refer to the different methods used to process the plucked leaves. As far as green tea is concerned, the leaves are steamed, roasted or pan–fried almost immediately, ensuring the fermentation is kept to an absolute minimum. As a result, most green teas tend to be of light green colour. If the green tea you are currently drinking is not light green in colour, then the chances are that you are getting inferior oxidised tea with less health benefits.
Fresh tea leaves are unusually rich in antioxidants called polyphenols which may constitute nearly 30% of the dry leaf weight. Polyphenols exist as a series of chemicals called catechins. Epigallocatechin (EGCG) happens to be the most powerful catechin found in tea. It is nearly 100 times more potent in its antioxidant properties than vitamins C & E. One cup of green tea is more potent in its antioxidant properties than a serving of strawberries, broccoli or carrots.
What are the benefits of green tea?
- Evidence suggests that green tea has a potent activity against harmful bacteria and viruses.
- Various compounds in green tea have been shown to inhibit histamine, a major chemical in allergic reactions.
- Green Tea contains compounds which have been shown to enhance the rate of fat metabolism and enhance energy expenditure making it a useful adjunct for any weight loss regime.
- May help support the immune system.
- Green Tea supports healthy digestion.
There are many green teas on the market however there is one that stands well above all the other green teas called Matcha Green Tea which is presented in a stone-ground powder form. Matcha Green Tea is completely unfermented with the highest levels of antioxidants and is also nutritionally rich.
What is the best type of Matcha tea?
Despite the rich history behind Chinese tea making, the best green tea is actually Matcha Green Tea from Japan. Made from the finest, youngest leaves of the first harvesting days in Japan, this tea secures a special place in the Japanese Tea Ceremony called Chado. This unique form of green tea was thought to have been introduced into Japan by a monk returning from China.
Matcha, a powdered green tea, comes from the same plant as black tea, but remains unfermented. It is then ground into a fine green powder keeping its nutritional and antioxidant properties intact, potent and very active. Matcha is essentially a very concentrated form of green tea. The way it is grown and consumed means that it is packed full of vitamins and minerals. Matcha tea bushes are grown under shade which dramatically increases their chlorophyll content. I have written about the merits of chlorophyll in a separate article.
Until recently, virtually all Matcha has been consumed within Japan, where it’s particularly popular among students who are cramming for exams. In Japan, Matcha is as common a flavour as chocolate or strawberry. In supermarkets, Matcha powder is available as a topping or flavour for everything from ice cream to cakes and chocolate bars. It is now gaining popularity in the UK, too, and it can be found in cafes, health food shops and smoothie bars.
There are many Matcha teas on the market to choose from. Just like green tea, all Matcha teas are not created equally and the one that I recommend is Super Power Green Organic Matcha by Teapigs. I am going to outline why this is one of the best Matcha teas on the market.
- Teapigs genuine organic Matcha comes from the renowned Nishio region in Japan, where some of the country’s highest quality tea leaves are grown. Due to its idyllic climate, freshwater rivers and fertile soils, this region has been known for its tea cultivation ever since 1200s.
- Teapigs organic Matcha undergoes strict testing by the Japanese authorities to ensure that it does not contain any radiation or toxic levels of metals found in other Matcha teas grown near industrial development.
- The tea leaves are grown under three layers of cover for the last two weeks of cultivation to produce lots of chlorophyll which is an excellent energy booster.
- Skilled farmers harvest only the youngest leaves without any stems and veins which can dilute the nutritional value and affect the taste.
- Teapigs organic Matcha is ground in the traditional method using granite stones in a controlled environment without nutrient loss. Many other brands use a pulverisation process that causes friction causing loss of nutrients.
Although green tea happens to be the most nutritious beverage of earth, you have to be careful about the source of green tea as there are many inferior green teas on the market that contain potentially toxic levels of lead and aluminium. When you drink Teapigs Super Power Green Organic Matcha, you are not just consuming green tea leaf-infusing water (which contains only a tiny fraction of nutrients) but you are consuming the entire nutrient rich green tea leaf. The fact remains that Matcha has double the amount of antioxidants than green tea or that Japanese women swear by its skin-rejuvenating power, whether you drink green tea for its taste or for its beneficial health-supporting benefits, there is only one green tea I would recommend and it is Teapigs Super Power Green Organic Matcha.