Green is the New Black, by Pukka’s herbal experts
Over 70 million cups of coffee are drunk every single day in Britain alone. Highly caffeinated drinks such as coffee and ‘energy drinks’ are controversial and their potential impacts on our health are a hot topic.But there is a more natural way to get your usual morning ‘hit’ without the withdrawal effects and disadvantages that can come with habitual consumption of coffee?
Well the answer is yes – and it’s in the form of matcha, a super concentrated form of green tea.
Matcha, green, black and white tea are all produced from the same plant, camellia sinensis, also known as the common tea plant. The only difference is the way in which the plant is cultivated, harvested and processed. Matcha, for example, is a powder made from the tips of green tea leaves with a characteristic vibrant green colour.
The bright, vivid green is a result of high levels of the light-capturing pigment, chlorophyll. This pigment converts sunlight into energy for the plant, and this is transferred to us when we consume it. It’s just a bonus that it also tastes delicious.
Matcha’s recent rise in popularity in the West is in part due to a better understanding of its incredible health benefits. Recent research has shown that one cup of matcha has 100 times the antioxidants compared to green tea (and green has about double the levels found in black tea). Matcha also contains various compounds that are associated with improving health, reducing stress and increasing alertness. It’s the perfect brew for our over-stimulated busy world – and, as we explain below, a great alternative to coffee.
Matcha and green tea also contain caffeine but the caffeine found in matcha and green tea ‘buddies up’ with the chlorophyll and other beneficial compounds known as catechins, flavonoids and polyphenols to ensure that they are in a format which our human body can break down and make the most out of.
This ensures that all those beautiful rays of sunshine captured in the leaves of the matcha and green tea are not wasted. And, unlike coffee, caffeine is not the primary compound found in matcha and green tea; it is balanced out by other pigments and compounds that help prevent the characteristic ‘crash’ so often attributed to coffee. So if you’re looking for a healthy and sustainable way to boost your energy levels, give match a go this January.
Quote from Katie Pande, Pukka’s Expert Herbalist:
Persuading someone to drink a herbal tea over a coffee or fizzy drink is easier said than done. There are numerous benefits to making the change, but why? What I often find helps, is to explain the effects they have on the body.
Our body recognises the ‘sweet’ but flavour but cannot immediately differentiate between un-natural and natural sources of sweetness. The majority of added sugars and sweeteners now being used in our food and drinks industry are fructose based, including the rather infamous ‘syrups’. Interestingly, the body processes fructose in a different way to more natural sugars such as glucose. For example, when glucose is processed by the body it reduces blood flow and activity in the regions of the brain that regulate feelings of satisfaction, leaving us feeling ‘full’.
Fructose, however, appears to have the opposite effect, increasing our need for sugar creating a vicious cycle. What this explains is why we are never satisfied after consuming high levels of refined sugars, whether it’s in foods or drinks. It appears to be a bit of a vicious cycle, where the more ‘un-natural’ sugar we consume, the more we crave.
For those habitual coffee drinkers, here’s why it’s better to swap at least one coffee for a herbal tea. Habitual coffee drinkers are chronically exposed to caffeine as a result of consuming the beverage at intervals throughout the day. Evidence exists that there is nothing to gain from habitual consumption of coffee and that the ‘stimulant’ effects become significantly reduced. As a consequence, it has to be questioned whether habitual consumption of coffee is due to a psychological association between coffee ingestion and cognitive stimulation.