It's Only Natural: Matcha Tea

While there is nothing wrong with a traditional cup of tea, it's just not cool to use a plain old tea-bag in your mug these days. No, if you want to keep up with the in-crowd, your cup should run over with a lifestyle drink packed with health-giving benefits, some of which have to be promising the miracle of anti-ageing or weight-loss.

We've had Victoria Beckham and her miracle diet aid, Pu-erh Slimming Tea (said to kick-start your metabolism) and many of us have supped on the natural appetite suppressant, Yerba Mate (which, if truth be told, tastes of straw). Now, however, a new "anti-aging" elixir called Matcha Tea--an ultra-concentrated type of green tea from Japan--has become the latest beverage of choice. Jessica Alba has been seen cradling a takeaway cup of the stuff after visiting tea bar Muzi on location in Canada, and Sharon Osbourne is reported to be a fan.

Made from the first buds to emerge from tea bushes grown on the hills just outside Kyoto, this is the freshest tea you can drink. It also boasts the highest concentration of caffeine, so this brew gives you a veritable buzz (it's apparently used by Zen Buddhist monks to stay awake for meditation). The reason is that it can give you that Red Bull-style jolt and still qualify as a health drink. It is also said to contain up to 15 times more nutrients than regular green tea and is also apparently 137 times richer in free-radical- fighting antioxidants than any other member of the tea family.

Starbucks already stocks it in the US, and now natural beauty brand Origins is about to launch their new Muzi Matcha Tea set (which includes a bowl, bamboo whisk, bamboo scoop and a tub of high-grade powdered matcha tea leaves), and contains everything for your own little Japanese tea ceremony, if you are so inclined.

Alternatively, there are a number of health food outlets which also stock the leaves, Wherever you buy it from, remember to make sure you choose the powdered form. When we use a tea bag we actually throw away 90 per cent of the nutrients found naturally in the bag, but, by using a powder, you take in every last drop.

And don't be put off by the fact it looks like dark green frogspawn, it actually tastes a little like miso soup and is not at all unpleasant.

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