25 May 2014

Teapigs Organic Matcha Super Green Tea Powder [Review by @NLi10]

I'm a bit of a Teapigs fan boy.  After Cinabar mentioned them to me I tried them out and fell in love. 

Not as much in love as with Fentimans (whose first ever TV advert came out this week) but then that's a longer standing thing, and there are far more quality teas out there than quality soft drinks.  My other soft drink love - Pocari - is off to the moon next year, it really is a good time to be a quality brand.

Teapigs offered to send me a kit for their green tea powder (which I'd not heard of) so I said YES and received the below with a couple of other teas which I will review in the future.  I knew that I could get this off their website but I spotted it in Selfridges first and was amazed at how much it was.  The Teapigs site has it for much cheaper though and has a bundle deal like I got for £32.50.  This should last you for 30 days though so it's cheaper than a lot of diets or health kicks.

The question is, what is it and what does it do.  Essentially Matcha is a specific kind of green tea, that is ground into a fine powder (it looks like makeup). It's special properties are said to come from it's growing techniques (shade is involved) and the fact that you ingest the powdered leaves instead of throwing them away.  What it's supposed to do is listed here - and unlike a lot of 'bad science' food products this has references for all it's claims that link to peer reviewed journals. This is a good thing, as it means that it isn't just people agreeing with what the packets say - this has been tested.

In a nutshell it's a kick start for the morning.  Essentially you take a shot of the powder (with water, juice, milk - whatever you like) and your body slowly releases the caffeine and other good things over the course of the day.  The closest sensation I can link it to is the Health Potion that I reviewed many years ago - not for the initial roar of caffeine, but the calmer alertness that came later.  

In the above picture I did it with hot water (like tea) and below with cold milk.  The lumps in the top picture are as I took it before using the whisk - you realistically need one to get this perfect every time.

The below picture is with orange juice.  I expected this to be horrible, but it was surprisingly smooth. In fact it wasn't dissimilar to the 'shrek juice' smoothies that I like.  In fact the taste hasn't been a problem for me - it is just very strong green tea.  My partner tried one and had to be coaxed into drinking the second half of the shot - she disliked the flavour so much!  I guess that you already know whether you like green tea strong or weak so you can judge this yourself.

The real question is how effective this is.  The parcel arrived on the 9th of May and I started on the 10th.  This gives us 16 mornings of potential Matcha usage.  I wanted to write this up at the half way point and again at the end to see exactly what I thought as it went on.  I am tempted to eat a similar amount of normal loose tea in the following 30 days to see what that does, but we will see.

Initially I had no problem with compliance and the first 5 or so days passed without issue. I found that I had a little tea shot, then breakfast and about half way to work (I've been walking most days) i started to feel like it kicked in.  It is almost like a 'brightening' feeling where you are waking up a second time and not unlike drinking a cup of tea.  This lasts until after lunch and doesn't end with a crash but gradually peters out.  I grew to quite like this sensation and was happy to have the pick me up.  My walks home were more tiring, but not noticeably different to a day where I hadn't taken the shot.  I started to look into other types of powdered tea and where I can get the next months supply from.  I was reminded of one of my favourite ever online cartoon series called 'Beat The Blerch' and in combination with recent lifestyle changes was going to use this as the cornerstone of a new 'me'. But...

Around the 16th I noticed that I was having problems, which I suspected may be a combination of factors - most of them unique to me.  I've recently found out about a long standing medical condition that presumably I've always had but never really understood.  Two of the things that they say aggravate it are alcohol and caffeine.  At various times and for various reasons I've cut these out of my diet and improved my health - without really understanding why.  While the Matcha tea shot only has about the same as a cup of green tea (that I'd normally have most days at work) I found the mornings becoming gradually harder. Then one morning I felt terrible and was really groggy so completely forgot about the tea.  The day was less bright and breezy because of this, but the following morning I wasn't quite as groggy.  This got me to thinking about whether the powder tea was causing problems with my condition.

I switched back to having the shot that morning, but was now keeping a much closer eye on how I felt.  The day went well and the morning again was more lethargic and harder to get up from.

I had two days off from the powder to have a think about things.  I looked up the caffeine values for the things I'd been drinking and made a mental note of the alcohol I'd had at a couple of social outings.  I resolved that there should be no problems with having the shot in the morning as long as I only had one decaf tea besides that in a day and no alcohol.  This isn't a big change, but I think the problem days did occur when Pepsi and tea had also been consumed so I may be unfairly placing the burden on the matcha.

It is like this that I have continued, on weekends having the shot a little later as having energy when no one else is up seems unnecessary.  I've been OK in the mornings so far, but will monitor things.

For a person who can drink a normal amount of caffeine (say a cup of coffee a day, or two cups of regular tea) then this problem should be non existent.  You should expect to have half a day of bright and productive energy and no slump that sugar based energy drinks and highly caffeinated products produce.  I can't really talk about the skin side yet, I will see if I make it to the end of the thirty days.

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