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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Alpine Start with Benefits Coffee & Tea > Test Report by joe schaffer
Alpine Start Matcha Tea
Test Report by Joe Schaffer
INITIAL REPORT - May 25, 2021
LONG TERM REPORT - August 30, 2021
NAME: Joe Schaffer
HOME: Bay Area, California USA
I enjoy California's central Sierras, camping every month with a goal to match my age in nights out each year. For comfort I lug tent, mattress, chair and such. Typical summer trips run 5-8 days; 40 lb (18 kg), about half food and water related; about 5 miles (8 km) per hiking day in the bright and sunny granite in and around Yosemite. I winter base camp most often at 6,000 to 7,000 ft (1,800 to 2,000 m); 2 to 3 nights; 50 lb (23 kg); a mile or so (1.6 km) on snowshoes.
Product: Matcha with Benefits
Manufacturer: Alpine Start Foods, Inc.
Features and claims from mfr:
Focus: 1700 mg/serving MCTs from coconuts
Immune support: 100 mg/serving Reishi mushrooms
50% DV Vitamins D + A
Mental Clarity: 100 mg per serving Lions Mane
Caffeine: 25 mg/serving from Matcha
Net weight: 5.2 oz (146.5 g)
Serving size = .42 oz (12 g)
Country of origin: Matcha in Japan; Reishi & Lion's Mane in USA.
MSRP: USD $22.99
Weight: gross--5 7/8 oz (169 g)
Package size: about 8 x 7 x 1 in (20 x 18 x 2.5 cm)
Package contents: Product; serving-size scoop
Received: May 24, 2021
I received three 12-serving packages of bulk Matcha With Benefits. The product is a fine-as-flour powder a little lighter and mustardy-yellow in color than pea soup. (Very similar to the package bottom.) It takes to the nose as a faint smell of cut grass, which I find softly pleasing.
Each package includes a serving-size plastic scoop. The package is resealable.
Directions call for one level scoop of 12 g (0.43 oz) product mixed into 8-12 oz (240-350 ml) hot water. I don't find any mention of how many doses a day are recommended.
Matcha naturally contains L-theanine, an amino acid claimed to help moderate the effects of caffeine. This product has 25 mg of caffeine per serving. According to the vendor website, Matcha with Benefits offers: Immunity+Focus is an organic instant matcha and non-dairy creamer powered by organic Lion's Mane, organic Reishi mushrooms, MCT's and vitamins A & D. Coconut creamer powder is claimed to add a creamy texture and flavor, though not tasting like coconut.
According to WebMD, medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) are partially man-made fats. MCTs are a fat source for patients who cannot tolerate other types of fats. These fats might also improve weight loss because the body uses them in a different way than other types of fats. MCTs are taken by mouth or given with a needle alone or along with usual medications for involuntary weight loss in people who are very ill (cachexia or wasting syndrome). MCTs are also used for obesity, seizures, athletic performance, and other conditions, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these other uses. Alpine Start says "MCT's are one of the fastest sources of clean fuel for the body and the brain...are processed quickly by the liver and converted to ketones, which power the brain and restore ATP" (energy source).
A google of reishi mushrooms finds these claims: 1. Boost the Immune System. 2. Anti-Cancer Properties. 3. Could Fight Fatigue and Depression. 4. Heart Health. 5. Blood Sugar Control. Alpine Start says "Reishi is an adaptogen that helps your body deal with and adapt to stress. Proven to help support the immune system."
Googling lion's mane finds it may help with a variety of health problems, including: 1) Alzheimer's disease; 2) Anxiety; 3) Depression; 4) High cholesterol; 5) Inflammation; 6) Parkinson's disease; 7) Ulcers. In addition, lion's mane is said to strengthen the immune system, stimulate digestion, and protect against cancer. Findings from animal-based research, test-tube studies, and small clinical trials indicate lion's mane may offer certain health benefits, including support for neuronal health. Lion's mane may benefit older adults with mild cognitive impairment, (YIPPEE!!) according to a small study published in Phytotherapy Research in 2009. Alpine Start says it is "a nootropic shown to support memory and cognitive function."
And, a keto diet is a low-carb, moderate protein, higher-fat diet that can help burn fat more effectively. It has many benefits for weight loss, health, and performance, as shown in over 50 studies. A keto diet is especially useful for losing excess body fat, reducing hunger, and improving type 2 diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Matcha tea is claimed on the web to have all these benefits: 1) Loaded with antioxidants; 2) Might boost skin glow; 3) More energy than from other teas; 4) Not as jittery as a cup of joe; 5) Can significantly increase productivity; 6) Could help ward off cancer; 7) Green tea may promote healthier cholesterol levels; 8) Can strengthen bones; 9) Can be more filling than a cup of coffee or brewed tea; 10) Works really well as a natural food dye.
As someone who avoids caffeine most of the time, I'm anxious to see what affect the dosage may have on me. I'll likely start at a water ratio of three-to-four times reccommended in a L (qt) for my trail bottle. Directions suggest mixing the product in hot water, which I'll be able to do as the evening campfire drink. (Will be fun to see how all that caffeine helps put me to sleep.) During the day cold water will have to do in my BPA-saturated trail bottle. The product trick that will work for me is if the GI tract recognizes enough food value to buffer the drug.
For full disclosure, perhaps it should be noted that I wolf more than a dozen vitamins and supplements a day; and I'd slurp tincture of toad spit if somebody on PBS said it's rest home repellent. I thought apple cider vinegar was the cat's meow for resolving all of life's issues, but my apparently finicky innards won't tolerate battery acid. Alpine Start Matcha With Benefits may be the salvation that keeps the carcass from collapsing as the brain continues craving wilderness.
1. May 26-29, 2021: Yosemite Wilderness, California, USA. 4 days, 8 mi (13 km); leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 45-75 F (7-24 C), sunny & calm; 5,900-6,500 ft (1,800-2,000 m); 1 camp at 6,400 ft (1,900 m).
2. June 4-11, 2021: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 8 days, 19 mi (30 km) mostly trail; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 32-75 F (0-24 C), hot and calm to gusty and freezing with even a spit of snow and hail; 7,200-9,000 ft (2,200-2,700 m); 6 camps.
3. June 23-28, 2021: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 5 nights, 16 mi (25 km) mostly trail; leave weight 35 lb (16 kg); 45-80 F (7-27 C), sunny; 7,200-8,000 ft (2,200-2,400 m); 4 camps.
4. Jul 12-22, 2021: Emigrant Wilderness, California, USA. 10 nights, 24 mi (39 km) mostly trail; leave weight 42 lb (19 kg); 40-90 F (4-32 C), mostly hot and calm with one showery day; 7,200-9,000 ft (2,200-2,700 m); 7 camps.
5. Aug 4-9, 2021: Stanislaus National Forest, California, USA. 5 nights, 17 mi (27 km) mostly trail; leave weight 40 lb (18 kg); 50-80 F (10-27 C); 5,900-8,000 ft (1,800-2,400 m); 4 camps.
6. Aug 17-27, 2021: Emigrant & Yosemite, California, USA. 10 nights, 39 mi (63 km) trail + 9 mi (14 km) XC, 41 hrs hiking; leave weight 43 lb (20 kg), return 31 lb (14 kg); 40-80 F (4-27 C); 7,000-9,000 ft (2,100-2,700 m); 9 camps.
Lest assumptions be made too early, the end result of the test is that the product is highly consumable. Now on to the order of testing.
After I loaded the envelope into my bear canister at home for the first trip it occurred that a fellow would be wiser to sample a product before relying on it so heavily even for a short outing. The powder dissolved quickly in hot water, mixed at one dose for 12 oz (350 ml) of water, the maximum recommended solution. It looks like thin split pea soup, which I like well enough. The light grassy smell of the powder became more of an alfalfa smell, bright and pleasing but not one I readily associate with the kind of food I eat. The very first smell-taste impression was of rabbit food, which that sampling having been 65 years or so ago and I still remember, must have made an impression. Matcha texture was creamy and appealing. An after-burp wrought havoc. As gullible as I am and acknowledging the power of placebo, I can with any health product at one moment think I am Superman and the next that I should call the advice nurse. I set out a double dose of Matcha to load my L (qt) trail bottle for the next day.
How much bouncing around in travel there may have been will not be considered, but the mixture stayed well in suspension for the hours it remained in the bottle unattended. The bottom of the bottle was a little darker than the top, and there did appear a slight amount of sediment. My first thought on taking a tepid swig as I labored uphill in the heat was that this test could be a long one. I finished the bottle in an hour-and-a-half not because I wanted to (though being a test trooper of course I would) as much as I was drying out on the hike. I felt light-headed and hungry and a little unsteady as I stumbled a quarter-mile (400 m) off-trail to a favored campsite. One of the reasons I avoid caffeine is that it brings on what I diagnose as a low blood sugar event making me feel hot and jittery, and desperately hungry.
Next night an hour before bedtime I prepared a mug in hot water. This was a single dose in 20 oz (0.6 L). It caused no objection from down below, but I can't say I liked it. I'd eaten dinner and felt no reaction to the caffeine. I slept very well, so if nothing else objectively, I can say the product did not keep me awake.
The first trip's last day it came to me that perhaps a more potent solution would be better. (For reasons beyond me it seems I have a penchant for diluting stuff notwithstanding contrary directions that I often don't read until recovering the package from the trash.) I put a dose into the suggested minimum of 8 oz (240 ml) in sun-heated coffee pot water, probably about 105 degrees F (40 C) and poured it into an otherwise empty stomach. Within a few minutes my cheeks started buzzing and I wasn't at all hungry. I couldn't decide if I felt alpha dog or alfalfa eater. Disregarding both, a clear conclusion was that the higher the concentration of product to water, the better it tastes. I packed up and ate morning gruel before leaving, feeling no residual caffeine effect.
On the first trip (and counting the cup before) I consumed the equivalent of 8.5 doses over five days. I didn't keep track of water volume. I determined that a heaping camp-spoon equals the scoop-measure, so I won't be carrying the extra weight of the scoop on any subsequent trips.
At home I tried chilling the concoction before imbibing. It tastes much better refrigerator-cold, though I generally prefer room temperature drinks. In hot water the product tastes ok. In the middle in the outback is where the temperature is most often going to be. As I'd mixed too much before my trip, I'd put the overage in the fridge. A week later it had settled out to a creamy white with a thin, green bottom layer. Careful to keep from stirring up the bottom, I decanted the creamy white part and drank that. It had a smooth texture and a mild coconut flavor. I liked it. Next day I stirred up the green layer and drank that. Refrigerator cold it was grassy but not unwholesome. Within 3/4 hour or so I started to get that really uncomfortable feeling of low sugar and ravenous desire to eat lots of anything.
For the second trip I weighed out a single envelope of 84 g (3 oz) to have seven 12 g (0.42 oz) servings that I ultimately mixed with 8 oz (240 ml) of water, though the daily measure could have varied a bit. Most mornings were chilly and only one did I have campfire. Getting the powder into cold-water suspension takes some effort. Two mornings I spent in the same location in very similar conditions. This provided opportunity to engage a measure of what must in context be regarded as rigorous scientific protocol. Or I should have brought a book. Here are the results, with slight rounding of time for simplicity; empty stomach; 58 F (14 C) both mornings, starting after quickly consuming 1 dose in approximately 8 oz (240 ml) of cold water; pulse count for 1 minute:
TIME DAY 1 Pulse DAY 2 pulse
10:30 57 57
10:40 58 59
10:50 59 59
11:05 59 60
11:15 60 65
11:25 62 59
11:35 58 58
From this effort I would conclude the intake slightly accelerated pulse rate for about a half-hour. Of course the regimen did not include a similar effort with any other kind of intake, or for that matter, no intake at all. Neither day did I get ravenous, nor did I feel comfortably sated following the night's fast.
On the third trip I weighed a proper ration for each day into a single baggie. I took a dose every morning, even on a day that didn't involve any hiking, all in cold water. No surprise that getting the powder into solution took quite a bit of stirring and mashing in the mug. I'd estimate I mixed it in 6-8 oz (175-240 ml) of water. It remained a surprise to me that the more concentrated dose tastes better.
Fourth trip I decided to try dosing on the trail again, the day calling for a 5.5 mile (9 k) effort with about 1.5 mile (2.4 k) of fairly rugged cross country ascent. Unlike every other day of the trip, this one was a little cooler and came with spates of showers along the way. I filled my L (qt) bottle with a single serving in cold water. Evidently I'm getting more accustomed to the flavor as I drank this ration without hesitation. Whether I was less tired at the end of the hike I couldn't say, but the libation went down well. I didn't get hungry.
On the fifth trip I am becoming much more accustomed to the taste. Some mornings I thought I rather liked it. The powder seems to dissolve better in water that is probably above 70 F (27 C). Below 50 F or so (10 C) it requires much patient stirring and smushing. I prefer the product's taste in cooler water. I did notice on a couple of days hiking that the Matcha can repeat with the intensity of fish oil capsules, though to less objectionable note.
The last trip's mission was to see if I could drag my carcass a probable final time up out of Emigrant to Yosemite's Peninsula Lake and a couple near-bys. The cross-country part is steep and rugged, and I knew I'd already be tired by the time I got started off the trail at Huckleberry Lake. I was so exhausted by the time I got back to Huckleberry several days later that I wanted to put the GPS batteries under my tongue, but they were spent too. The trip's last 12 mi (20 km) took 4 days, and that was trail. I bring this up for context--I drank the Matcha each of the final 8 days (all the doses I had left). Maybe the tea helped me scramble over the ridges and lumber back to the car, or maybe it didn't. I was so tired I couldn't tell. Hiking hours were hot and I was gulping 5-6 L (qts) a day, typically half that around breakfast when I drank the tea. I did wonder if all that liquid might dilute any boost from the tea, but either way it was in me. It's tastes OK cold, and I preferred it that way even on chilly mornings. Getting the powder into solution becomes quite the ritual. About 6-8 oz (175-240 ml) of water made the most appetizing drink.
Did I perceive a fair share of the benefits claimed? To be fair, how would I know? I think I felt it, but I can say the same for chocolate. I don't eat so much out in the woods and anything that goes into the gut has some kind of effect. Cod liver oil just won't stay down, no matter how credible the health claims. This product, while I can't say I would ever expect to crave, certainly has no unpleasantness about it when mixed to a proper concentration and consumed cold.
My bit of research on the claims tends to suggest that Matcha Tea With Benefits components have important health attributes. This would be my reason for continuing with the product.
a) smells fine
c) light caffeine
Thank you Alpine Start Foods and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product. Reporting is complete.
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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > Alpine Start with Benefits Coffee & Tea > Test Report by joe schaffer