Matcha has been popular in Japan for centuries. Matcha tea has become a popular health drink in the Western world over the last few years. Originally it was consumed by Samurai warriors and royalty. It has a wide range of health benefits like increased weight loss and prevention of heart disease and it is considered a superfood. That is why drinking matcha tea can be an enjoyable way to stay healthy.
Matcha brings a blend of earthy flavors and aromatic scents to modern society. The healthy compounds that are in green tea are even more concentrated in matcha, which is a bright green powder made from green tea leaves.
Learn how to add matcha powder to your everyday life and get all the matcha tea benefits for your health.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is basically green tea in powder form. The green tea used to make matcha is grown and processed in a very special way. Plants are grown in the shade before harvest, and stems are removed before it’s prepared. Because of these special preparation techniques, matcha gets the extraordinary bright green coloration.
The most common way to prepare matcha is by whisking the powder with hot water or milk to make a frothy green, creamy beverage with a long list of health benefits.
How Matcha is Processed
Black, oolong, green and matcha tea leaves all come from the same tea plant, but it’s the process of drying and fermentation of the leaves that lead to their different styles.
For example, black tea is unfermented and its production process requires only steaming and drying. While for matcha tea, the leaves are shade-grown for the final two weeks of their growth cycle to boost chlorophyll levels, and then stone-ground into a very fine powder. The word “matcha” literally translates to “powdered tea.”
The matcha leaves are harvested only once per year, usually in May. A couple of weeks before harvest time, they cover the plants to increase the levels of plant chlorophyll in order to develop a more vibrant green color for the tea powder.
Why Is Matcha Healthier than Green Tea?
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Matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than low-quality steeped green tea, and even up to three times the antioxidants of a higher-quality tea.
That’s because matcha is much more concentrated, so it contains more active compounds per gram than normal steeped tea leaves.
Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals and aren’t even aware of it. That’s what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a portion of the benefits that green tea has to offer. A large part remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. The only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is by consuming the entire leaf, but that doesn’t mean you need to eat tea leaves. The simplest way is to consume it is by enjoying matcha. Because matcha is straight, ground tea leaves, it is equipping you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no high-quality green tea can.
To match the potency found in one single serving of matcha, you would need to drink a minimum of ten cups of brewed green tea.
Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
Strength for Your Immune System
Green tea contains antioxidants that help protect your cells from harmful free radical damage. Free radicals are an unavoidable part of life but heightened by pollution, poor diets, and stress. Free radicals don’t just damage your cells, they can also prevent your cells from repairing. That is bad for your immune system and can cause inflammation and many diseases down the line.
Research has shown that 60% of matcha is made of one specific antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which can boost T-cell production and reduce inflammation and fight pathogens.
The amazingly high levels of antioxidants in matcha powder are so strong, that they will do a better job shielding free radical damage and boosting your immune system than other popular antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C.
Antioxidants also lower inflammation and can even help protect against cancer.
Improved Heart Health
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are the top two major risk factors for heart disease and strokes. Regular oolong and green tea drinkers have a lower risk of high blood pressure than non-tea drinkers.
When consuming matcha you can significantly lower your blood sugar levels, which is essential for reducing inflammation and preventing diseases.
Green tea contains EGCG and caffeine, a powerful duo to boost your metabolism, increase fat burning, and prevent fat cells from forming.
The more calories you burn, the easier it is to create a caloric loss and drop unwanted fat.
Doing fat burning exercises and consuming matcha can help reduce:
- Body weight
- Waist circumference
- Body fat
- Subcutaneous fat
Energy Without the Jitters
One serving of matcha contains 70mg of caffeine or about 50-75% of the caffeine there is in one cup of coffee. That’s about three times more caffeine you’ll find in a steeped green tea because you’re consuming the whole tea leaf. This dose of caffeine is healthy and it is not enough to cause adverse side effects like anxiety.
Matcha and all green teas, contain L-theanine, a naturally calming amino acid that counteracts the jittery feeling you get from drinking caffeinated beverages.
You can also make it keto by adding some MCT oil or MCT oil powder.
MCTs are fatty acids that your body uses quickly and efficiently as fuel. It will boost your focus, suppress your appetite, and maintaining your energy levels despite matcha having less caffeine than coffee.
While caffeine is known to boost your metabolism and energy levels, drinking coffee can make you on edge and anxious, if you’re sensitive to caffeine, but matcha doesn’t have that side effect.
Lower Cancer Risks
Green tea and EGCG also has cancer-fighting properties. They can help by prohibiting tumor cell growth, promoting tumor cell death, preventing the formation of new blood supply to tumors. Increased green tea intake may help with preventing some types of cancer.
Regularly drinking green tea also lowers the risk of endometrial cancer and colorectal cancer. Plus, when patients with ovarian cancer drank green tea, their survival rates were much higher than those who did not consume it.
How to Use Matcha Powder
The traditional preparation of matcha is green tea. To make matcha tea, combine two teaspoons of matcha with hot water in a mug and stir until it dissolves. But you can also try these things:
- Put it in your baked goods. Because it’s a powder, matcha can be easily incorporated into baked goods like muffins, healthy cookies, by replacing a small amount of flour with matcha powder. You can also try making matcha pancakes or waffles for breakfast. Matcha will color your baked goods green, which can be fun for kids.
- Matcha Chia Protein Pudding. One of the easiest ways to add matcha to your diet is to simply add some into your breakfast. Simply mix one tablespoon of matcha with your chia seeds, you can also add some vanilla protein powder for a more interesting taste.
- Put it in your green smoothie. By adding a few teaspoons of matcha powder to your green smoothie recipe will make it even healthier.
- Make a matcha latte. Put a few teaspoons of matcha powder into a mug. Fill about a quarter of your cup with hot water, then the rest of with steamed milk.
- Put it on your popcorn. If you are looking for a healthy snack for movie nights, just sprinkle a little matcha powder onto your popcorn.
How Does Matcha Help With Concentrating and Focusing?
Over a thousand years ago, matcha came to Japan to help the meditation practice. During long hours of sitting, monks would consume matcha to remain alert but calm. Modern science has recently the lessons of centuries of tradition. Matcha is very rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that promotes relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brain’s functioning. While stress can induce beta waves an excited state, L-Theanine creates alpha waves, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. And while L-Theanine is common in all teas, matcha can contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common in black and green teas.
L-Theanine can also help with memory and learning and ability all the while leaving out any possible side-effects of caffeine, a natural component of green tea. Because of that, a bowl of matcha improves concentration and clarity of mind without any of the nervous energy found in coffee.
Since you’re consuming the whole green tea leaf in powder form, it’s important to get the best quality matcha powder available.
Lesser quality matcha can be full of pesticides, added sugars, and questionable fillers.
Get started taking advantage of the many health benefits of matcha as soon as you can. You can experiment with different brands to find your favorite. Matcha powder can be included in almost any meal, because of that it is super easy to start a new healthy habit with this powerful superfood.
Lena Hemsworth is a lifestyle blogger, foodie, and lover of a good book. She’s also a strong believer in the written word and positive thoughts.
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