What is Matcha?
Matcha is a finely milled green tea with a beautiful distinct flavour that offers multiple health benefits including reduced cholesterol and weight loss.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition carried out a study that showed matcha could increase thermogenesis (bodies ability to burn fat) from a daily average of 8%-10% to a whooping 35%-43%.
What makes matcha different to other green teas is the lengthy cultivation process which involves shading the leaves from direct sunlight 20 days prior to harvest to boost the plants' chlorophyll levels which turns the leaves a darker, vibrant shade of green. Thereafter it can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.
Chlorophyll is a potent source of antioxidants that protects the body’s cells from oxidative damage by eliminating free radicals. Its been scientifically proven that chlorophyll kills harmful bacteria, including strep and staph infections, bad odours in the mouth, gum disease, and destroys bad bacteria that forms in the digestive tract.
After harvesting the hand picked leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation. Next the leaves are sorted for grade, followed by the removal of stems and veins prior to being stone-ground into a fine, bright green powder, known as Matcha.
It’s this process that transforms matcha into a ‘super tea’, providing unrivalled health benefits and the ability to stimulate and calm at the same time thanks to the production of the amino acid L-Theanine.
How did Matcha Originate?
Matcha originates back to China in the 10th century, and rose further in popularity in the 12th century where it was used by monks in Japan to centre themselves during meditation. Over time, it became part of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and eventually became an everyday drink.
Today most cafes and restaurants make matcha with twice the amount of water and half the amount of powder, making it less potent than the traditional method, which is a lengthier process that involves gently whisking the tea using a bamboo whisk and is mostly prepared during traditional tea ceremonies from the highest quality of matcha powder.
The benefits (compared to regular green tea)
Matcha shines when it comes to green teas because the whole leaf powder is used resulting in more caffeine, amino acids and antioxidants being ingested instead of just the water that was infused through the tea leaves.
This puts matcha into the superfood category thanks to its host of health benefits, largely due to its high level of antioxidants, and nutrient density.
- One cup of matcha tea contains 10 times the amount of nutrition as regular green tea.
- You receive 100% of the nutritional benefits due to the entire leave being consumed
- Matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants than ordinary green tea
Matcha tea is 100% nutrient dense with unrivalled health benefits:
- Reduced cholesterol & blood sugar
- Natural detoxification
- Weight loss through increased metabolism
- Improved brain function and memory
- Cancer prevention
- Immune boosting
- Protection from oxidative stress
- Reduces Kidney disease
- Antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal
- Heart disease prevention
- Rich source of fibre, B & C vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and chlorophyll
Todays non-stop to-do list has people crashing from one activity to another, leaving little time or energy for exercise. An unexpected health benefit is that matcha tea drinkers experience sustained energy levels throughout the day. One study thought that this was due to the high levels of caffeine, but discovered that it was due to matcha’s natural properties. Another study found that match improved physical endurance by 24%, making mathca much more appealing than energy drinks which contain sugar or artificial sweeteners.
Another super nutrient found in matcha is L-theanine, an amino acid that offers extended-release caffeine, resulting in calm, focused energy, with a growing number of Americans opting for a morning matcha instead of a morning espresso!
Matcha is rich in L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation and wellbeing by creating alpha waves that promote a state of relaxed alertness. Although L-Theanine is common in all tea matcha contains five times more L-Theanine than regular black and green teas.
Why drink Matcha
Everyday people unknowingly throw away valuable nutrition when they discard a green tea bag, since the majority of nutrition is held in the tealeaves. This problem is easily solved with matcha tea since the complete leaf is consumed.
For this reason matcha is packed with exponentially more antioxidants, vitamins, chlorophyll, amino acids, catechins, and polyphenols than any other 'superfood'.
Catechins are a specific type of antioxidant that contains EGCg, (epigallocatchin gallate) which is not found in other foods.
60% of the catechins found in matcha are EGCg. Catechins counteract the effects of free radicals cased by everyday stressors, including radiation, exercise, metabolism, UV rays, and pollution which contribute to DNA and cellular damage.
The polyphenols in matcha tea possess 20 to 30 times the antioxidant potency of vitamins C and E. Matcha tea also contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, & B6, plus carotene, a precursor to vitamin A; ascorbic acid (vitamin C), folic acid; manganese, and potassium.
Not surprisingly some studies suggest that the nutrient levels found in matcha may reduce the risk of kidney and liver damage while lowering blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol levels. Matcha is also shown to be antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal.
Green tea studies have shown that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of heart disease than people who don’t drink green tea. This is mainly attributed to the antioxidants and plant compounds in green tea, which are found in even higher amounts in matcha tea.
When it comes to weight loss, matcha works wonders due to its thermogenic (metabolism boosting) and fat burning abilities. One study suggests that matcha may help burn calories by four times. Unlike other weight loss options, matcha does not stress the adrenals; raise blood pressure or heart rate, making it a much healthier and safer alternative to weight loss pills and shakes.
Why is Matcha Growing in Popularity and Becoming a Trend?
Whilst matcha tends to be more expensive than other green teas due to its fairly long preparation process it offers more than your average cup of tea, and is rapidly growing in popularity due to its caffeine boost without the drawbacks.
Many Americans consume three times as much coffee over tea for their caffeine fix, but matcha tea is fast becoming a rival thanks to its positive caffeine kick and health benefits.
Matcha tea is gentler on the body, especially for anyone suffering from the negative effects of caffeine such as the shakes, rapid heartbeat or acid reflux. An upset stomach is much less likely due to it's low levels of acidity, and can leave you feeling relaxed for hours without the jitters associated with coffee. It’s also more appealing due to its detoxification properties. Whereas other teas can add to ones toxic load, matcha tea helps to reduce toxicity, thanks to its high levels of chlorophyll.
Matcha ranks very highly on the ORAC list of foods. ORAC is an acronym that stands for oxygen radical absorbance capacity, which determines the level of antioxidants that are bioavailable in all food and drink.
Matcha tea is the most efficient antioxidant food source available on the market, with an ORAC value of 1384 per gram. For comparison goji berries rank at 253 and dark chocolate comes in 227.
One study found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea, and up to 3 times more antioxidants than other high-quality teas.
Since antioxidants are the bodies major defense mechanism against disease, and aging it makes sense to ensure your levels are topped up whenever possible.
The high levels of chlorophyll are great for a detoxing, and removing heavy metals from the body, reducing toxicity unlike regular tea and coffee. Chlorophyll gives matcha its rich green color and is one of nature’s most powerful detoxifier. However, matcha contains substantially more chlorophyll than other green teas due to the careful shade-grown process.
How to Prepare Matcha Tea
Matcha is prepared by sifting the powder into a bowl and whisking it with hot, (not boiling) water until frothy. The entire tealeaf is consumed as opposed to regular tea where only the brewed contents are drunk. If you let a bowl of matcha sit for long period of time it will separate unlike a brewed/steeped cup of tea.
- Chawan: a tea bowl that is used to make and drink the matcha.
- Chashaku: a traditional bamboo teaspoon
- Chasen: a tea sifter to break up all the clumps, which develop because of static in the matcha powder.
Start by using sifting a teaspoon of matcha powder into a bowl.
Gently add three ounces of 175°F water and whisk rapidly in a figure of 8 until frothy.
The goal is to get only small bubbles on the surface, resulting in a hot frothy drink that is sweet and grassy, with an occasional hint of bitterness.
The flavor will depend on the quality of powder used and the region that is comes from. Some powders are unpleasantly bitter, so you need to shop around to find one that suites your taste buds.
In summary matcha is a powdered, high-quality green tea that is grown and prepared differently to regular green tea. It’s full of energy giving nutrients that help maintain a calm focus. It includes superabundant catechins that have cancer-fighting properties, provides metabolic support, and a steady sense of uplift.