What Is Matcha Tea?
Matcha or maccha is a finely ground, bright emerald-green tea powder.
It is a natural, organic green tea which has been the heart of the famous Japanese tea ceremony for over 900 years.
The Buddhist monks honored matcha tea as the ‘health elixir’ for its potential to heighten the concentration and enhance the metabolism.
Originating in China in 9th century, matcha was used as drug for curing various ailments. However, its word somehow got elapsed in China.
It was only after the Zen Buddhist monks from Japan realized its true potential at the end of twelfth century. The perfection in the cultivation of matcha picked up.
Matcha is still scarcely grown accounting for just 0.6% of total tea yield.
Matcha is prepared from a high-quality shade-grown leaf known as tencha.
The tea bushes are sheltered to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows down the growth of the plants.
This provides the leaves with a darker shade of green and stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids.
Harvesting of matcha is done by hand to ensure selection of youngest and smallest leaves for the finest quality tea.
Unlike other green teas, leaves used for matcha are briefly steamed to protect them from oxidation and preserve its flavor and nutritional content.
This is followed by ultra-fine milling of the tencha leaves by using granite stone mills resulting in a beautiful green powder which is the raw material for matcha tea.
After being prized in Japan for scores of years.
Recently matcha has been gaining recognition in the western world attributing to its unique flavor and remarkable therapeutic qualities.
Nutritional Value Of Matcha Tea
Matcha is rich in components with super antioxidant activity including polyphenols, catechins and chlorophyll.
Presence of amino acids such as L-theanine and theophylline in the matcha tea makes it a multi nutrient-packed drink.
Health Benefits Of Match Tea
High in Antioxidants
We’ve all read this word before.
Antioxidants are the magical nutrients and enzymes responsible for fighting against the negative effects of UV radiation, giving us younger-looking skin.
And preventing a number of life-threatening maladies.
Antioxidants are something that all health-conscious individuals seek from such foods as raw fruits, green veggies, and (let’s not forget) dark chocolate.
The first amazing benefit of Matcha Green Tea is that just one bowl provides over 5 times as many antioxidants as any other food – the highest rated by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) method.
Increases Energy Levels and Endurance
Samurai, the noble warriors of medieval and early-modern Japan, drank Matcha Green Tea before going into battle due to the tea’s energizing properties.
While all green tea naturally contains caffeine, the energy boost received from Matcha is largely due to its unique combination of other nutrients.
The increased endurance from a bowl of Matcha Green Tea can last up to 6 hours and because of the effects of L-Theanine, Matcha drinkers experience none of the usual side-effects of stimulants such as nervousness and hypertension.
It’s good, clean energy.
Relaxes Both the Body and Mind
It is no wonder why Japanese Zen Buddhists took Matcha as a means to relax and meditate and remaining alert at the same time.
This higher state of consciousness can be attributed to higher levels of L-theanine. Which is much more present in Matcha than other types of green tea.
This amino acid is found in the Matcha leaves, and it causes an easier production of alpha waves in the brain.
Unlike many other “downers” that cause drowsiness such as coffee, it increases alertness and clarity of the mind.
L-theanine has an ability to modify the caffeine effects in the body.
Moreover, Matcha is reported to counterbalance the “nervous” effects of caffeine, thus inducing a more relaxed and milder mood.
In addition to improving cognitive functions, powdered Matcha green tea is also capable of slowing down the decline of age-related cognitive functions.
Not only can it slow down the decline, but it can also improve brain function.
As mentioned before, Matcha green tea is powerful for it is packed with antioxidants, which fight free radicals.
These free radicals are the main cause of damaging our cells and changing our DNA.
As a result, they cause accelerated aging.
Even though the science has become a powerful way of fighting many diseases. You can notice there are cases of early deaths even in the today’s world.
Drinking green tea proved to be of great help when it comes to prolonging life in a natural and healthy way.
Namely, in a study conducted on the Japanese adults. Those who were drinking 5 or more cups per day significantly reduced the chance of dying during the period of 11 years.
Not only did it reduce the death rate from heart disease and stroke. But it also reduced the death rate of all causes.
Moreover, the percentages were higher for women than for men.
In yet another study conducted on the Japanese. The elderly people ages 65-84 years who consumed green tea were less likely to die over the 6-year period.
Taking all these into account, no wonder why many consider this tea a “superfood”.
Detoxifies the Body
During the last three weeks before tea leaves are harvested to be made into Matcha, Camellia sinensis are covered to deprive them of sunlight.
This causes a tremendous increase in chlorophyll production in the new growth of these plants.
The resulting high levels of chlorophyll in Matcha Green Tea not only give this tea its beautiful vibrant green color.
Matcha is also a powerful detoxifier capable of naturally removing heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body.
Matcha assists in the prevention of cancer attributing to the presence of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Which has chemopreventive properties.
Multiple studies have shown that polyphenols present in matcha tea prevents the proliferation of malignant cancerous cells.
Promotes induction of apoptosis and assists in the reducing the risk of developing various cancers including bladder cancer and colorectal cancer
Apart from healthy gains, matcha is widely popular as an ingredient in a range of food items.
Matcha is used to add flavor to a variety of western-style confectionary items including chocolates, cakes, candies, cookies and green tea ice-creams.
Recently, a number of famous cafes in North America and around have introduced matcha based drinks such as smoothies, milk shakes, lattes and alcoholic beverages..
EGCG exerts inhibitory activities and works against the progression of human breast and prostate tumors as well.
Researchers aren’t entirely certain how Matcha Green Tea has such a positive effect on cholesterol.
However studies of different populations have show that people who drink Match Green Tea on a regular basis have lower levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. While at the same time displaying higher levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
Men who drink Matcha Green Tea are about 11% less likely to develop heart disease than those who don’t drink Matcha.
Matcha green tea contains up to 5 times more L-theanine than conventional green tea. L-theanine is an amino acid with psychoactive properties. Capable of inducing alpha wave activity in the brain.
Stress is known to induce the brain’s beta wave activity, leading to a more agitated state.
Alpha wave activity can relieve stress, promote relaxation and even lower blood pressure.
Although matcha contains some caffeine, the relaxing properties of L-theanine counterbalance the “jittery” effects of caffeine.
Therefore, a cup of matcha green tea promotes concentration and clarity of mind without producing any of the nervous energy typically associated with coffee.
Make the perfect cup of matcha tea hot or cold!
Add 1/2 teaspoon (1g) into a cup and then pour in the hot water (not boiling). And then whisk for around 30 seconds until the matcha has dissolved into the water.
Tip: Add a splash of the hot water in first then whisk the matcha into a paste and then gradually add the rest of the hot water whilst whisking.
Add 1/2 teaspoon (1g) to a water bottle, shake thoroughly then add lemon, lime or mint leaves to flavour.
This is by far the simplest and most refreshing way to drink matcha.
And it’s our favourite choice for when you’re hitting the gym or need a quick matcha fix when you’re on the go.
The iconic matcha bamboo whisk is the best way to whisk up your matcha as the whisk has been made specifically for matcha. And it helps create the delicious layer of froth like no other whisk can.
But if you don’t have one you can simply use an electric whisk or a small metal whisk.
Using a spoon will work to some degree but you’ll find it very hard to fully dissolve the matcha powder.
If you have no whisk to hand you should make the matcha in a bottle, shake thoroughly and then pour into your cup.
Hot water advice
When making matcha green tea you should avoid using boiling water as this damages the delicate green tea leaves. And it can lower the amount of nutrients you’ll consume.
Water boils at 100C/212F but for matcha tea you’ll find that 80C/175F is the perfect temperature to use. And this can be achieved by stopping the kettle before it starts to boil.
You can add cold water to a cup of boiling water to lower the temperature.
Adding cold water is by far the easiest way but you can of course leave the boiling water to cool down naturally although this may take 5-10 minutes.
How much matcha tea should I drink a day?
Matcha does contain caffeine and you can find out more about matcha vs coffee here.
Matcha contains roughly half the amount of caffeine than a typical cup of coffee. So to avoid consuming too much caffeine you should limit yourself to 3 grams per day which is 3 servings of matcha green tea powder.
How else can I drink
The most captivating and interesting thing about matcha is that you’re not limited to just drinking it as a tea, hot or cold.
No, matcha can be used in almost anything you can think of.
From noodles to pancakes, matcha is an extremely versatile superfood.