You’ve probably heard of matcha, a type of green tea that’s been around since the 12th century,1 but only recently gained significant popularity. Matcha-infused recipes have become the trend nowadays. But what exactly is this bitter, green powder, and what can it do for your health? Read on to find out why matcha green tea deserves all the hype that it gets.
What Is Matcha Green Tea?
Known for its vibrant green color, rich grassy taste and numerous health benefits, matcha is the powdered form of green tea that’s traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Zen monasteries favored matcha because of its ability to help enhance mental alertness and presence of mind, while promoting a calm, meditative state at the same time.2
It’s said that the best organic matcha green tea powder comes from southern regions of Japan, particularly Uji, Nishio, Shizuoka and Kyushu.3 Similar to other tea varieties, matcha green tea is also made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, which is native to Southwest China.
What sets these tea varieties apart are their processing methods and degree of oxidation. Even matcha and the regular green tea have several distinct differences when it comes to cultivation, harvest, production and nutritional profile.
To produce organic matcha green tea, the tea bushes must be shaded from sunlight 20 to 30 days before harvest. Protecting the leaves from direct sunlight stimulates the production of amino acids and increases the chlorophyll levels, which makes the leaves turn dark green.
After the finest leaves are harvested by hand, they are steamed to stop fermentation, which preserves their color and health benefits, and then their stems and veins are removed.4,5 The leaves are then dried and aged in a cold storage before being stone-ground on a granite block until they turn into fine powder.
Unlike other tea variants, which are served by soaking the tea leaves in hot water, matcha green tea is prepared by whisking the powder in hot water until a layer of froth is formed. I personally prefer this type of tea because the entire leaves are basically ingested in powdered form when drinking, which is exactly what makes matcha more beneficial versus regular green tea .
Discover the Numerous Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
The unique cultivation and production of matcha are not just responsible for its rich flavor and vibrant coloring, but also for its nutritional value. Here are some of the health benefits of matcha green tea:
Enhances cognitive function and concentration: Matcha contains high amounts of L-theanine, an amino acid that may help improve your memory and concentration by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.6,7
Provides a significant amount of antioxidants: Matcha is an excellent source of antioxidants, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG),8 which is a catechin that may help fight the negative effects of free radicals to protect your cells and tissues against damage. It's also found to be helpful in reducing inflammation.9
Provides a calming effect: The L-theanine content of matcha improves the production of alpha waves in the brain, which helps induce mental relaxation and reduce stress levels.10
Boosts energy levels and endurance: Matcha contains a healthy form of caffeine, which may help improve energy levels and endurance without any adverse side effects.11
Aids in weight loss: Drinking matcha may help increase your metabolic rate, allowing your body to burn fat more efficiently.
Exercising right after drinking matcha green tea may increase the fat-burning rate by up to 25 percent.13
Strengthens the immune system: Aside from being rich in antioxidants and L-theanine, matcha also contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals.
Collectively, these nutrients may help boost your immune system and protect your body against bacterial infections and viruses.
Improves eye health: A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that the catechins in matcha green tea may also be absorbed by different parts of the eyes, reducing your risk of glaucoma and other eye diseases.14
In addition to the benefits mentioned above, research also suggests that matcha green tea can help fight different illnesses, including heart diseases, Type 2 diabetes, liver disorders and several types of cancer.15,16
What Makes the Caffeine Content in Matcha Green Tea Different?
As with other types of tea, matcha contains caffeine. A half-teaspoon of matcha powder has 35 milligrams of caffeine, which is slightly higher than the content of regular green tea but still lower than that of coffee.
Even though both coffee and matcha green tea contain caffeine, their effects on your energy level and mental clarity are different. Unlike coffee, which may cause energy crashes, nervousness and jitteriness, matcha green tea may help improve brain function without any adverse side effects, thanks to its catechins and L-theanine content.
The larger catechin molecules tend to bind with caffeine, slowing down its release into the bloodstream. This leads to stabilized energy levels and prolonged energy-boosting effects. L-theanine also helps sustain the release and counteract the negative effects of caffeine, while inducing mental clarity and alertness at the same time.17,18,19,20
Matcha Green Tea Nutrition Facts
There is no denying that matcha is one of the most nutritious foods available today. To give you a better idea of the other health benefits matcha green tea has to offer, take a look at its nutrition facts:21
|Total Fat||0 g||0%|
|Saturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Polysaturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Monounsaturated Fat||0 g||0%|
|Trans Fat||0 g
|Total Carbohydrates||0 g||0%|
|Dietary Fiber||0 g||0%|
|Vitamin A 6%||Vitamin C||3%|
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs
Here’s How You Can Make Your Own Cup of Matcha Green Tea
As mentioned above, matcha is prepared differently than other types of tea. Preparing a traditional bowl of matcha may seem difficult, but it’s actually quite simple.
In the traditional Japanese way, a bamboo spoon called shashaku is used to measure the amount of tea that will be mixed with hot water in a heated tea bowl. The mixture is then whisked using a special bamboo whisk, which is known as a chasen, until it becomes frothy.23 If you don’t have these accessories, a small conventional whisk and a ceramic bowl will do.
There are three different ways to prepare matcha: standard, usucha and koicha. The standard matcha tea involves mixing one teaspoon of matcha powder with 2 ounces of hot water.
Usucha is a thin concoction that you can make by mixing a half teaspoon of matcha with 3 to 4 ounces of hot water. Koicha, on the other hand, is a thicker form of matcha green tea that’s made by mixing 2 teaspoons of matcha in 1 ounce of hot water — this type of matcha is commonly used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Now that you know how to prepare matcha green tea, you should put your knowledge to the test by trying this matcha green tea smoothie recipe:
Energy-Boosting Coconut Matcha Green Tea
1. Using a blender, blend together the hot tea and coconut oil.
2. Carefully touch the mixture with your finger to test the temperature. If it's too hot to touch, then it needs to cool a little longer before you add the whey protein powder (to avoid damaging the nutrients).
3. Once it's at a temperature you can comfortably touch, add the protein powder and cinnamon. Blend again. Enjoy!
Note: Different brands of whey protein powders have varying levels of nutritional content and sweetness. Try adding 2 tablespoons first and then adjust to your preferred taste.
There are many other matcha green tea recipes that you can choose from. Whether you want a traditional matcha drink or a matcha-infused dessert, I recommend you make one on your own to ensure that you’re using only high-quality ingredients from organic sources.
What’s the Proper Way to Store Matcha Green Tea?
The typical shelf life of unopened matcha green tea is one year. However, its lifespan decreases once you’ve opened its packaging, so it’s best to consume it as soon as you can. In case you want to save some for later, make sure that you store it properly to preserve its nutritional value.
Keep in mind that this delicate powdered tea should not be exposed to heat, air and sunlight. Transfer it to a dry, airtight container to prevent contamination, and then put it in the fridge or a dark and cool cabinet.24,25
Possible Side Effects of Matcha Green Tea
Just because matcha green tea is great for you doesn’t mean that it’s beneficial to drink it all day long. Keep in mind that consuming excessive amounts of green tea may lead to undesirable side effects, including:
• Upset stomach
• Iron deficiency
• Kidney and/or liver damage
Even though the caffeine content of matcha is generally safer than that of coffee, too much of it may still cause side effects, especially in people who are sensitive to caffeine. Some of the caffeine-related side effects that matcha may cause include headache, irritability, insomnia, heartburn and nervousness.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, as well as individuals with psychological disorders, kidney problems, heart diseases and liver disorders, are advised to avoid matcha green tea. If you have any concerns about the possible side effects of matcha, consult your doctor first before making it a part of your regular diet.26
Make Sure That Your Matcha Green Tea Powder Comes From Reputable Sources
Not all matcha green tea available in the market contains the same amount of nutrients. Some of the matcha that comes from China, Pakistan and India may contain high levels of metals, including lead, fluoride and aluminum. If these metals accumulate in the body, they may cause serious health problems like Alzheimer’s disease.
I suggest that you buy matcha green tea from reputable Japanese sources to ensure that the cultivation, harvesting and production methods required to produce high-quality matcha powder are observed. You should also look for a product with an organic certification to guarantee that it’s processed in a way that will not damage your health.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Matcha Green Tea
Q: Where can you buy matcha green tea powder?
A: Matcha green tea powder is widely available in groceries nowadays because of its growing popularity. When buying one, choose a product that's cultivated in Japan instead of China or India, and double-check to ensure that it's organic.
Q: What's the difference between matcha and green tea?
A: Matcha and regular green tea differ in flavor, texture, color, preparation method and nutritional profile. Since green tea is basically dried leaves, it has a dull brown color and gritty texture. Matcha, on the other hand, comes in a fine and velvety bright green powder. In terms of taste, premium-grade matcha tends to be more palatable than green tea.
Q: Is matcha green tea good for you?
A: Matcha green tea is great for your overall health, since it's loaded with antioxidants, amino acids and other nutrients that may provide various health benefits, such as enhanced brain function, better mood, higher energy levels and improved immune system, among others.
Q: Does matcha green tea have caffeine?
A: Just like other tea variants, matcha green tea also contains caffeine, which is why it helps boost energy levels and endurance. Its caffeine content is a bit higher than green tea but still lower than coffee, so the usual side effects of stimulants shouldn't be a concern, especially if you only drink it in moderate amounts.
Q: How much matcha green tea is safe to drink per day?
A: The daily recommended consumption amounts of matcha depend on a variety of factors, including your diet, lifestyle and health conditions. In general, one to three cups per day is enough to keep your health in check and boost your energy levels without the risk of adverse effects.29
Q: When should you drink matcha green tea?
A: Avoid drinking matcha early in the morning or on an empty stomach. Doing so may lead to stomach upset and nausea because of its ability to increase stomach acid. You should also avoid consuming it before bedtime, since its caffeine content boosts energy and alertness, which may hinder you from getting a good night's sleep.
The best time to drink matcha green tea is before exercising or going to work. This gives you the energy and mental clarity that you need in order to perform your activities more efficiently. It's also ideal to drink matcha 30 to 45 minutes before or after a meal to allow for proper absorption of nutrients in the body.30
Q: How can you use matcha green tea?
A: You may either consume matcha the traditional way, which involves whisking it into a bowl of hot water, or you may also opt to add it into different beverages and desserts. Make sure that you only mix it with organic ingredients to make the most out of its health benefits.
Source: mercola rss