By now, you’ve probably heard about matcha, but in case you haven’t, here’s what you need to know.
Matcha is a finely milled green tea powder that has gained popularity thanks to its health benefits and tasty flavour. The green tea leaves that have been stone-ground into a powder can be grown in many places. However, the best matcha is said to come from Japan (the most popular growing regions are in the southern part of the country).
What distinguishes matcha from other green teas is that matcha bushes are covered up for about 20 days hiding the leaves from direct sunlight. This is done to boost the plants’ chlorophyll levels (which turns the leaves a darker more vibrant shade of green), and increase the production of L-Theanine (an amino acid that occurs naturally in the tea plant and certain types of mushrooms). L-Theanine is the reason tea has a tendency to both calm and stimulate at the same time.
The green tea leaves that have been ground into a powder make all the difference. Once the buds are picked, the difference in the result of the tea are based on whether the leaves are rolled out flat before drying, or whether they are laid out to dry. If the leaves are rolled out they become a premium green tea named Gyokuro, while the leaves that are laid out to dry become Tencha. Tencha is the leaf used for making matcha. Once the leaf is de-veined, de-stemmed and stone-ground, it becomes the fine powder known as matcha.
Amongst its many health benefits, matcha is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCs, boosts metabolism and burns calories, detoxifies effectively and naturally, calms the mind and relaxes the body, is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and many other vitamins (including vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium), enhances mood and aids in concentration, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, and lastly, prevents disease.
. High in Antioxidants
Antioxidants are the body’s defense agents as they are chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases. The more antioxidants you get, the better equipped your body is in the fight against infections and disease. Matcha tea provides over five times as many antioxidants as any other food which makes it rated the highest by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) method.
2. Loaded with Catechin, EGCg
Green tea contains a specific set of organic compounds known as catechins. Since not all antioxidants are created equal, it’s very important to note that catechins are the most potent and beneficial. One specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) makes up 60% of the catechins in matcha tea. Out of all the antioxidants, EGCg is the most widely recognized for its cancer fighting properties. Scientists have found that Matcha tea contains over 100 times more EGCg than any other tea on the market.
3. Detoxifies the Body
As I mentioned previously, chlorophyll is a key component of matcha tea. The tremendous amount of chlorophyll that is in the leaves (of the plants that make matcha), make it a powerful detoxifier. This is why matcha tea is capable of naturally removing heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body.
4. Fights Free-Radicals
There’s a lot of damage done to our body due to free-radicals. Since matcha is grown in the shade (away from pollution), it is super rich in chlorophyll and has 137 times more antioxidants (versus other teas). This allows matcha tea to do good for the body and helps the body rid itself of free-radicals and chemicals.
Experts at Tufts University found that its ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) reveals a phenomenal 1573 units per gram; which makes it an antioxidant gold mine in comparison to pomegranates (105 units per gram) and blueberries (93 units per gram).
5. Stabilizes Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
As mentioned earlier, Matcha has a high concentration of the substance EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), which has been shown to influence the way glucose is absorbed. When matcha tea is consumed with a meal, the contents of catechins have been shown to reduce the amount of
glucose that filters through to the bloodstream. This in turn helps prevent blood sugar spikes. Many studies show evidence that EGCg also affects the metabolism, which in turn, lowers cholesterol and decreases your risk of a stroke.
6. Slows Down the Effects of Aging
By reducing inflammation and the free radicals in the body (which induce aging), the EGCg in matcha also has a positive effect on the membrane tissue in the body. This means your body’s cell-walls are strengthened by providing greater protection against toxins, and thus, results in having healthier, younger looking skin.
7. Matcha or Coffee
Matcha contains incredible immune-boosting properties in each cup. The catechins fight various bacterial, viral and fungal infections since matcha provides quantities of potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, enzymes and calcium. Matcha also contains L-theanine which assist in boosting alpha waves in the brain. These alpha waves promote mental relaxation and induce a feeling of mental clarity and a more alert state of mind. This makes it a healthier option since matcha gives both a calm feeling and mental alertness (not to mention all the other benefits mentioned in the above).
How to Drink It
There are many ways to have matcha tea, however, I’ll list the three most common.
The traditional way is to mix the powder with hot water and drink it that way. This way is the simplest, however, if you’d like to sweeten it, you can add a little bit of honey or agave syrup.
The second way to have matcha is to buy or make a matcha latte. This is done by frothing a milk of your choice (I like cashew) and mixing it in with the matcha. To sweeten, add honey or agave syrup. You can also take it up a notch and sprinkle some cinnamon.
Lastly, you can add a teaspoon or two of matcha in a smoothie or dish of your liking.
In conclusion, Matcha tea is an easy and simple way to add powerful health benefits to your daily diet.