An introduction to Matcha Tea
Matcha generally means “powdered tea.” With the traditional green tea, constituents from the leaves are instilled into the hot water and the leaves are disposed of.
When it comes to Matcha, you are consuming the actual leaves, which were finely pulverized and prepared into a solution, customarily by combining with a teaspoon of Matcha with a third cup of hot water. This is whisked using a bamboo brush until it starts to froth.
The difference between Matcha with traditional green tea is preparation. With the preparation of Matcha, it involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before harvesting.
This allows the growth of leaves with better texture and flavor. The leaves are carefully chosen, steamed momentarily to cease the fermentation process, and allowed to dry and age in cold storage, which aids in intensifying the flavor. The dried leaves are stone-grounded into a fine powder.
Today, you can find Matcha in almost any health food store or even in groceries. The increasing popularity of Matcha has its basis, and it is time to take a look at the proven ways matcha tea improves your health today.
Important facts about Matcha
Before I share how matcha tea improves your overall health, let us first examine essential things you should know about Matcha to have a good start, especially for those who are not familiar with Matcha yet.
Offers several health benefits
Matcha is a potent source of nutrients. Aside from the small amounts of vitamins and minerals it provides, Matcha is rich in antioxidants, specifically polyphenols, linked to protection against specific ailments. Another polyphenol in Matcha is EGCG, which is known to improve metabolism and slow or stop cancer cells’ growth.
Matcha contains caffeine
Since you are ingesting whole leaves in Matcha, you will gain a higher caffeine level than a cup of steeped tea. Those who love matcha claim that it provides an “alert calm” due to a natural substance known as l-theanine, which stimulates relaxation without a drowsy effect.
Nevertheless, I suggest not drinking any form of caffeine-based beverages at least six hours before bedtime if you want to get a good night’s sleep.
It traditionally involves meditation.
Matcha’s preparation process is the center of Japanese tea rituals and has long been linked with Zen. This might be one reason why it is becoming popular since meditation is becoming more mainstream.
If preparing and drinking Matcha becomes a way for you to maintain a steady pace, the benefits go beyond the antioxidants it provides.
Take note that meditation, in any form, can provide a variety of benefits. It has been shown to lower cortisol, reduce inflammation, reduce impulsive eating, lower blood pressure, and improve self-esteem.
The quality of Matcha varies and can be sweetened.
It is important to note that the flavor of Matcha is quite strong. For some, they describe it as grass or spinach-like and have an umami taste. Due to this, it can be sweetened to improve its palatability.
According to experts, quality is the key to Matcha and usually comes at a cost. With top quality, fresh, pure Matcha, it will fetch a higher price tag.
Possible lead contamination
Even green tea that is organically grown has been shown to contain lead, which is absorbed by the plant from the environment, especially tea cultivated in China.
When traditional green tea is steeped, around 90% of the lead remains in the leaf, which is discarded. As for Matcha, since the entire leaf is consumed, you are likely to ingest more lead.
One study estimated that a cup of Matcha can contain 30 times more lead than a cup of green tea. With this in mind, it is recommended to drink no more than a cup daily, and it should not be given to children.
Matcha can be included in meals.
Matcha is enjoyed as a beverage and as an ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes. If you search online, you will be surprised to find various recipes containing Matcha, such as brownies, muffins, puddings, soups, and even stir-fry.
What are the proven ways matcha tea improves your health?
As Matcha’s popularity skyrocketed in recent years, you can readily find it in health stores, groceries, and coffee shops.
Just like green tea, Matcha is derived from the plant Camellia sinensis. The only difference is how it is cultivated and has a distinctive nutrient profile.
When the plants are cultivated, farmers cover the tea plants 20-30 days before harvesting to avoid direct exposure to sunlight. This is to increase the production of chlorophyll, boosting the amino acid content and giving the plant a darker greenish hue.
After the plants are gathered, the veins and stems are removed while the leaves are pulverized into a powder known as Matcha. Take note that Matcha includes the nutrients from the whole tea leaf, which contains a significant level of caffeine and antioxidants than green tea.
I will now share below proven ways matcha tea can boost your overall health, all based on science.
Rich in Antioxidants
Matcha is packed with catechins, a class of plant compounds present in tea that function as natural antioxidants. Take note that antioxidants stabilize harmful free radicals, which are compounds that can damage the cells and result in chronic ailments.
In one study, the amount of particular catechins in Matcha is significantly higher than in other green tea types. Another study involving mice given matcha supplements revealed that it lessened the damage brought about by free radicals and improved antioxidant activity.
When matcha powder is added to hot water to prepare tea, it contains all the entire leaf nutrients. I highly recommend including matcha tea in your diet to increase your intake of antioxidants. This will help prevent cell damage and even lower the risk of several chronic ailments.
Protect the Liver
The liver has an essential role in our health and is responsible for clearing toxins, sorting nutrients, and metabolizing medications. In some studies, it was found that Matcha can help protect the health of your liver.
In one study, diabetic rats were given Matcha for 16 weeks, and it was found out that it helped prevent damage to both the liver and kidneys. Additionally, an analysis of 15 studies revealed that the consumption of green tea was linked to a lowered risk of developing liver disease.
However, there might be other factors involved in the results of the studies. Further research is necessary to closely look into the effects of Matcha on the general population.
Boosting Brain Function
Based on studies, it revealed that the several components of Matcha could help improve brain function.
One study involving the consumption of 2 grams of green tea powder daily for 2 months helped improve brain function among older individuals.
Matcha contains a concentrated amount of caffeine than green tea. Several studies have associated caffeine consumption with improvement in brain function, specifically increased attention, faster reaction times, and improved memory.
Prevention of Cancer
Matcha is rich in health-promoting compounds, including those associated with cancer prevention in a test tube and animal trials.
Matcha is packed with epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin with potent anti-cancer properties. In test-tube and animal studies, the compounds in Matcha can inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Promoting Heart Health
One of the leading causes of death globally is heart disease. Some studies have shown that drinking green tea, which has the same nutrient profile as Matcha, can protect against heart disease.
In one study, green tea has been shown to lower total and LDL cholesterol levels, including triglycerides in the body. It can also help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, which is another element that can protect against heart disease.
When complemented with a well-balanced diet and wholesome lifestyle, including matcha tea, it can help keep your heart in good shape and guard against diseases.
Help Cut Down Weight.
In most supplements that promote weight loss, there is a good likelihood that you will find “green tea extract” as one of the ingredients.
Green tea is popular for its ability to improve weight loss. Studies revealed that it could speed up metabolism to increase energy consumption and boost the burning of fat.
One study revealed that the intake of green tea extract while engaging in moderate exercise promotes increased fat burning.
Although most of the studies focused on green tea extract, Matcha is derived from the same plant and should provide the same effect.
Quick and Simple Preparation
It is easy to enjoy the health benefits of Matcha, and it tastes delicious. When preparing the traditional matcha tea, I suggest sifting 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder into a cup, adding 2 ounces of hot water, and combining it using a bamboo whisk.
Depending on your preferred consistency, you can adjust the ratio of matcha powder to water. If you prefer a weak tea, lessen the matcha powder to only half a teaspoon and combine with 3-4 ounces of hot water. For a concentrated variant, mix two teaspoons of matcha powder with 1 ounce of water.
In case you feel creative, you can prepare matcha lattes, protein smoothies, or puddings to boost your favorite recipes’ nutrient content.
Do not forget that moderation is the key. Although Matcha is packed with health benefits, more is not necessarily better. Take note that liver problems have been reported among those who consume large amounts of green tea daily.
The maximum acceptable intake of matcha powder remains uncertain and usually varies for each individual. If you want to stay safe, I recommend consuming matcha tea in moderation.
I suggest sticking with 1-2 cups per day and using the certified organic variants to get the most out of the health benefits without undesirable side effects.
Matcha is derived from a similar plant as green tea, but it is packed with a highly concentrated number of antioxidants and useful plant compounds
since it is processed from the whole leaf.
Studies revealed various health benefits linked with Matcha and its components, ranging from lowering the risk of heart disease, improving brain function to boosting weight loss.
The best part about matcha tea is the simple preparation it requires. The beverage can be easily incorporated into your diet and provide your day with a surge of extra flavor along with the health benefits over time.