One of the most recent additions to Western kitchens is matcha green tea. Though the Japanese have been consuming it for centuries, we are just starting to use it as a replacement to coffee and traditional black tea. This nutrient-dense elixir can support everything from blood sugar regulation to weight loss. Here are the top five benefits of matcha green tea that makes it magical.
Rich Source of Antioxidants and Nutrients
Matcha is made from quality green tea leaves and instead of steeping the tea and then discarding them, when consuming matcha green tea, we ingest the whole leaves thus getting all the nutrients available in the plant.
In addition to offering minerals and vitamins, matcha contains polyphenols, which are antioxidants known to protect against cancer and heart disease, regulate blood sugar, reduce blood pressure and prevent aging. Matcha also has Epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, a compound known to boost metabolism and halt or slow the growth of cancerous cells. This catechin is also an antioxidant that protects the body from free radicals, which are linked to liver disease, heart disease and various forms of cancers.
A more recent study claimed that matcha green tea offers around 137x the ECGC contained in regular green teas. By incorporating more antioxidants in your daily diet, you are helping your body fight illness and disease.
The slower release of caffeine
As matcha is produced from creating a powder from the whole leaves of the green tea, it gives nearly three times the caffeine that’s available from steeping the tea leaves and consuming just the tea “broth.”
Unlike the energy spike associated with brewed coffee, matcha green tea gives an “alert calm” due to a rare protein it contains called L-theanine. This compound induces relaxation without a drowsy feeling. It’s recommended to avoid drinking any form of caffeine at least six hours before bedtime so your body has a chance to wind down and fall asleep easily.
Also, if you want to avoid caffeine dependency or need help reducing stress, L-theanine makes the body absorb the caffeine more slowly. Most experts describe the feeling associated with drinking matcha tea as quiet alertness versus the jitters and shakes and then subsequent crash that can happen from brewed coffee.
Reduces stress and promotes weight loss
Traditional matcha green tea is prepared in Japanese tea ceremonies and used by Zen monks to support them in their meditation practice. If you too enjoy your matcha as part of a meditation practice, you can also experience the added benefits of becoming calmer and more present.
Cortisol, a stress hormone that drives appetite and can increase belly fat when elevated, goes down when we meditate and that can lead to lowering inflammation, a major cause of diseases and premature aging. Matcha can also curb impulsive eating, boost compassion and self-esteem, and lower blood pressure.
A study conducted in Japan showed that green tea extract is more effective when used for weight loss due to the high concentration of matcha. The study results showed that the BMI, body weight, body fat mass, waist circumference and the subcutaneous fat area were lower in the group that used green tea extract.
Promotes Heart Health
Matcha tea is also rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that fight free radicals. Free radicals are inherently unstable atoms that take electrons from other particles to reach a state of stability, therefore, the presence of free radicals in the body leads to high oxidative stress. Free radicals also expedite degenerative processes. By fighting these free radicals, the flavonoids in matcha tea protect the lining of blood vessels and keep the cholesterol levels within the body on the lower side which in turn leads to more stable blood pressure.
Helps Prevent Cancer
A study in 2018 looked at the effect of matcha tea on the propagation of breast cancer stem cells. The study found that matcha tea indeed inhibits the proliferation of these cells by blocking glycolysis, metabolism, and multiple cell signaling pathways.
Boosts Immune Function
Besides being a rich source of antioxidants, matcha tea is also abundant in minerals and vitamins that promote the health of the body’s immune system such as vitamin C. Thus, matcha can protect us against the common cold and flu while fighting gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria associated with various stomach disorders.
Matcha comes as a bright, vibrant green powder that can be easily added to warm water for tea or added to smoothies, lattes and desserts. With this type of tea, there’s no grinding like with coffee beans, or waiting for hot water to drip down over it. To prepare matcha traditionally, you will need a few simple tools. Besides matcha powder, you’ll need a hooked bamboo scoop, a bamboo whisk, a bowl and warm water. A mesh strainer will help de-clump the powder before you start whisking it with water. If you dislike bowls, then it’s fine to use a coffee mug. The bamboo whisk is recommended as it facilitates the incorporation of the fine powder into water and provides a foamy top but is not mandatory.
If you want to avoid purchasing extra equipment and prefer a simplify method, then use a blender. Measure a 1/2-1 teaspoon of matcha powder, pour warm not hot water over it (6-8oz) and blend or use a shaker bottle like one used for protein shakes with the wire ball. Everything will get well incorporated and you’ll get a frothy top.
Matcha offers a fresh, earthy taste similar to spinach but with a bit of umami flavor. To make it more palatable, consider sweetening it with stevia or agave or adding cream or a nut creamer, just like if it was coffee or traditional black tea
Matcha green tea comes with many benefits. The only caution to be aware of is lead-contamination. Plants absorb lead naturally from the environment regardless of where they are grown in the world, but some countries are more polluted like China. When shopping for matcha, look for tea grown in Japan instead of China and stick to only one cup per day.
Erika Long loves corgis, curry and comedy. Always searching for the next great snuggle, flavor or laugh, she inspires people to live their best life now. When not writing, Erika can be found at her local brewery dominating Harry Potter trivia night.