In recent years, matcha tea, a traditional Japanese drink, skyrocketed to popularity. These days, there is a lot of matcha infused food from muffins to ice cream. Variation of drinks also does exist from tea to smoothie and latte.
The term matcha, according to Oxford Living Dictionary comes from the combination of Japanese, from Matsu ‘to rub’ + cha ‘tea,’ from Chinese ( Mandarin dialect). Like green tea, it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. However, matcha is grown differently from green tea. It is covered 20-30 days before harvest preventing sunlight and chlorophyll.
Matcha: a miracle supplement?
As mentioned earlier, matcha is everywhere. There are perhaps hundreds of recipes for dishes and desserts. The matcha powder can be added to pretty much anything – sprinkle a few teaspoons of it to an avocado ice cream or cake batter. One can also add a teaspoon or two to a salad dressing and even mix it to a casserole or curry dish.
However, matcha powder is delicate. It should be stored tightly and must not be left on an open jar by the kitchen counter. If exposed to heat and air, this powerful powder will lose its antioxidant properties, flavor, and freshness.
People can’t get enough of this healthy drink. But is matcha worth the hype? Let’s see.
There have been many kinds of research that have shown its nutritional gains. Here are the top 10 of its best-known benefits.
The top 10 Matcha Tea benefits
1. Burns calories
Many fitness and health enthusiasts claim that green tea helps boost one’s metabolism. Its antioxidant feature helps speed up one’s metabolic rate, resulting in energy burned even when inactive.
But because one only steeps the tea leaves in water, he doesn’t get all the benefits it gives. Whereas if one drinks matcha tea, he consumes the leaf in the whole form, thus obtaining the concentrated source of nutrients from the plant.
2. Calms the mind
For centuries, it has been reported that Buddhist monks drink matcha to meditate fully and achieve calm and focused thinking. The tea contains large doses of an amino acid called L-theanine. It has been said that even the act of preparing this drink helps ease stress and lower anxiety.
3. Detoxifies the body
One of the natural ways to detoxify the body is to drink green tea. An even more effective way to cleanse the body and get rid of free radicals is a daily dose of matcha tea. To detox the body, the tea filters the blood and takes out all impurities and toxins. With clean blood, one becomes more energetic and active.
4. Enhances concentration
Aside from the anti-aging and antioxidant properties, matcha also contains L-theanine. L-theanine is unique to tea in helping one calms down and focuses on his task. As a cup of brewed green tea contains about 9 mg of L-theanine, matcha, on the other hand, has a high concentration of this amino acid at 40 mg per cup.
L-theanine is found to improve one’s disposition and reduce anxiety. It also has a significant effect to help one concentrate more, improve his understanding, and remember facts and figures. When combined with caffeine, it gives the drinker more stable energy because L-theanine slows down the release of caffeine into the bloodstream. It opposes the effect of coffee to the body which tends to release caffeine in a rush, making one slow down after just an hour or two.
5. Lowers blood sugar and cholesterol
The active ingredient Epigallocatechin Gallate or EGCG in matcha is proven effective to decrease cholesterol absorption. It is also reported to help improve blood sugar metabolism and reduce the risk for diabetes. Though these are only from research, many cases have been reported to associate matcha to improve glucose metabolism.
6. Packed with antioxidant
Though a variety of vegetables and fruits contain natural antioxidants, nothing compares with matcha.
From a recent antioxidant research, claims have it that matcha tea includes the potent class of antioxidant known as catechins.
Including matcha tea in one’s diet increases his antioxidant intake, helping him lower his risk for possible chronic diseases. A matcha powder added in hot water to make a tea contains all the nutrients from the whole leaf as opposed to soaking green tea leaves in water.
7. Prevents disease
There are a number of population-based studies made to people who had matcha tea and compare their health outcomes to a group of individuals who didn’t drink it. Results show that another health gain of drinking matcha tea is the prevention of arthritis, heart diseases, and diabetes.
The EGCG in matcha is alleged to have cancer-fighting effects on the body, too.
8. Protects from infections
The EGCG in matcha is also a powerful class compound in tea that acts as a natural antioxidant. Antioxidant defends the body against free radicals from the likes of UV rays, radiation, pollution, chemicals. These free radicals damage the cells, thus cause bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
9. Provides vitamins and minerals
Matcha tea covers more than 10 times the vitamins one can get from traditional white and black tea drinks and even from regular green tea. It also provides a high level of dietary fiber and nutrients, even higher than one’s favorite fruits and vegetables.
10. Reduces stress levels
The high levels of the amino acid L-theanine in matcha tea have been shown to relax the mind and improve mood. Adding this powerful amino acid to one’s diet helps in reducing the anxiety level one is experiencing. It also reduces one’s mental stress and creates a calm state of thinking.
Matcha is another variant of green tea made from young tea leaves. These leaves are powdered into a bright green powder which becomes the drink itself poured with hot water. Taking a matcha tea is similar to drinking coffee wherein the coffee powder is blended into the water.
With a regular green tea, however, its leaves are infused in water then removed to savor its taste and aroma. Studies of matcha have unearthed its a dozen and more benefits. Many attest, too, of its health benefits. Perhaps it is your time to discover the many benefits of matcha tea.