Matcha is not only a tea. It’s food for body and soul with nutrient content unlike any other plant. It’s the only real tea in the world that is not prepared by extracting the nutrients into the water. Although today many other tea powders are available in powdered form, matcha still deserves the title of the best superfood in the world.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF
1. Matcha is the most versatile superfood in the world
Matcha can be used in numerous ways and added to almost any drink, dessert or even meat. It enhances the flavor but doesn’t overtake the dish which makes it the best ingredient for flavoring and coloring deserts and drinks.
2. Matcha is contains the high levels of EGCG
EGCG, one of the most powerful polyphenols is found in high concentrations only in Camellia sinensis. Although other green teas might have higher concentrations of EGCG in a dry leaf, only a part of it will be extracted when brewing. With matcha, you consume the whole leaf with all polyphenols, caffeine and other nutrients, and get approximately 2-4 times more than with other green tea.
3. Matcha is the only superfood that will give steady energy increase
Unlike coffee, yerba mate or guarana, matcha will give steady energy increase due to L-theanine, amino-acid that has antistress and relaxing effect, and in combination with caffeine may even help in cognately high demanding tasks.
4. Matcha is the only superfood that has a ceremonial importance
Matcha has been used for centuries in Japanese tea ceremony. Although there are other tea ceremonies in the world, highly formal tea ceremony always includes matcha.
What is Matcha Tea?
Matcha tea is a finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It’s made from special tea cultivars that give the best color and flavor. Tea plants are shaded for at least 3 weeks prior to harvesting to develop a special flavor profile and nutrient content. Matcha is harvested three times per year, with the first harvest used for ceremonial grade tea. All stems and veins are removed from the leaf. During de-veining and de-steaming leaf is cut into small flakes with a dark green color called tencha. Tencha is ground into matcha powder right before packing. Matcha particles are ground to small particles ranging from 8-20 microns. Smaller particle size of 8-10 microns will give very silky and smooth powder, reserved for ceremonial grade tea. Particle size is important when preparing matcha, if you want to get smooth, frothy and fine drink. Other grades might have bigger particles of around 10-15 microns, perfect for other uses such as cooking or making lattes.
Is Matcha tea better than loose leaf tea?
Even they all come from the same plant, not all teas are the same. Camellia sinensis is currently used for making thousands of different teas that can all be divided into six categories – white, green, oolong, yellow, black and dark.
The only tea that can compare with matcha is gyokuro green tea – but only in a dry leaf form. But nutritional values change significantly with brewing. Matcha is made from same leaf material as gyokuro, but processed in a completely different way. Although nutrient levels in a dry leaf form might be similar, the way you drink them makes a very big difference in terms of benefits.
1. Growing conditions
Matcha is shade-grown which increases the nutrient levels.
2. Processing method
Matcha is de-veined and de-steamed which increases the pure leaf weight.
3. Brewing method
Matcha is not brewed, it’s prepared. Antioxidants, caffeine and L-theanine need certain temperature to be extracted into water. With matcha, no extraction is needed as you drink the whole leaf.
Camellia sinensis is the only plant in the world that contains EGCG in high concentrations. Amount of EGCG decreases in more processed teas like oolong or black. EGCG is best extracted at higher temperatures, rarely used for brewing green tea.
Studies found that matcha provided 17 mg to 109 mg of EGCG per serving. By comparison, the average brewed green tea provides 25 to 86 mg per serving. EGCG is only one of the polyphenols found in green tea, but also the one with the most potent anticancer properties.
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What are Matcha Tea benefits?
Matcha contains a concentrated amount of antioxidants which may reduce cell damage and prevent chronic diseases. For the last dozens of years, Matcha has been getting a lot of attention by science. What was before considered a grey zone, now has been backed up by hundreds of researches.
- High in antioxidants, especially EGCG
- May help protect the liver
- L-theanine and caffeine may boost brain function
- Potent anti-cancer properties
- Natural aid in weight-loss
- Anti-aging properties
- May help protect the heart
- May protect brain from Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
- Provides vitamin C, selenium, zinc and magnesium
1. High in Antioxidants
The main reason matcha is the winner among superfoods is the high level of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for stabilizing the harmful free radicals that can damage body cells and cause chronic diseases and cancer. The most important antioxidant in matcha is a catechin called EGCg. Matcha has at least 3-4 times more antioxidants than other green teas. That number can get as high as 137 time more compared to some green teas in tea bags.
Adding matcha to your daily routine is a tasty and natural way of increasing antioxidant intake and adding a layer of extra protection against cell damage.
2. Protects the liver
Liver is vital to health and plays a central role in flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs and processing nutrients. Luckily, liver is one of the organs that can be easily nourished by choosing the right ingredients.
Studies showed that matcha may be helpful in treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. However, any green tea supplements containing high doses of EGCg should be avoided as they might create an opposite effect and cause serious liver damage. While extremely beneficial in lower doses, EGCg may pose a serious danger if taken as a supplement.
3. Boosts Brain Function
Consuming matcha may help support healthy cognitive function and reduce anxiety. L-theanine and caffeine in matcha are responsible for increasing focus and improving memory.
Researchers found that green tea consumption may be effective in improving cognitive function and reducing the progression of cognitive dysfunction. Matcha may be the best natural way to prevent neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
In another study on healthy adults, those who consumed matcha showed better performance in reaction time, memory, and attention when compared with a group given a placebo.
4. Helps Prevent Cancer
Polyphenols and other antioxidants in green tea may help protect cells against cancer. Matcha is packed with health-promoting compounds, including some that have been linked to cancer prevention in test-tube and animal studies. Recent researched opened an opportunity for matcha being used instead of common cancer treatments because it may be able to stop cancer cells from growing.
However, more research is needed for doctors to know if these compounds can help prevent or delay the disease and can they be used effectively as a treatment.
5. Aiding Weight-loss
Matcha may support healthy weight-loss in a number of ways. By replacing sugary drinks with matcha you are significantly lowering sugar intake.
Matcha should not be taken as a weight-loss supplement, but may be helpful in achieving healthy weight-loss goals more efficiently. Some studies suggest that matcha may contribute to weight-loss and gaining lean muscle, if combined with regular exercising and healthy diet. Matcha might be the most beneficial to people with BMI higher than 25.
6. Anti-aging Properties
Aging is a concern of every person in the world. Not only does aging influence skin and appearance, it also influences our internal organs and controls our lifespan. Green tea might be linked with a longer lifespan of people in Asia.
Research showeAd that green tea is able to delay collagen aging, and that it may also be used as an anti-wrinkle agent in photoaged skin. Although more research is needed, available results are promising enough to consider tea as a part of an anti-aging regime.
7. May help protecting heart
Drinking tea might have a good impact on cardiovascular health. Cardiovascular health depends on many factors, from fitness level to diet. Matcha green tea might prove to be one of the best natural teas to provide consistent and multiple benefits in a safe way. One research in China showed that drinking green tea was associated with the reduced risk of heart disease. Caution is needed however, because overdose on matcha tea, or any tea in fact, is strongly discouraged.
8. Brain protective function
Matcha green tea might provide a brain protective function and help in preventing neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Both neuroprotective and neurorescue properties of EGCg have been researched in a study published in Nutritional Journal in 2016. Caffeine might be responsible for preventive role as well. Caffeine is also able to reduce pain and headaches and is often an ingredient in many pain-relief medicine.
9. A source of other vitamins and minerals
Matcha contains iron, zinc, calcium magnesium, beta-carotene, potassium, folic acid, vitamin C and other minerals and vitamins. It also contains fiber.
How to make Matcha Tea?
Matcha is the most versatile tea in the world. It can be prepared with hot or cold water, any type of milk milk, still or sparkling water and used in almost any dessert and dish in the world. A cup of hot matcha in the morning will provide amout 60 mg of caffeine and give a steady energy boost.
What is Catechin EGCg?
Matcha Tea contains a specific set of organic compounds known as catechins. Among all antioxidants, catechins are the most potent and beneficial ones. A specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg) makes up 60% of the catechins in Matcha Green Tea. EGCg in high amounts is found only in Camellia sinensis, especially in green tea. Levels of EGCg significantly drop in more processed teas.
Out of all the antioxidants, EGCg is the most widely recognized for its cancer fighting properties. Every tea is different, and every matcha is different so levels of EGCg will differ in each matcha tea, but will always be higher in a cup of matcha than in a cup of any other brewed tea.
EGCg is extracted at higher temperatures, usually unsuitable for brewing green tea. It’s one of the compounds that gives bitter taste as well. To extract the highest amounts of EGCg from loose leaf tea, you would need to brew tea with temperatures higher than 70 degrees Celsius, for longer than 3 minutes, even for a several hours. This is where matcha comes in. It already has higher levels of EGCg because of specific growing, harvesting and processing methods, and it offers a chance to ingest all EGCg from the leaf.
If other green teas are bitter, why matcha isn’t?
Every good matcha should have a good balance of bitterness and sweetness. Matcha is brewed with around 80 degrees Celsius to prevent extreme bitterness and extract sweet notes. Using Japanese whisk to make a delicate froth is an essential step in preventing bitterness.
How to preserve the levels of EGCg in Matcha tea?
Because matcha is a silky fine powder, it will detoriate much faster than other teas. That means it will also loose EGCg. To keep matcha as fresh as possible, always use your package within 1-2 months of opening. If you bough a larger package of matcha tea, transfer a smaller amount into a tin and store tightly sealed bigger package away from heat, mold, direct sunlight and moisture. Unopened packages should be stored in the fridge. Never scoop matcha with wet utensils and always keep tins and bags closed.
Are there any side effects of drinking Matcha Tea?
Drinking green tea and matcha are considered healthy and safe. Matcha should be avoided by people sensitive to caffeine and pregnant and breastfeeding women. A cup of properly prepared matcha will have around 60 mg of caffeine. Those levels can differ and could be lower in teas from later harvests. Drinking matcha to benefit from EGCg is also considered safe, but taking EGCg supplements can potentially be lethal. A safe daily dose of EGCg is around 500-800mg, an amount provided in 3-5 cups of matcha tea.
How To Choose Matcha Tea?
Cultivation of Matcha is a unique process. In order to preserve its delicate and fresh flavor and extraordinary nutrients farms need to follow the best practice for growing, harvesting and producing tea. The best way to see the difference between low grade and high grade matcha is judging the color. Ceremonial Grade will have more vibrant and deep green color and less bitterness than lower grades. Color of a lower grade matcha can range from green to yellow and light brown. All Ceremonial Grade matcha comes from Japan.
Learn more about matcha tea before purchasing from our matcha tea buyer’s guide.