There’s nothing more on trend in the food scene right now than matcha. It’s in everything from smoothies to cakes to ice cream. But what’s the hype? Turns out matcha has some amazing benefits. Probably not when mixed into a cake batter. But, mixed into hot water, matcha can do wonders for our mind and body. Here’s why you should include it in your daily routine.
How Is Matcha Different From Other Green Tea?
Matcha is made from the same plant as black and white tea. The differences lie in the way the plant is grown and processed. In the last 20 weeks before harvest, the matcha plants are covered and grown in the shade. This boosts their chlorophyll levels and turns the leaves that signature green color that we’re all familiar with.
From here, the leaves are dried as usual but instead of being packed into tea bags or cut up into loose leaf tea, the whole leaves are ground into a fine powder. Unlike other teas, where the leaves are strained out, here the powder is simply whisked in with hot water.
What Are The Benefits Of Matcha?
Matcha is full of antioxidants called catechins and polyphenols that are also present in regular green tea. A key player is a compound called epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG. So why matcha over green tea? Matcha can have up to 3 times more EGCG than regular green tea, so evidently it packs quite the punch. Here are some of the benefits of drinking matcha.
1. Boosts Metabolism
There’s a reason why green tea is almost like the poster child for weight loss. Green tea helps speed up your metabolism.1 And when you’re on a diet, this can help you lose weight a little faster than if you didn’t drink the stuff. Bear in mind that you need to drink it plain with no milk or sugar.
2. Slows Down Aging
Japan, the country where matcha originates from, has an average life expectancy of 83 years. So, it’s no surprise to find out that matcha helps slow down the aging process, keeping you healthier for longer.2
3. Prevents Wrinkles
Turns out green tea has some cosmetic purposes as well. If you’re worried about those frown lines and crow’s feet near your eyes, sip on some green tea every day. Those antioxidants work enough magic to keep your skin from suffering the effects of aging as well.3
4. Slows Down Cancer Growth
Is there anything green tea can’t do? The powerful antioxidants in green tea have been shown to slow down and prevent the survival of cancer cells within the body.4
5. Improves Brain Function
Matcha even works its magic in our brains as well. The caffeine in matcha helps keep us alert and vigilant which improves our cognitive performance. It also protects the brain from developing disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.5
6. Reduces Risk Of Heart Disease
Want to keep your heart in great shape? Have a regular cup of green tea. High levels of cholesterol, especially LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’, can be dangerous for heart health. It can lead to clogged arteries and increased risk of stroke and cardiac arrests. Green tea has been seen to reduce levels of LDL which decreases the risk of heart disease.6
7. Reduces Risk Of Diabetes
Diabetes is almost like an epidemic in our world today. Our love for sugar has dire consequences but thankfully, green tea can help reverse some of the damage we’ve already done. Studies show that green tea reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30%!7
How To Choose Your Matcha
If you’re looking to upgrade your tea collection, matcha is a great option. However, like all plants, green tea is prone to leaching pollutants from the soil and the atmosphere it’s grown in. Some studies show that matcha from China may have higher levels of lead in them.8 So, try to choose organic brands that come from Japan, which do not seem to have as high a concentration.
How To Drink Your Matcha
The ratio of powder to water is important when making matcha, but as with anything, you can play around and adjust it to something that’s your personal preference. To start out, use about 2g (1/2 tsp) of the powder for every half to one cup of water. The water should ideally be just below boiling. Add some of the water to the powder slowly and make a paste. You can use a whisk to make it nice and frothy. Add in the rest of the water and enjoy. Just make sure not to add any milk because it can alter the effectiveness of the antioxidants. Matcha is also great to cook with. It’s amazing in smoothies, and pairs well with white chocolate when baking.
Now that you know the basics to matcha, get out there and try some for yourself.
|↑1||Lu, Hong, Xiaofeng Meng, and Chung S. Yang. “Enzymology of methylation of tea catechins and inhibition of catechol-O-methyltransferase by (−)-epigallocatechin gallate.” Drug metabolism and disposition 31, no. 5 (2003): 572-579.|
|↑2||Benetos, Athanase, Koji Okuda, Malika Lajemi, Masayuki Kimura, Frederique Thomas, Joan Skurnick, Carlos Labat, Kathryn Bean, and Abraham Aviv. “Telomere length as an indicator of biological aging.” Hypertension 37, no. 2 (2001): 381-385.|
|↑3||Hong, Yang‐Hee, Eun Young Jung, Kwang‐Soon Shin, Kwang‐Won Yu, Un Jae Chang, and Hyung Joo Suh. “Tannase‐converted green tea catechins and their anti‐wrinkle activity in humans.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology 12, no. 2 (2013): 137-143.|
|↑4||Ann Beltz, Lisa, Diana Kay Bayer, Amber Lynn Moss, and Ira Mitchell Simet. “Mechanisms of cancer prevention by green and black tea polyphenols.” Anti-Cancer Agents in Medicinal Chemistry (Formerly Current Medicinal Chemistry-Anti-Cancer Agents) 6, no. 5 (2006): 389-406.|
|↑5||Weinreb, Orly, Silvia Mandel, Tamar Amit, and Moussa BH Youdim. “Neurological mechanisms of green tea polyphenols in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases.” The Journal of nutritional biochemistry 15, no. 9 (2004): 506-516.|
|↑6||Yang, T. T. C., and M. W. L. Koo. “Inhibitory effect of Chinese green tea on endothelial cell-induced LDL oxidation.” Atherosclerosis 148, no. 1 (2000): 67-73.|
|↑7||Kim, Hyun Min, and Jaetaek Kim. “The effects of green tea on obesity and type 2 diabetes.” Diabetes & metabolism journal 37, no. 3 (2013): 173-175.|
|↑8||Han, Wen-Yan, Fang-Jie Zhao, Yuan-Zhi Shi, Li-Feng Ma, and Jian-Yun Ruan. “Scale and causes of lead contamination in Chinese tea.” Environmental Pollution 139, no. 1 (2006): 125-132.|