You have likely heard a lot about matcha from your health-conscious friends, and anyone who paid attention to fashion week knows that matcha shots were the “it beverage” of the event. This leads many to wonder— what exactly is so special about matcha?
As hard as it can be to believe, many dedicated coffee drinkers are ditching the bean in favor of drinking green tea matcha. If all of this buzz has you curious about matcha, you have come to the right place. Here are a few things you should know about this exhilarating drink, and why you maybe should start drinking this special green tea.
What is Matcha?
Matcha tea is a high-grade green tea made from dried leaves, and it is said to have substantial cancer-fighting and overall health properties. Matcha can grow in different parts of the world, however, the highest quality matcha comes from Japan. Within Japan, the best matcha is found in the southern part of the country. Matcha differs from other green teas because the bush where the tea leaves grow is covered for several days before harvest, which protects the leaves from the sun. As a result, the leaves produce more chlorophyll, which creates the vibrant green color associated with matcha tea or matcha powder.
When the leaves are harvested, they are left to air dry. They then are milled into a very fine powder. The powder can be mixed with hot water or steaming milk to make a delicious and health-conscious green tea. It’s best to use a whisk during the mixing process.
Producing matcha is labor intensive, so this green tea may be more expensive than other teas, but the nutrition value and energy it brings is nearly unparalleled when compared to other homeopathic teas on the market.[/vc_column_text]
Our Picks For The Best Matcha
How Is Matcha Consumption Different from Other Green Tea?
Matcha translates to “powdered tea.” When you order green teas or other teas, the dried leaves of the tea are infused into hot water, you let the tea steep, and then the bag of tea leaves is discarded.
However, when you drink matcha, you are mixing in and drinking the actual leaves. The green powder is actually all of the leaves that have been dried and grounded up. Traditionally, about one teaspoon of matcha powder is mixed with one cup of hot water to make matcha tea. You do not want to bring the water to a boil— you just want it to be hot. You can use a bamboo whisk until the mixture froths, keeping the same delicious taste while offering a different texture.
What Are the Health Benefits of Matcha?
Matcha can be found at many health-conscious coffee shops and grocery stores, and it is a common commodity within the wellness community. Matcha is made from the highest quality tea. Since you are ingesting whole tea leaves, you get a higher level of nutrients and energy than you would with simply steeped green tea.
Matcha provides small amounts of vitamins and minerals. It is full of antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants are said to lower your risk of cancer and heart disease risk, improve blood sugar regulation, lower blood pressure, and fight against aging. Matcha has also been shown to boost a person’s metabolism and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells, making it a great addition to any health-conscious or homeopathic diet.
Matcha’s other benefits include improved bone strength and increased brain function since it provides a lot of energy. This includes improved memory and cognitive skills. People who drink matcha have been shown to have positive changes in their cholesterol numbers as well.
Athletes are also using matcha to reduce exercise-induced muscle pain. It allows them to minimize the time they need to recover after an intense run or workout. The EGCG properties in matcha may protect you against colds and the flu, providing you with a good way to strengthen your immune system naturally. This is important to athletes who may suffer from suppressed immunity during rigorous training.
Research discussed in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Medicine suggests that the mix of catechin, antioxidants, and caffeine found in matcha improves the body’s fat burning ability and can lead to healthy weight loss. More research needs to be done before the medical community can qualify matcha as an effective fat burner, but it has similar caffeine properties to coffee, and we know that coffee is a great weight loss stimulant.
Matcha has been shown to have a calming effect on the body. L-theanine is an amino acid that many feel produces a sense of ease and calm. Although matcha is a caffeinated drink that has higher caffeine level than most other teas, you can drink it without suffering jitters thanks to L-theanine amino acid present in this green tea.
If you are a tea drinker, you have probably already experienced this sensation. Most teas can give you a gentle buzz. We don’t recommend that you make this a late night drink because the caffeine may interfere with your sleeping patterns. However, you can definitely enjoy drinking it throughout the day.
Ancient Traditions Linked to Drinking Matcha
Matcha drinking and its preparation are at the heart of tea ceremonies. It has been linked to meditation across many cultures. This is one reason for its increased popularity as meditation is becoming more common in Western societies.
Preparing matcha allows people to slow down. It allows them to be in the moment. It allows them to experience some advantages that go well beyond the physical benefits one experiences when drinking matcha. There is ample evidence showing the benefit of proper meditation, and since matcha is associated with it, we can assume a positive overall health correlation.
When one is able to focus, meditation can reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure, boost self-esteem, control binge eating, and even increase a person’s compassion and empathy. Slowing down and taking the time to meditate reduces cortisol levels and stress, leading to a much better overall health.
Here Are Some Recommended Matcha Powders:
Jade Leaf Matcha Green Tea Powder
Superior Culinary Matcha Green Tea Powder
MatchaDNA Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder
Ujido Matcha Green Tea Powder (Featured in Kourtney Kardashian's Matcha Latte Recipe)
MatchaBar Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder
How Do You Consume Matcha?
Matcha has a very unique taste. Some have compared it to spinach or grass with a little bit of a sweetness. It has a umami-taste to it. Many use additional sweeteners to improve its taste, although many like it natural, too.
There are vast differences in matcha quality due to the leaves themselves as well as the method of production. These will affect the taste and health benefits of the tea, so its best to buy from a trusted source. Some stores offer a matcha powder mix. It is like hot chocolate, but instead of cocoa, it's ground matcha. However, when you look at the ingredients in products like these, you will see that the primary ingredient is sugar. We do not recommend these products as it will not help with weight loss, heart disease, or your overall health and wellness.
Growing and harvesting matcha is a time consuming task. A quality product may be a bit more expensive. Purchasing a low-priced product shouldn't be the focus. If you find very cheap matcha, it almost definitely corresponds with its poor quality. Look for matcha that has been USDA certified organic, and make sure it has been tested by third parties for contaminants. You definitely want a product that comes from Japan as this will be the highest quality fine powder.
Higher quality matcha will already have a natural sweet taste. Low quality matcha will be bitter. This is another reason to only purchase your matcha from companies that are known for their high quality control.
Take these steps to prepare the tea:
• Take a teaspoon of the powder and put it in a ball or a mug.
• Add two or three ounces of filtered water or milk that is hot, but not yet brought to a boil.
• Use a bamboo whisk and whisk the mixture until it’s frothy.
• Add additional steamed water or milk to taste.
If you want your matcha to have a bitter flavor, then substitute hot water for boiling water. If you want the matcha to be creamier, you can substitute milk for water. However, there is research that suggests that using milk in tea makes the antioxidants less useful.
Purchasing matcha lattes in coffee stores is easier than making the drink yourself. However, know that many of these lattes have hidden sugar ingredients, which can cancel out some health benefits of this tea.
Lead Contamination in Matcha Teas
Research shows that even green teas that are grown organically can have some traces of lead. The lead is absorbed by the bush as it grows from its environment. This is a particular problem for teas grown in China.
Lead contamination is a big concern for matcha tea drinkers as its very hard on your body, and at high levels, can even be toxic. With the traditional teas, since the leaves are steeped, the vast majority of the lead stays in the leaf. With matcha, you are drinking all of the leaf, so your lead consumption may be higher.
One group tested different teas and found that one cup of matcha tea has 30 times more lead than green tea. That is why it’s recommended that you only drink one cup a day and keep from serving it to children.
Including Matcha with Other Foods
While sipping matcha is the trend of the day, there are a number of other ways that you can use this powder. Some people add it to muffin mix, cookie batter, or pancake mix. Others blend it in smoothies they drink after exercising, use it as a rub for their meats, and even sprinkle some on top of popcorn.
A simple Google search will show you a host of recipes. It’s fun to experiment with matcha because it adds a unique flavor to anything you cook, and it has health benefits. That being said, we recommend avoiding going crazy with matcha. Even though it is a super food, too much of a good thing can be dangerous.
If you will cook with matcha, use a lower grade product. We recommend saving the ceremonial grade leaves for drinking. These are the youngest and most delicate tea leaves, and also, the most costly.
Matcha Can Improve Your Work and School Performance
Matcha has been shown to help people perform better at work and school, which may help your overall work or school performance. This tea has a special mix of brain boosters that work together to increase your brain’s ability to multitask. It appears to increase the speed of perception and reduce the fatigue you feel when you do repetitive tasks. This means you will be able to focus on daunting Excel sheets and work tasks without getting tired.
Matcha has been shown to improve memory, so perhaps you'll no longer forget where you left your wallet or keys. It improves your overall concentration, allowing you to have a heightened focus during those long and boring staff meetings.
Matcha Is Not the Elixir of Youth, but It Is Close
Okinawa, Japan is home to some of the oldest people on the planet. Many of them say their longevity is because of their consumption of matcha tea. This is not surprising since matcha tea has 60 times the oxidants found in spinach and other super foods. This helps your body fight the aging process from the inside out and allows for it to rebuild off of healthy cells. When your body is healthy on the inside, you are better equipped to fight the aging and its ailments. Your skin will have fewer wrinkles, your hair will have a brighter luster, and your nails and teeth will be stronger.
Why Matcha May Be a Better Option Than Coffee
As we mentioned at the outset, large numbers of people are turning away from their daily coffee routine and are now trading cappuccinos for matcha teas and lattes. Most people don’t drink coffee for the taste. They do it because they need that boost of caffeine to get through their day of work or whatever other tasks they have in front of them.
Matcha won’t give you the same caffeine boost as coffee, but this caffeinated green tea will give you a higher boost than you get from normal tea, all along with the additional health benefits. You will enjoy increased serotonin and dopamine production along with your caffeine boost. This means that you can go throughout the day with the vitality, readiness, and alertness you are accustomed to having when you drink coffee. But you won’t have that undesirable late-afternoon crash.
What If You Don’t Have Time to Prepare Matcha?
Several health food stores will sell bottled matcha that is ready to use. There’s no mixing required. Before grabbing a bottle of premixed matcha off the counter, we recommend that you take the time to thoroughly read its ingredients. Pay close attention to the matcha concentration levels. You may end up purchasing something that is more flavor and sugar than matcha.
Because of its health benefits and popularity, there are endless options available for buying matcha. The way you go about getting your daily dose is up to you. We recommend organic powders that come from Japan as they
Don’t be discouraged if at first you dislike the way matcha tastes. If you are a coffee drinker, think back to the very first time you sipped a hot cup of coffee. You probably thought it tasted disgusting, and you asked yourself how in the world is it possible that people stand in lines for hours every single day to drink this beverage.
Now, a few years later, you can’t start your day without coffee. You love the taste, you love the smell, and love the way it feels. More than anything, you appreciate the routine you have around making and drinking coffee.
The same thing will happen with green tea matcha in time. With the right preparation and the right brand purchase, you will find yourself captivated by this unique beverage's taste and overall health benefits. Soon, you might even become a matcha convert. If you're looking for a great homeopathic way to increase your overall health, add this special green tea to your diet and reap its many amazing health benefits.
Check out Healthy Body Healthy Mind for more health tips just like this green tea article.