Why We Love Matcha
about 1 year ago
Coffee Vs. Matcha
While we love starting the day with coffee, we have to give a special shout-out to another amazing beverage: matcha. Matcha is a spectacularly green tea drink that can be made with water, milk, or your favorite plant-based alternative. This superfood is jam-packed with nutrients and provides countless benefits.
What is matcha?
Matcha is green tea! Young green tea leaves are ground into a super fine powder. Then, the powder is whisked together with hot water to make a bright green frothy tea. Whisked tea was created in Ancient China, but matcha was made popular in Japan, where it was used in intricate tea ceremonies and enjoyed by samurai.
How is matcha different from green tea?
Both traditional green tea and matcha are made from tea tree leaves, however, while matcha is ground into powder while the leaves are still young, green tea is made from drying leaves and steeping them. Matcha tea leaves are also grown differently. Matcha tea leaves are taken from tea leaves grown in the shade—protected from the sun with filtered light. This process boosts plants’ chlorophyll production which contributes to the plants’ bright green leaves and changes their levels of antioxidants and theanine, which is known to boost mental function.
What about the caffeine content?
Like regular green tea, matcha does contain caffeine. In fact, it has more caffeine than other green teas because it is made from the whole leaf instead of steeping the leaves. That being said, it doesn't give you the same buzzy feeling that you would get from drinking a cup of coffee. A matcha latte has about 55 mg of caffeine, while a regular latte made with espresso has about 75 mg, and a cup of brewed coffee is way up there at 136 mg. Most people say they feel energized but still calm when they drink matcha, making it a great option for people who are prone to a racing heartbeat or anxiety when they consume caffeine.
L-Theanine: Matcha’s superpower
Another game-changer is its L-theanine content. This amazing little amino acid actually curbs some of the negative effects of caffeine when taken together. Studies found that people who took caffeine with L-theanine had better memory, less headaches, and more alertness than those who consumed one or the other alone.
Matcha’s many health benefits
While there are plenty of benefits to drinking traditional green tea, you lose some of the nutrients because you discard the tea leaves when they are done soaking. Since matcha is made of ground tea leaves you actually consume the entire leaf meaning you get all the benefits the tea leaf has to offer which is only made better by its unique growing process.
High in antioxidants:Matcha, like other teas, is rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body by binding to them so that they don’t damage our cells and cause disease and dysfunction. The antioxidants found in tea leaves specifically are known as catechins, and matcha has been found to have a higher level of catechins than other teas.
High chlorophyll content:Remember how we said that the shade growing process used to grow matcha tea leaves ups the chlorophyll content? Well, this is good news for our bodies. While the research is still in its early stages, scientists have found evidence for chlorophyll's high levels of antioxidants and even anti-cancer properties.
Cleansing the liver:The liver is a truly amazing organ, performing over 500 bodily functions. The liver is responsible for keeping our bodies free from toxins by flushing out harmful compounds, breaking down drugs, and even processing some nutrients. That being said, the liver is exposed to some of the less healthy ingredients that we may choose to ingest (think alcohol, drugs, and excess glucose), making it susceptible to damage itself. Incredibly enough, green tea has been found to help reduce elevated liver enzyme levels that are said to be markers of liver damage.
Better brain function:Studies have found that consuming matcha is great for the brain. One study found that it improves brain activity in elderly people. Another found that it improved memory, reaction time, and attention span.
Possible cancer prevention:Studies in test tubes and rats have linked matcha to cancer prevention. Green tea extract was found to reduce the size of breast tumors in one study done on rats. Matcha is high in a catechin (an antioxidant) called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has also been found to have anti-cancer properties. Studies have found it to shrink prostate cancer cells and fight other cancer such as skin, lung, and liver.
Heart health:Matcha can offer the same benefits associated with green tea, including helping the heart in a few ways. First, green tea catechins improve blood fat levels. They also improve cardiovascular tone, help stop thrombogenesis (the formation of blood clots), and prevent cardiovascular disease.
Try matcha for yourself
Matcha can be bought already prepared or enjoyed in your favorite coffee shops. However, many stores and popular chains make matcha with more sugar than matcha. Here’s how you can make it on your own:
Sift matcha powder into a small cup or bowl.
Pour in just a little hot water and start whisking from side to side. It’s important to follow this motion as whisking in a circle will not create foam.
Add your desired liquid. While you can top it off with hot water as is tradition, many people enjoy steamed milk or plant milk to create a matcha latte. You can also try something cold and pour it over ice.
Sweeten if desired.
While you don’t necessarily have to use the traditional whisk, known as a chasen, if you find yourself making matcha often it will definitely be worth the investment. This tiny bamboo whisk is designed to prevent clumps and make a nice froth. However, you can also use a whisk or electric frother for a similar smooth foam. Matcha’s shelf life is shorter than regular green tea: you should aim to finish it within two months of opening it for the best color, flavor, and nutritional benefits. If you want to continue to boost the benefits, make it bulletproof with MCT oil powder and collagen powder, which is packed in amino acids.