8 Benefits of Matcha Tea
What is matcha green tea powder and is it good for you?
Matcha Tea is a form of green tea that is derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. This is the plant that is used most commonly in most green teas, however the process of creating the matcha tea blend is where it differs. Three to four weeks before harvest, the Camellia sinensis or "tea plant," as it is often referred to is intentionally shaded from direct sunlight. It is during this time that the plant will develop more theanine, an amino acid within the plant and caffeine. The leaves of the tea plant will turn a darker shade of green and then be harvested, steamed, de-stemmed and deveined, dried and then finally ground into a powder. Where green tea is traditionally steeped and the leaves filtered out, matcha tea is consumed directly, with the powder of the entire leaf in the mix, whether this is water or in some cases, milk in some form or another. This whole process is one of the more labor-intensive occupations that not only requires hard work, but also delicacy and finesse. Due to this, a good cup of matcha tea may cost a significant amount more than its standard green tea counterparts and is considered much more valuable. Most of the world's matcha tea is grown in the province of Uji, Japan, just outside of Kyoto, Japan's cultural center filled with remnants, relics and rituals from the ancient world. Where history meets the modern day. It is here where tea has been a part of tradition and the lives of many for hundreds of years. Join us as we talk about some of the benefits of matcha tea, consumed for centuries by the people of Southeast Asia.
1. It is filled with Antioxidants
With high levels of catechins in matcha tea, a plant-based compounds that act as natural antioxidants. These antioxidants help in the neutralization of harmful free radicals in the body that if left unchecked can have less than favorable outcomes, known to cause chronic illnesses, disease and cellular damage. In matcha tea, the whole leaf is ingested giving you the power of the plant! This gives matcha tea an edge over your average green tea by having approximately 137 times greater catechins, according to a study done by the National Library of Medicine.
2. May help you Focus
We all could use to put on our focus goggles in the mid afternoon when the day is halfway through. Well, matcha tea can give you just that! The unique combination of caffeine and theanine, promotes a state of relaxed alertness. This is exactly what you want when you are trying to get the task done, whether it involves your job, home projects and chores, your studies or even self-care. Matcha tea has been used for centuries by Buddhist and Japanese Zen monks to assist in their meditating to get them in a state of flow and reception.
3. Enhances Brain Function
Matcha Tea was found to boost basic cognitive functions. Tests involving memory, reaction time and attention showed improvements to a control group who had matcha tea in both tea or bar form versus participants who were merely given a placebo tea and bar. You telling me matcha can give you better brain power? Yes, please.
4. May help promote Heart Health
Green tea with a similar profile to matcha was shown in studies that it may help protect against heart disease. It has also been shown to lower levels of bad cholesterol within your system.
5. May aid in Weight Loss
The journey with weight loss can be a tough gig. One day you're doing fine, eating your salads and drinking plenty of water, the next you're eating like a campground raccoon and throwing back six cans of soda. Matcha tea has been shown to assist in weight loss in conjunction with a healthy lifestyle. In most weight loss supplements on the market, the number one ingredient you will see is green tea extract. The extract and matcha in general helps speed up the metabolism and promote higher energy expenditure. Couple this with a good workout routine, you'll be burning fat in no time! Get that extra help in your quest and assist you in maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle.
6. Boost your Immune System
The blend of amino acids and nutrients from drinking matcha tea is fortified with a ton of vitamins and minerals to give your immune system a natural green shot in the arm. High concentrations of EGCG, a potent catechin found in matcha is shown to help with inflammation and overall immune health.
Matcha tea has been known to clear not so "radical" heavy metal elements from solution. Drinking a cup of this will ensure the only heavy metal you are left with is coming through your stereo.
8. Improve your mood
It's no surprise that we reach for a cup of coffee or sugar when our mood is lower. This is because it gives us a little boost, but it doesn't last. Try reaching for a cup of matcha tea. With all the vitamins, minerals, caffeine and theanine you get a natural dose of green goodness that will help you feel better during your day without the subsequent crash of coffee and sugar. Matcha tea offers an approximate energy and focus increase over the course of six to eight hours vs. one to two for the other guys.
Is matcha better for you than coffee?
While better is a subjective term, matcha tea certainly has its own advantages over coffee.
While coffee and matcha share similarities with caffeine, both hit different in the short and long term effects of the caffeine jolt. There is more caffeine in coffee, but you are more apt to experience a stronger crash within a couple hours and even some jitters after consuming it. Matcha on the other hand, has almost as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, approximately 70mg/ 8oz vs. coffee's 95mg/ 8oz, but when combined with the theanine that is in matcha, the effects of the caffeine are more subtle, will actually last for around 6 to 8 hours and leave you without the crash. Match tea gives you more of a calm focus over the erratic spasms of productivity you may find in coffee.
Both matcha and coffee are packed with antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. Coffee holds its own with Magnesium and vitamin B2, both respected miniature helpers to your body, improving upon cell growth, breakdown of fats and energy production. However, matcha contains polyphenols, cancer fighting and preventing antioxidants which coffee also possesses, just a whole lot more. So overall, both do pretty well for you.
Matcha has more of the catechins we discussed earlier, the natural plant- based antioxidants than coffee, it also a little better for your dental health, doesn't stain and even fights certain bacteria that causes plaque.
There is concern over the dependency issue when it comes to coffee and the effects it may have in regard to the jitters, but it's still coffee and if consumed mindfully along with anything else including matcha tea it will still do you well. Having too much caffeine in a short amount of time and throughout your day will have adverse effects on your mental and physical health regardless of where you get it, so just be aware of that.
Overall, it does appear that matcha has its own advantages over coffee, giving you similar amounts of caffeine without the crash (as long as you don't drink more than a couple cups in a sitting), it provides a plethora of catechins, polyphenols and amino acids all with their own distinct advantages towards different aspects of your health including, positive effects on mood, mental function and retention, heart health, skin well-being and even dental hygiene.
As with most things involving health, always be sure to consult your doctor with any questions or concerns you may have about matcha or coffee.