7 Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
Ever feel over whelmed by all the superfoods to the point where you stop taking notice of the latest craze, only to try it later and discover that you had been missing out the whole time?
I have a list of things that I resisted to my own detriment (Spirulina and Macha top the list) but Matcha Tea, is one such superfood that I will no longer be complacent about. I had a friend who was from Japan and she introduced me to this amazing powdered green tea known as Matcha.
Matcha Tea continues to gained popularity, and although the modern consumption of Matcha ignores its rich culture and traditional preparation matcha tea is more popular than ever.
What is Matcha?
Matcha literally means “powdered tea.” When you order traditional green tea, the components from the leaves get infused into the hot water, then the leaves are discarded.
With matcha, you’re drinking the actual leaves, which have been stone-ground into a delicate powder. This finely milled green tea powder is then sifted and whisked with hot water.
Making a antioxidant rich frothy green tea and unlike other types of teas, the green tea powder is not strained out before consuming, so you are consuming the entire leaf, making Matcha more potent than other tea varieties. In fact, only 1/2 tsp is needed to brew a traditional cup of Matcha.
See also Article What Is Matcha and Why Is Everyone Talking About It?
History of Matcha
Matcha comes from the tea plant “Camellia Sinensis”, a shrub native to Southern China, and the practice of milling tea leaves into a fine powder and then whisking in water originated in China In the Tang Dynasty around the 10th century. The fine green tea powder was dried into bricks for easy storage.
It is believed that the very first Matcha green tea seeds were brought to Japan from China by the Zen Monk Eisai in 1191 A.D, who planted the seeds on the temple grounds in Kyoto.
Eisai (1141-1215), the founder of the Rinzai sect of Zen Buddhism, likewise introduced the practice of grinding and consuming green tea leaves in powdered form. Thus Zen and matcha became inextricably bound together, in the form of the exquisite tea ceremony (chanoyu ceremony).
…“However, tea was use mostly in rituals performed by the aristocracy; Ordinary Japanese only began to drink tea much later.”…
Energy + Calm
Matcha tea is unique because the process of shading and harvesting increases the content of L-Theanine, an amino acid that occurs naturally in the tea plant. While matcha may contain the same caffeine as other types of tea, the L-Theanine is known to create calmness without drowsiness.
But because you’re consuming whole leaves in matcha, you may get three times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea, about the equivalent to a cup of brewed coffee, which makes Matcha a strange mix that is stimulating and calming.
Another benefit to Matcha is the high concentration of antioxidants. One study found that Matcha has 137 times the polyphenols (notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) than regular green tea. In fact, Matcha tea contains over 60x the antioxidants of spinach and 7x the antioxidants of high quality dark chocolate.
These antioxidants are believed to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. EGCG has been shown in research to boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.(1)(2)
EGCG, found in high concentrations in Matcha, has been shown to boost metabolism and increase the rate of burning stored fat as energy, as well as decreasing the formation of new fat cells. Other studies have shown that the catechins
in Matcha in combination with moderately intense exercise has the additive effect of increasing fatty acid oxidation, but not total energy expenditure during exercise. (1)
The International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition 2016 study in controlled trials on human serum lipid levels, concluded that the consumption of green tea EGCG resulted in a significant reduction of LDL-C at any baseline level. The study showed that the catechins in green tea had a significant effect on lowering LDL cholesterol.
A 2015 study shows that the Correlation between tea consumption and prevalence of hypertension among Singaporean Chinese residents aged 40+ years was associated with lower hypertension risk.
A 2013 Cochrane review also showed that regular green tea consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and an decreased risk of stroke.
The L-Theanine in green tea is similar to the neurotransmitters l-glutamate and l-glutamine, so it allows L-Theanine to easily cross the blood-brain barrier. And when taken as a supplement or by drinking Matcha tea, the L-Theanine reaches your brain within 30-45 minutes.
L-Theanine when taken helps to balance the brains chemistry and improves cognitive health. Which means that L-Theanine can lower your stress levels, rejuvenate and relax you, boost your ability to think, improve focus and change your mood.
- Brain Waves. L-Theanine boosts alpha brain waves (8-12Hz) promoting alert relaxation. And theta brain waves associated with creativity and relief from trauma.
- Neurotransmitters. L-Theanine increases GABA, serotonin and dopamine levels in your brain. Producing an energizing and calming effect. And improving cognition and memory.
- Neuroprotection. L-Theanine is an antagonist of NMDA receptors and can inhibit synaptic release of glutamate. Protecting your brain from over-stimulation caused by glutamate, and possible glutamate toxicity.
- L-Theanine (r-glutamylethylamide) is a non-dietary amino acid found in tea. And especially high levels in green tea (camellia sinensis). L-Theanine was first isolated from green tea in Japan by Sakato in 1949.
The process of shading the Matcha leaves creates an increased amount of chlorophyll, which some preliminary research has shown may help the body eliminate heavy metals and other harmful buildup.
This is thanks to its natural detox ability as chlorophyll, has been shown to have a cleansing effect on the blood. Which is not surprising considering chlorophyll is one of the most important natural chelates.
Chlorophyll is also helpful with cuts and scrapes and is great with burns, nicks, and inflammation. Chlorophyll also helps prevent scarring and infections by killing germs. Which is no surprise considering this stuff’s got natural anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and wound-healing properties.
The same antioxidants that make green tea protective, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may also help support skin health by reducing inflammation and free radicals that accelerate skin aging.
And chlorophyll because of its amazing germ killing action is also great for helping fight pimple breakouts and reduce blemishes, and protect against sun damage and oxidization, which are the main causes of wrinkles. The Chlorophyll in Matcha is chock-a-block with skin-protecting antioxidants, and natural sunscreen.
Matcha Tea Can Be Super-Healthy and has some amazing benefits — but an important caution and potential downside: are its high lead and Fluoride content. So it pays to be matcha savvy.
All green teas, even organically grown ones, contain trace amounts of lead and fluoride. When brewed as traditional green tea, the leaves are removed, and most of the lead (and some of the fluoride) is removed with the leaves.
With Matcha, since the whole leaf is consumed, there is a higher concentration of lead. So the origin of any matcha powder you consume is extremely important for your safety. Here’s what you need to know…
- All plants can absorb lead from the environment, but tea absorbs it more readily than other plants. Tea plants grown in soil that is contaminated with lead or near roadways or industrial areas will absorb it into the leaves, and, because you are consuming the entire leaf, more lead may wind up in your cup. In one study from the research organization ConsumerLab, tea grown in China had high lead concentrations.
- The highest-quality matcha comes from the southern regions of Japan—Kyushu, Nishio, Shizuoka and Uji.
- Good-quality matcha is bright, vivid green and will have a find powdery consistency—anything yellowish or coarse is not likely to taste very good.
- Now that matcha has become popular, some prepared versions may have plenty of added sugar. Skip them, and make the real thing yourself.
There is no reason to avoid this matcha tea, since the levels are very low, but I would exercise more caution when pregnant for this reason, and those with thyroid conditions or other disorders should ask a doctor and exercise caution.
Ready to try it? Here’s a quick video tutorial from Kenko Tea, an Australian brand that gets its matcha from the Nishio region of Japan and ships worldwide. Other reputable brands include DoMatcha, and MidoriSpring.
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