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Last Updated on April 27, 2018

How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

How To Improve Your Health With Matcha Green Tea

If you are a green tea fan but have not tried matcha green tea, you really don’t know what you’re missing out on! Matcha is a very concentrated form of green tea which adds the leaves, in powdered form, directly to your drink so that you get the full benefit of its many nutrients and active compounds. Below is your guided tour of one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a form of green tea that originated in China in the 9th century, but became extremely popular among the monks of Japan in the 1300’s and has played an integral role in the Japanese tea ceremony for more than 900 years, valued as a part of meditation practice.

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There are major differences in the way this tea is produced, harvested and even brewed. The plants used to make matcha are called tencha plants, and they are grown in the shade, harvested by hand, then steamed, stored and at last ground into a lovely emerald green powder that is used to make the matcha tea drink. This varies from the traditional methods of green tea making, where leaves are infused in water and then discarded before drinking. In other words, when you drink matcha, you are actually drinking down the pulverized leaf!

What are the Health Benefits of Matcha?

One of the reasons why matcha is becoming so popular is that it offers a wide variety of health benefits for people who drink it regularly. For one thing, it provides a wide variety of nutrients, including an impressive selection of vitamins (A, B, C, E and K), important trace minerals, active phytochemicals like catechins and chlorophyll and amino acids like L-theanine.

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Many of these active compounds have powerful antioxidant properties. Because of its unique blend of these antioxidants, green tea has been linked to positive outcomes for a number of serious chronic illnesses, including heart disease and diabetes. In several clinical studies, it has also proven to have anti-cancer properties, particularly against cancer of the breast, but also against colon and bladder cancer.

The combination of caffeine and catechins (which are also antioxidant compounds) has made it popular among those who wish to use it to help boost weight loss. Both active ingredients are known to help boost the metabolism and in several studies, green tea has been linked to the faster breakdown of fat, especially the visceral fat that can build up around organs like the liver and cause serious health problems later on.

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How Do You Use Matcha?

Matcha is available in the United States in the form of a bright green powder or as already-prepared drinks. You can drink it in a hot, cold or frozen drink. You can also use the powder in a variety of both sweet and savory recipes, including dishes like matcha puddings, muffins and ice cream as well as matcha soups, sauces and stir-fries.The possibilities are virtually endless — and once you get comfortable with its flavors, you can learn to experiment and make dishes up that are all your own.

If you are brewing matcha on your own, the techniques is slightly different than if you are making regular green tea. Bring water to a boil in a kettle, but let the water cool for about ten minutes. Add the matcha powder to your teacup, pour the water in, stir and let it steep for a minute before enjoying.

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Are There Any Drawbacks to Matcha?

As great as matcha is, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before you indulge yourself:

Matcha does have a strong flavor (stronger than regular green tea) and usually needs to be sweetened. You can use honey as a more natural alternative to sugar, but this will still add calories to the drink, which can be a drawback if you are wanting to drink it to help with weight loss.

Even high-quality, organic green matcha tea can be contaminated with lead: this happens because the tea plant draws it up naturally from the soil. Most of the lead then moves into the leaves and since matcha tea uses the leaves directly in the drink instead of infusing them, it is believed that it can contain up to 30 times the amount of lead as regular green tea. For this reason, matcha should only be enjoyed once a day and not given to children.

So if you are already a fan of green tea and would like to take it to the next level, try some today. It can be purchased at health food stores as well as some regular supermarkets and is a great, tasty beverage to add to  your overall healthy lifestyle.

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Brian Wu

Health Writer, Author

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Last Updated on August 20, 2018

35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

35 Anniversary Ideas to Bring You Closer Together

Every mature relationship has had a less-than-memorable anniversary. Maybe one of you forgot, or both of you got busy with work, kids, family issues, or something else. Whatever happened, the day came and went without fanfare. And neither of you seemed to notice or much care.

But for the health of any relationship, it’s important to make important days feel special. Anniversaries offer the wonderful opportunity to relive beautiful memories, practice gratefulness for your partner, and to show your love and strengthen your bond. Make this year’s anniversary with your significant other something special  — one that will bring you closer together.

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The best way to create a memorable anniversary is to do something new and different together as a couple. Stretch yourselves a bit.

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While boredom can silently kill a relationship, new experiences reinforce the shared bond you already have and create strong new memories. Just think back to the most significant memories you have right now with your spouse and imagine what new ones you can create!

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While you enjoy your chosen anniversary activity, be sure to keep a positive attitude and make your partner happy too on that day. Leave all arguments and day to day detail behind. Just celebrate your relationship. Whether you’re going to spend the day together at home, getting away, or having a wild and crazy new experience together, you can have your best anniversary yet!

If You’re Staying In

  1. Spend an evening with no technology, just the two of you and maybe a board game. It’s hard to keep ourselves away from our computers and smartphones long enough to have a meaningful conversation. Make a rule not to use your tech and you’ll rekindle your relationship!
  2. Make wine or beer together. If you enjoy drinking together, this is a fun activity to try together. Just remember to buy the necessary equipment ahead of time.
  3. Learn something new about each other. With an open mind, try asking some of the New York Times’ 36 questions that lead to love. They’ll help spark intimacy and will lead to some really honest moments.
  4. Have a lazy day. Breakfasts in bed, spend all day in bed talking and napping. Follow breakfast with champagne and dessert! If you feel like getting more active, cook together or play some games. Here’re some simple breakfast ideas for you.
    • Learn to dance at home. This is best for those active couples who work out together and also enjoy learning something new together. Just go on Youtube to find any music with dance tutorials and learn together.
    • Visit model homes or open houses and plan your dream home.
    • Have a special dessert – champagne and chocolate covered strawberries. Having an unusual treat makes a day feel extra special. If you want to make the dessert really special, try these tasty dessert recipes.
    • Create a playlist of your favorite songs as a couple. Choose songs that tell your story, and songs that you bonded over throughout your relationships. Here’re some love songs ideas for your inspirations.
      • Write your love story. Write it together or ave each of you write your own and then bring them together in an interesting, both sides of the story format.
      • Get a fondue pot. Fondue is a fun way to enjoy melted cheeses (for savory items) and melted chocolate (for sweeter treats).
      • Decorate! Turn your home into a dressed-up french cottage, a sophisticated restaurant, or simply with flowers. The different ambience will immediately change the feel of your home and make it feel like a staycation.
        • Talk about the future together. It might sound simple and everyday, but imagining how you want to spend your retirement together, or planning future trips can be exciting and romantic.

        If You Want to Get Away

        1. Take a day trip together to your favorite spot. If you live in a city, it can be incredibly refreshing to get away for an afternoon and drink in the outdoors.
        2. Go on a scenic drive and stop at a wine and cheese bar. Or, if you’re lucky enough to have lots of options where you live, try a brewpub. There are tons of small craft breweries with fantastic food options too.
        3. Go camping. Relatively affordable and, if the weather’s right, beautiful and romantic.
          • Take an overnight backpacking trip. For the more adventurous couples, backpacking is an even more intense way to challenge yourself physically while becoming one with nature.
          • Take a wine tasting tour. If you live on the West Coast or in the Northeast, take a drive to the nearest winery. Many offer relatively inexpensive tastings and deals if you purchase a certain amount.
          • Take a scenic train trip. Taking the train means less stress traveling: nobody has to drive, you don’t have to stop for breaks every few hours, and you can sleep if you need to!
          • Save up for a destination vacation. What better time than your anniversary to enjoy the beach at a beautiful resort?
          • Explore a new city. Whether you’re on a budget or have a lot saved up, you can have a great time just exploring an unfamiliar town.
          • Rent a cabin for a weekend away, in the woods or next to a lake or ocean. If you like the outdoors but can only take so much nature, try glamping.
            • Go on a retreat. Yoga retreats, meditation retreats, beautiful natural surroundings … they’re all the rage. Search for centeredness and calm with your partner.
            • Spend a day at a food festival. Many cities have fun and affordable food festivals, occasionally based on a theme. Check out your town’s (or a nearby city) calendar for inspiration!

            New & Exciting Experiences

            1. Go spelunking. Dark, damp, and utterly exciting!
            2. Go on a hot air balloon ride. Because the basket is relatively small, this can be a romantic and deeply personal – and yet thrilling –
              experience.
              • Try sky diving. If you and you S.O. are real thrill-seekers, sky diving can really push you to the edge!
              • Explore the underwater world by snorkeling or scuba diving. This may take you far away from where you normally live and work, which is an added bonus.
              • Experience white water rafting.
              • Drive or hike to the highest spot nearby for a new view of the world. America has tons of beautiful mountains where challenging hikes (or drives) can deliver breathtaking views.
              • Take a craft or cooking class. Up your craft skills or food  making skills, and enjoy something new!
                • Take a wine and painting class today. These classes are easily found these days and even a beginning painter can create a nice painting. Challenging but relaxing, fun, and you get to go home with some artwork!
                • Learn to salsa dance. Dancing is a fantastic way to actively get closer and coordinate physically with one another.
                  • Visit a nearby festival you’ve always wanted to go to. Have fun and let go with fellow audience-members!
                  • Spend the day at an amusement park together. Laugh and carry on like teenagers.
                  • Meet new people! At a restaurant, concert, or class, make it a point to meet new friends. Striking up conversation with someone you don’t know – but with whom you have shared interests – can be an adventurous and rewarding experience.

                  Whether your budget is big or small, and whether you have a little or a ton of time together, focus on each other. There are tons of options, in terms of location, level of physical activity, and cost. You can make the day special in a way that’s right for you!

                  Featured photo credit: Photo by Taylor L. Spurgeon on Unsplash via unsplash.com

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