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.
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.
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.
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.
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.