If you’ve been searching for a quick, easy and affordable way to boost your energy, lose some weight and just feel generally healthier, you’re not alone. Guess what: this might just be it!
While green tea has long been a recommended part of a healthy diet, another brighter shade is becoming increasingly popular: matcha.
The increasingly popular matcha tea could be the answer everyone’s been looking for, and one cup a day is all it takes to reap countless health benefits.
Here’s what you should know about the beverage.
Get to Know Matcha Tea
Matcha is a form of Japanese green tea that is used in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. It is powdered, and the tea it makes has a smooth, mellow flavor that should not be bitter.
Whisked into hot water with a tea whisk, the tea it produces should be foamy in texture. Its color is bright green.
Matcha is made from a special kind of tea plant, the Camellia Sinensis. This produces a type of tea known as tencha. Tencha spends some of its growing time partially in the shade. This technique increases the amount of chlorophyll it contains, giving it a bright green color.
Matcha Tea is made by taking the young tea leaves and grinding them into a bright green powder. The powder is then whisked with hot water.
This is different from regular green tea, where the leaves are infused in water, then removed. Drinking brewed green tea “is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water,” says Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha and co-owner of the tea company teapigs. “You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.”
With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves.
The shade increases the chlorophyll content in the leaves, which is what makes them bright green and full of nutrients. The leaves are then picked by hand, and the stems and veins are removed.
According to Cheadle, the leaves are traditionally ground by granite stones into a super fine powder. “It takes an hour to grind the leaves, and it’s done in the dark to protect the nutrients,” she says.
“The finest matcha comes from Japan, where it has been grown for centuries and forms part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony,” she adds.
Grades of Matcha
- Ceremonial grade is the highest quality, used in tea ceremonies:
It’s made from the finest, youngest green tea leaves which give it a delicate, refreshing and naturally sweet flavor. It is ideal for enjoying simply as a tea or an iced tea.
When looking at a ceremonial matcha, it should have a vibrantly green color with a light, fresh, and slightly grassy smell. It should also be extremely fine to the touch and feel like eye shadow. If it smells off, or is grainy or dull, it’s not the real deal.
- Premium grade or Culinary Matcha is suitable for daily consumption:
It’s a mix of younger and older tea leaves and so while it’s still has a fresh flavor, it tends to be a bit more earthy and robust.
Culinary grade matcha can look less vibrant green than ceremonial matcha but should still be a beautiful green. Just like ceremonial grade, a quality cooking grade matcha should smell fresh and slightly grassy and still feel fine and smooth. If it feels coarse or you can see the individual grains of matcha easily, it is not good.
And because culinary matcha usually has a lower price point, it’s the perfect to add to your lattes, smoothies, breakfast bowls, baked goods etc.
- Matcha for cooking is the cheapest kind. It can be added to desserts.
So in a nutshell, when you are buying your matcha you want to pay attention to the origin (most good matches come from Japan), color, texture, taste and price.
And yes, my friends, this is a case where you pretty much get what you pay for. A good ceremonial matcha can range any where between $25-40 per gram.
Matcha is Loaded With Antioxidants
Matcha is absolutely packed with plant compounds called catechins, which are natural antioxidants, and because matcha powder contains all the nutrients of the entire leaf, matcha tea has a much higher degree of antioxidant benefits than steeped green tea.
A study published in the Journal of Chromatography estimates the number of certain antioxidant catechins in matcha is up to 137 times greater than in other types of green tea.
Matcha Protects Your Liver
Your liver is vital to health and plays a central role in flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs and processing nutrients.
Several studies have found that matcha may help protect the health of your liver, and help you reverse fatty liver.
One study gave diabetic rats matcha for 16 weeks and found that it helped prevent damage to both the kidneys and liver. This is also good news for those with prediabetes and diabetes, who are at increased risk of kidney and liver damage.
Another study gave 80 people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease either a placebo or 500 mg of green tea extract daily for 90 days. After 12 weeks, green tea extract significantly reduced liver enzyme levels (elevated levels of these enzymes are a marker of liver damage).
An exciting meta-analysis of 15 studies found that drinking green tea was associated with a decreased risk of liver disease.
Matcha Improves Brain Function
Research shows that several of the components in matcha could help enhance memory and brain function.
A 2017 study of 23 people looked at how people performed on a series of tasks designed to measure brain performance. Some participants consumed either matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha, while the control group consumed a placebo tea or bar.
The researchers found that matcha caused improvements in attention, reaction time and memory, compared to the placebo.
Another study showed that consuming 2 grams of green tea powder daily for two months helped improve brain function in elderly people.
Additionally, matcha contains a more concentrated amount of caffeine than green tea, packing in 35 mg of caffeine per half teaspoon (about 1 gram) of matcha powder.
L-theanine has also been shown to increase alpha wave activity in the brain, which may help induce relaxation and decrease stress levels.
Proven Cancer Prevention
Matcha is jam-packed with health-promoting compounds, including some that have been linked to cancer prevention in test-tube and animal studies.
In one study, green tea extract decreased tumor size and slowed the growth of breast cancer cells in rats.
Matcha is especially high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin that has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties.
A test-tube study found that the EGCG in matcha helped kill off prostate cancer cells.
It’s Good For Heart Health
Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, accounting for an estimated one-third of all deaths in people over the age of 35.
Studies have shown that drinking green tea, which has a similar nutrient profile to matcha, can help protect against heart disease.
It may also help prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, another factor that may protect against heart disease.
Fancy Matcha Example:
Matcha Helps You Lose Weight
Take a look at any weight loss supplement, and there’s a good chance you’ll see “green tea extract” listed in the ingredients, because green tea is well known for its ability to enhance weight loss.
In fact, studies show that it may help speed up metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boost fat burning.
Look at this Fancy Scientific Evidence –
One study showed that taking green tea extract during moderate exercise increased fat burning by 17%.
Another study, published in the British Journal of Nutrition, found that taking a supplement containing green tea extract significantly boosted 24-hour energy expenditure, compared to a placebo.
A review of 11 studies also showed that green tea reduced body weight and helped maintain weight loss.
Although most of these studies focused on green tea extract, matcha comes from the same plant and would have the same effect.
‘Across a Blue Sea Travel’ host, Katherine Bowers, journeyed to Japan with DoMatcha to find out everything about an ancient Japanese green tea called ‘Matcha.’
This spectacular journey takes you from amazing organic mountain tea fields, stunning forestscapes, and the natural spring fed wells of Kagoshima, to the bustling tea shop filled streets of ancient Uji City, and Katherine meets Japan’s famous Tea Master, Mr. Kazunori Handa.
How to Use Matcha
Taking advantage of the many health benefits of matcha is simple — and the tea tastes delicious.
You can make traditional matcha tea by sifting 1–2 teaspoons (2–4 grams) of matcha powder into your cup, adding 2 ounces (59 ml) of hot water and mixing it together with a bamboo whisk.
You can also adjust the ratio of matcha powder to water based on your preferred consistency.
- For thinner tea, reduce the powder to a half teaspoon (1 gram) and mix with 3–4 ounces (89–118 ml) of hot water
- For more concentrated tea, combine 2 teaspoons (4 grams) of powder with just 1 ounce (30 ml) of water
For iced tea, mix a teaspoon of matcha powder with one third of a cup of hot water and pour it over ice.
Matcha Recipes You’ll Want to Try
No Bake Matcha Granola Bars
- 2 cups oats
- 1 cup puffed rice cereal
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tbsp sunflower seeds
- ¼ cup raw almonds
- 5 tbsp honey
- 1/3 cup almond butter
- 1 ½ tbsp matcha green tea powder
Line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper and set aside.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Use a large spoon, or your hands, to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Be sure that the mixture is sticky. Add more honey if needed.
With a rubber spatula, Press mixture into pan and press firmly making sure that the mixture covers all corners of the pan and is smooth and even on top.
Place in refrigerator for approximately 1 hour, until set.
Cut into 10 bars and Enjoy!
Store in refrigerator.
Nutritional Information (1 bar): Calories 218, Carbohydrates 35g, Fat 7g, Protein 5g, Saturated Fat 1g, Fiber 4g, Sugars 19g
Chocolate Matcha High Protein Smoothie
*This is a fantastic way to incorporate whey protein, which is proven to make women leaner!
(Recipe makes 1 serving)
The nutrition panel will depend largely on what kind of chocolate whey protein you use; read my whey protein reviews and recommendations to help you make the right choice – I found some excellent low-calorie options!
Tahini-Matcha Salad Dressing
(This is a highly-rated recipe from Whole Foods)
Whisk in tahini, honey, matcha powder and 3 to 4 tablespoons water until smooth, then whisk in green onions. Use immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week.
- 1 Large Mango (fresh or frozen)
- 2 Frozen Bananas
- 2 Large Handfuls Baby Spinach
- 2 tsp Matcha Green Tea Powder
- 1 cup (240ml) Light Coconut Milk
Add the coconut milk to your blender jug, followed by the matcha green tea powder and spinach. Blend.
Add the mango and frozen bananas and blend until creamy and smooth.
Bananas must be peeled, broken into quarters and frozen at least 12 hours before. Any time you have extra ripe bananas, peel, break into quarters and freeze in a freezer bag so you have them on hand for smoothies.
- Serving Size: 1 Serve (of 2)
- Calories: 282
- Sugar: 37.6g
- Sodium: 56mg
- Fat: 6.1g
- Carbohydrates: 57.5g
- Fiber: 8.5g
- Protein: 5.6g
Matcha Latte Made Right
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or cow’s milk
1 teaspoon matcha powder
Bring 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, or cow’s milk to a bare simmer in a small pot over medium-high heat.
Place 1 teaspoon matcha powder in a heatproof cup. Slowly whisk in 1/4 cup boiling water, then almond milk, tipping cup slightly to help create more foam. Sweeten with agave syrup.
How to Store Matcha
These are the 3 key points to consider when storing your matcha:
- matcha green tea doesn’t like heat,
- it doesn’t like air, and
- it doesn’t like light
Once your matcha green tea has been opened, it’s best to consume within 12 weeks. This ensures optimum freshness, color, and taste. It will still be fine to consume after 12 weeks, but your matcha will have lost some of it’s natural goodness and freshness.
This is a great rule to live by when it comes to the wonderful matcha green tea
“drink it when it’s hypergreen and vibrant.”
Once you have consumed your first serving of this wonderful product, be sure to store matcha in a cool dark place or your fridge.
It’s really important to store it properly: it’s absolutely key to fostering the tea’s taste, color, umami content, froth-ability, and health properties.
Now you know how to store matcha green tea it’s time to consume it to reap all the amazing benefits.
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