Matcha is a special, powdered type of green tea. From the beginning, matcha is grown and processed in ways that promote its distinctive flavor and remarkable health benefits. Matcha grows beneath shade cloths, and when harvested, it's hand-picked, steamed, dried, pulverized to a fine powder, and stored at low temperatures. To prepare matcha, mix the powder with a small amount of hot (but not boiling) water and serve instantly. It’s tasty, unique, and brimming with nutrients.
What are the primary health benefits of matcha?
Unlike other green teas, the leaves of matcha are ground to a fine powder, so when you drink matcha, you are drinking the leaves themselves, not merely the water they steep in. Matcha is already unusually rich in nutrients, but this one fact raises its nutritional value significantly. When you drink matcha:
- You are getting amazing antioxidant power! Matcha’s ORAC value surpasses that of all other foods.
- You are getting powerful anti-cancer protection: matcha is loaded with unprecedented amounts of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
- Your brainwaves are altered in a way that simultaneously focuses and relaxes your mind; matcha contains L-Theanine.
- Your body’s detoxification mechanisms kick into high gear because matcha is uncommonly rich in chlorophyll (hence its extraordinary emerald color).
- It ratchets up your metabolism and aids in fat burning. A matcha drink before you hit the gym may help bring you the lean body you work hard to achieve sooner! You’ll feel energized without being jittery.
- You are getting proven antibiotic powers and an immune system boost.
- Your LDL cholesterol will drop, and your HDL will rise, which keeps your heart healthy.
- Your memory and concentration will improve because L-Theanine fosters the production of two key neurotransmitters: serotonin and dopamine.
- You are getting maximum polyphenol protection that lowers your risk of diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease.
Are there any unexpected benefits or caveats for matcha consumption?
As you may know, preparation of matcha is the heart of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Consequently, preparing and sipping the tea can be a pathway to meditative practice, and that may deliver benefits above and beyond the high-powered polyphenols in the matcha leaves. Matcha reduces cortisol and systemic inflammation that may be the cause of most major diseases.
Though matcha is a well-regarded food among the health conscious, some warnings are in order:
- Matcha, especially that grown in China, contains a significant amount of lead because, unlike other green teas, the entire leaf is taken in. In fact, a cup of matcha contains 10-30 times as much lead as a standard cup of green tea, so if you drink matcha, you must hold yourself in check.
- Because matcha contains lead, it is not suitable for children.
- Ceremonial grade matcha will have the best flavor and the finest nutritional profile, but will also be rather expensive. Before you purchase matcha, you should research its source and preparation.
However, once you have found what is right for you, don’t be inhibited by considering only matcha’s traditional usage if that isn’t your “cup of tea.” Increasingly, chefs are using matcha in soups and stir fry. Use matcha sparingly, but often, and lift your health, vitality, perhaps even longevity, to a higher level.