You know how much I love green tea. It’s one of my favorite daily health regimens. Since I saw the incredible research from universities around the world that confirmed green tea was helpful in losing weight, boosting cognition, and even guarding the body against cancer…I was sold on this delicious (and nutritious) beverage.
There’s a new kid on the block. The benefits of matcha have taken the fitness arena by storm and it just might surpass green leaf tea in regards to total body health.
With standard green (and other) teas, the leaves are steeped in boiling water. Once you drink the tea, you throw the leaves away. Seriously good (and good for you) but…not as good as it can be.
Matcha is the actual leaves, ground into a fine powder that is whisked until well blended in hot water. They are grown, harvested, and processed differently than other teas, which results in the growth of a leaf with a deep, delicious flavor. The leaves are grown under careful conditions, picked by hand, lightly steamed to stop the process of fermentation, dried, and stored cold.
Blah, blah, blah…I know. Boring. You want the good stuff so let’s make it simple: whatever green tea can do, matcha can do a little bit (sometimes a lotta bit) better.
Let’s Talk Polyphenols
Epigallocatechin 3-O-gallate (EGCG) is considered the most potent polyphenol in green tea and matcha has this powerful antioxidant in abundance. Research on the benefits of polyphenols in the treatment (and prevention) of aging, obesity, heart disease, diabetes, inflammation, and cancer have shown fascinating results and scientists have only scratched the tip of the iceberg!
No matter what side of the “traditional versus holistic medicine” battle you’re on, no one can deny the basic health benefits of green tea and matcha by association. EGCG has shown to be protective against renal nephropathy (kidney disease) and hepatic (liver) damage.
We Got Your Caffeine
For those of us hopelessly addicted to the deliciousness (and buzz) of our daily java, the thought of switching to tea makes us grumble more than a little. After all, most teas have one-third the caffeine content as coffee and that’s no fun when you need to get that morning pop to start your day off right (and walk, talk, or remember your spouse’s name). My favorite benefit of matcha is the caffeine equal to coffee but with an interesting side effect…the l-theanine content chills you out. Yes, you read that right. Matcha wakes you up and chills you out.
I need this in my life. Who doesn’t need this in their life?
For those of you who live by the coffee, die by the coffee (cough, cough to my own reflection), this means you get the clarity without the jitter. I don’t get the jitters because my body is a caffeine processing machine but I’ve heard it’s a thing. Replacing one cup of coffee with matcha might be a nice change…or, adding it to the usual coffee consumption. Either way. Do what you feel.
Mix It Up
If you’re not into hot matcha (which sounds like a dance craze), consider adding it to your morning shake or throw it in a few of your recipes to test the waters. It has something of a grassy taste so don’t give up if you don’t prefer it as a standalone beverage. I found that mixing it in the wet ingredients of my vegetable lasagna blended well with the spinach. I plan to test it in my cold weather stew to see how I like it.
Tips and Precautions
Now, a few words about quality and the products you’ll see everywhere touting the benefits of matcha on the label.
Beware of lead content in all teas. Matcha presents more lead exposure possibility since you’re actually consuming the whole leaf (which is usually discarded). Keep matcha drinking down to a cup a day and avoid it if you’re pregnant or nursing.
This also means it isn’t really a drink choice for kids.
If there is more sugar or artificial ingredients than actual matcha, the benefits are unlikely to be present. That’s true with all foods and drinks. Even the ones that have “natural” or “organic” on the marketing materials. Read those labels!
I love green tea and don’t really prefer the matcha as a drink. However, I’m willing to experiment a bit with the matcha because it packs such a powerful antioxidant punch.
Have you tried it? Do you like matcha? How do you use it in your daily life? Tell me in the comments below!