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The Health Benefits of Matcha

From yoga and meditation to acupuncture and cupping, in recent years traditional Asian medicinal practices have grown popular around the world. Have you tried Matcha yet? It's believed by many to have outstanding health benefits. Matcha originally came from ancient China and has been used there in tea ceremonies for many centuries. 

With coffee houses and grocery stores jumping on the matcha bandwagon, many people are starting to appreciate the health benefits it offers. So, what exactly is matcha and why is everyone drinking it?

What is matcha tea?

Matcha is a special kind of green tea that literally translates to “powdered tea.” Traditional teas are prepared by infusing hot water with tea leaves. Matcha, however, is made of finely powdered green tea leaves that are mixed into hot water. Unlike other green teas, matcha is grown in the shade for three weeks before harvest. It’s also unique because the veins of the plant are removed before processing.

Matcha is bright green in color and is often described as having an earthy or spinach-like taste. High-quality matcha can be slightly sweet, and a good batch of matcha should not be bitter.

The health benefits of matcha

Because matcha is grown differently than traditional green tea, it has different health properties. Many of these benefits can be found in regular green tea but may be more potent in matcha because the leaves are consumed rather than steeped and discarded.

Matcha is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which can protect against heart disease and cancer, regulate blood sugar, reduce blood pressure, boost metabolism and prevent signs of aging. Matcha is also high in fiber, which can aid in healthy digestion.

Matcha contains roughly three times the amount of caffeine found in steeped teas, making it comparable to a cup of coffee. However, because matcha is shade-grown, it produces more L-theanine than other green teas. L-theanine is an amino acid that can reduce anxiety and lower blood pressure.

When consumed with caffeine, L-theanine can reduce caffeine's jittery or anxious side effects while still giving you a boost of energy. That’s why many people describe matcha’s effect as a "calm alertness."

matcha powder

Types of matcha tea

There are three grades of matcha tea:

  • Ceremonial grade – high-quality matcha tea used in tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples
  • Premium grade – high-quality matcha best for daily consumption; contains full nutritional benefits such as antioxidants, vitamins and minerals
  • Culinary grade – inexpensive and suitable for cooking; slightly bitter

Unfortunately, there are no regulations on matcha. Therefore, many inexpensive matchas marketed as healthy beverages may actually be culinary grade matcha and lack the health benefits of a higher quality matcha.

When it comes to matcha, price does matter. Higher grade matchas not only taste better but are better for you, as they contain the full nutritional value people look for in matcha.

scoop of matcha ice cream

Common uses of matcha

While matcha was originally used only for tea, it can be added to a variety of beverages and foods for flavor, color and health benefits. Here are a few common ways people use matcha around the world.

  • Hot tea - Traditionally, matcha is served as a hot tea beverage. Simply mix the matcha powder into hot water and whisk together until smooth.
  • Lattes - Matcha lattes have become more common in recent years. To make a matcha latte, combine matcha powder with hot water and add steamed milk.
  • Smoothies - Matcha powder can easily be added to your favorite smoothie recipe. Matcha pairs well with banana, almond milk and honey.
  • Baked goods - To make matcha-infused baked goods, simply add two to four teaspoons of matcha powder to the dough or batter before baking.
  • Ice cream - You can make your own matcha ice cream by mixing in two teaspoons of matcha powder for each cup of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

Matcha can be the perfect substitute if you are looking for a caffeine boost that won’t make you feel jittery. It's also packed with antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, so it's not surprising that matcha has become very popular in the last few years.

 

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