The questions, including “What are matcha benefits?” & “What is matcha tea?” have been coming up more often as of late. So we here at NaturallyBeautiful.life, being big green tea lovers and DIY Home Remedies advocates, naturally have to join this discussion. Here comes our take on the breathtaking variety of matcha benefits. And, if you get excited too, – the history of this great green tea, how it is grown and carefully selected, dried and grounded up. To top off our exploration of what’s matcha tea and how do you eat it, we will actually list the traditional preparation methods with quick shortcuts to save hours of time doing it.
What is Matcha
Matcha is a type of green tea. It’s mostly revered in Japan and buddhist monks honor it for its meditative qualities, calling it the health elixir. Please, note, from now on: when we talk of matcha – we mean the powder or the drink (made of that powder by mixing and not brewing). When referring to matcha tea – we actually mean the plant and its leaves. Matcha in itself is dry matcha tea leaves ground up into powder, which is later consumed in whole..
Incredible benefits of Matcha
Matcha is not the regular green tea, which we would add to boiling water and let sit a while. No, here we make our own drinks with matcha powder, typically mixing it with water or milk. Sometimes matcha comes as food flavor, or even coloring dye (mochi ice cream). The tea is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins (A, many of Bs, C, E, K) and trace minerals. And wide range of amino-acids makes it very nutritious. No matter, let’s get right to the amazing matcha benefits for health.
1. Extremely Full of Antioxidants
Matcha is stuffed with antioxidants. Read more on what antioxidants are and see that they help other cells not to oxidize, thus protecting them from damage. Which great antioxidant food do you know? Right, blueberries are a good source of antioxidants. Well, guess what? Matcha powder has 15 (fifteen) times more antioxidants (per gram, yes, it’s dry tea, so it’s understandable, but still, so much more) than blueberries. Matcha benefits from really high levels of EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), where catechin is pretty much another word for antioxidant (with more functions). EGCG is not fully studied yet, but it is known to have many health beneficial qualities, which we’ll touch upon farther down.
2. Helps prevent type-2 Diabetes
Some studies indicate that matcha may be helpful to some diabetic patients to help maintain their metabolism in a close-to-healthy state. Antioxidants at work here, helping reduce triglycerides levels, hence reducing cholesterol and glucose levels in blood.
3. Improves Cardiovascular Health
A big study has found that administering matcha on a prolonged period of time may help decrease glucose, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels in the serum and liver, protecting from forming and accumulation of advanced glycation end products. While that helps people suffering from diabetes, it also improves body’s CVD system. Less glycation means cleaner blood vessels, lesser blood pressure and smaller chances of mini strokes. Plus of course lowering of cholesterol levels, thanks in part to EGCG, is also a great benefit of matcha tea in means of CVD improvement.
4. Strengthens Immune, Antibacterial
Antioxidants per-say and many other amazing elements contained in matcha (polyphenols, catechins, chlorophyll, amino acids, EGCG, etc) greatly help improve and strengthen our immune system, boosting our natural defence mechanism. EGCG also effectively fights bacteria, viruses and fungus. It goes deep and binds itself to the cells, where it tries to inhibit the growth of different flu viruses, hepatitis B and C viruses, other bacteria and bad yeast. Even the ever present herpes virus is affected by EGCG matcha is “stuffed” with.
5. Gives that Energy (Calm version)
Matcha is full of caffeine. But in this case we don’t advice against its consumption, but recommend it. Try it out, this caffeine is different from the stuff found in coffee. It’s called theophylline, which is known to be much alike caffeine, but a much calmer version of it. So it brings all the caffeine “benefits” packaged in a nice calm way. It is widely used in medicine for therapy of respiratory diseases (pulmonary & asthma), it increases heart rate and blood pressure promoting better blood flow, has anti-inflammatory effects, relaxes bronches. It helps people suffering from various forms of apnea. Even possible better sense of smell…
6. Powerful detoxifier, toxin flusher
Here chlorophyll comes to shine. Thanks to the special way of matcha tea growth and harvesting, it is a very strong and rich source of chlorophyll. And chlorophyll is an amazing toxin flusher, which helps clean the blood and maintain its alkaline levels. Chlorophyll detox also improves colon health. Regular consumption of matcha promotes better potty time, helping flush harmful toxins out of the colon, also promoting better gastrointestinal health.
7. Cancer prevention, HIV protection
EGCG is extremely versatile and helpful to our bodies. One of its amazing qualities includes effectiveness in preventing the HIV, by deeply penetrating the blood, and reaching and treating every cell personally, which is not possible in man-made medicine yet. With matcha diet, HIV patients exhibit better brain activity and less retrogression effects. Same principle makes matcha very effective in preventing Cancer, its metastatic growth and spreading in body. Polyphenols also help prevent proliferation (rapid growth and multiplying) of malignant cancerous cells, thus reducing the chances of some of the forms of cancer, including bladder, colon and rectal cancers.
8. Better Mental/Brain function
Matcha’s amino acids combines with L-Theanine have been noticed to boost the brain’s alpha waves, thus promoting better relaxation, while keeping one in quite an alert state of mind. That state is sought by all yoga practitioners and many use matcha to reach the calm meditative state before and after sessions. Drinking matcha on a regular basis will greatly improve concentration and may help tackle complex problems that seem impossible to take care of.
9. Fights Obesity, Reduces Hunger
EGCG, oh so wonderful, also helps obesity suffering individuals reduce their cravings, reduce the hunger itself. It directly affects our hormones, one of them – the cholecystokinin – answers for our hunger levels, which EGCG sustains and regulates, making people feel less hungry. Matcha is full of EGCG thanks to the fact that the whole plant is consumed via the powdering and drink-mixing means.
10. Reduces Stress, Inflammation
Great meditative qualities plus high levels of theanine in matcha powder help reduce psychological and physiological stress. Coupled with theophylline they improve anti-inflammatory functions.
So, did we catch your attention with these 10-turn-20 great irreplaceable health benefits of matcha tea and drinks made of it? If so, or even for your personal information and education, read more below on how to make matcha drinks and save time doing it, and how Japanese may actually disapprove of you cutting corners in matcha preparation rituals (given you do try to save time while making matcha).
Matcha History & Culture
Japanese say: drink matcha with your back straight and the pleasure will double. Yes, true believers and matcha tea enthusiasts (and their army is growing every moment, more and more people realize matcha is something to be tried and incorporated into their diet) know how matcha tea came to be and why it is important to observe certain rules and traditions related to this marvelous drink. Matcha is a big part of the Japanese Tea Ceremony. Thus lots of attention is paid to its growth and harvest. The process requires that tea trees will be covered away from the sun, which stocks them full of chlorophyll and gives them that unique radiant true green color. Then after 2-3 weeks in the shade, which in part promotes the production of extra amino-acids, since the plant thinks winter is coming, the harvest starts. Leaves from higher up on the stem are considered more potent and are used in production of more expensive matcha.
Sencha, tencha, and matcha grades
Leaves are taken off the stems, sorted and then dried (also away from the sun). If leaves are dried rolled – then sencha is produced (which can be prepared as normal green tea). If leaves are spread flat and dried that way so they crumble eventually – that is how tencha is made. After de-veining tencha leaves and removing all the stems, remaining crumbles are now ground (preferably with a special stone grinder) into fine powder, which is the matcha we know. Grinding stones can’t warm up not to affect the tea aroma, thus the grinding process is very slow, 2 tablespoons of matcha can take up to 2 hours to grind from tencha. That’s where higher prices come in, plus it’s grown pretty much only in Japan, and even there it only accounts for 0.5% of all tea growth, so yeah.. Those are the reasons why matcha is so expensive.
Matcha tea generally differs into 3 categories (by potency, quality, etc, thus several price levels). First there’s the top quality tea used for ceremonies in temples and at high summits – Ceremonial grade. It could cost as much as $100-150 for just a 100 gram box (about 4 oz, quarter pound) of matcha powder. It is very hard to notice difference between this grade and the next – Premium grade, which is noticeably twice cheaper ($50-80 for 100gr), and contains as much nutrients and vitamins (and EGCG of course) as the ceremonial grade tea. And there’s of course Cooking/Culinary grade, which is the cheapest powder and can be used to add to food for flavor and coloring, mixed with milk, etc.
Making matcha drink (preparation)
Calm down even before making matcha tea into a drink. If you don’t plan to impress some native Japanese people with your matcha tea ceremony, then you can do with just 3 items: a special bowl called “chawan”, a bamboo whisk called “chasen” and a special little bamboo spoon called “chashaku”. All 3 words seem to have “cha” in them, and cha is “chai”, the word for “tea” in many asian languages.
Sometimes it’s useful to sift the powder to break up clumps before making matcha. Generally 1-3 chashaku spoons of matcha powder are placed into the chawan bowl. Then hot water is added, not boiling, but hot at about 75C (170F). Now it’s turn for chasen to work, slowly whisking the mixture, speeding up to produce froth, or no froth at all, depending on the matcha-making school and tradition. There must be no lumps left, drink must be uniform and smooth.
Now two strong types of matcha drink emerge. First is called “usucha” (thin tea), where 1.5 chashakus of powder are mixed with 2.5 oz of hot water. This produces lighter and slightly more bitter drink. Second is “koicha” (thick tea), it requires more matcha and less water. 3 spoons of matcha powder for only 1.3oz of water. It must be blended without any foam, slowly and patiently. Koicha is made of the Ceremonial grade matcha and is consumed mostly at ceremonies in Japan. It is harvested from 30-40 year old trees, making it a less bitter, milder, even sweeter drink.
Cutting Corners while drinking Matcha
If you don’t have any bamboo spoons of whisks, if you want to save time but still enjoy all the benefits from consuming matcha, if you are making it for yourself and don’t need to adhere to ceremonial steps… If you just want a cold matcha drink.. Well, simply take pour 80z of milk (warm milk is also good) into a glass and add about 1.5 teaspoon of matcha powder in there, mix it well with a fork or a metal whisk, and drink it. For those seeking smooth and blended drink – use your blender, simply put milk and powder into the blender and run it for a few seconds. Adding fresh fruit for some extra kick is more than welcome.
Be careful, don’t matcha-overdose
Matcha is full of caffeine (brother), no matter how calm and energetic you might feel, there are still negative caffeine effects, which include headaches, jitters, confusion, increased urination, irritability, heartburn, nausea, diarrhea, rapid heartbeat, increased blood pressure, and many others. Some people might be allergic to caffeine in particular and matcha tea in general. It’s always good to ask your physician and/or allergist if matcha will be a good match for you (pardon my pun). Some of matcha’s benefits could actually work against your preexisting conditions, so be careful. If you insist of consuming matcha mixed drinks and are not sure about it, but still wanna do it.. Well, just don’t rush into it. But do hurry up, you’re missing out on some quality alternative health measures and disease prevention!
You definitely should buy some matcha, try it out, see how you feel. Matcha is an amazing drink with a whole array of health benefits. It is the only tea that is basically eaten with leaves and everything. Not boiled, – just mixed with water or milk. It has a long culture in Japan and big following there and all over the world as of recently. If you want to feel well and improve your life accepting views and general well-being – drink matcha and enjoy your better life!
During writing this article, some of the technical info is taken from this wikipedia article – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha