Matcha Green Tea
What is matcha green tea
It is a powdered herbal infusion made from green tea which is grown and processed in a special way. Besides occupying an integral part in the Japanese and Chinese cultures, this powdered variation of green tea comes along with an array of health benefits that make it a useful herbal beverage.
History and Origin
Matcha green tea has an ancient history dating back to the Tang dynasty of China where the leaves were made into tea bricks after steaming and drying for easy usage as well as trade. The Song dynasty of China too followed the tradition of mixing the powdered tea and hot water in a bowl for a refreshing beverage. The ritual of drinking powdered tea became an essential tradition of the Zen Buddhists, with mention of the ceremonies made in their early sources. The Chinese technique of drinking powdered tea got introduced to Japan by a Buddhist priest named Esai in 1191. Over the years its popularity in China reduced, but in Japan, it continued to be an essential beverage, highly preferred among the upper strata throughout the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries.
There is a unique growing process for this tea where the plants are cultivated in shades for approximately 21 days prior harvesting, with the best leaves ground into a fine powder.
Besides the herbal infusion, in the present times, the powdered matcha is used for flavoring dishes like mochi (rice cake), ice cream, lattes and other confectionaries. Matcha green tea smoothies made from the powder is also a preferred and sought after beverage.
Its usage is also gaining a foot in North America where Green Tea latte alongside other drinks has been introduced.
Does matcha green tea have caffeine
One cup of matcha green tea contains about 34 mg of caffeine. However, it has an intense and longer effect on the body since it is rich in the amino acid L-theanine. When whisked with hot water the caffeine is released into the body slowly over a span of 6 to 8 hours.
Health benefits of matcha green tea: What is it good for
Due to its high caffeine content, this infusion acts as a great energy stimulator. Research shows that matcha green tea can improve endurance by 24%. The tea was a popular drink of the samurais of Japan before heading for the battlefield.
Matcha tea is high in the amino acid L-theanine which is known to have stress-relieving properties. It enhances the alpha wave production in the human brain, hence reducing anxiety and leading to a relaxed and calm mind. Studies have revealed that L-theanine can even stabilize the strong effects of caffeine, therefore minimizing any feelings of dizziness that is usually brought about by most depressants.
Because of these relaxant properties, the decoction was consumed by the Buddhist monks to remain calm yet alert during meditation.
Apart from polyphenol, the tea has a host of other antioxidants, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) being one of the most important ones. In fact, among several studies, one of them conducted in 2003 at the University of Colorado highlights that a cup of the powdered matcha tea has 137 times more EGCG than other green teas.
Due to its high antioxidant properties, it helps in neutralizing the harmful effects of free radicals, thus shielding the body from various disorders resulting from oxidative stress like cancer.
Research shows that EGCG contains chemo-preventive properties while the polyphenols prevent the growth of the malignant cells, thus minimizing the risk of developing bladder, colorectal or other cancer types.
The antioxidant, catechin, helps in boosting one’s eyesight as well as shielding the eyes from common conditions like glaucoma.
The low calorie content makes it beneficial in losing weight by boosting the body’s metabolism and fat burning process without causing any side effects such as an increased heart rate or blood pressure like other weight loss pills.
Studies mentioned in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reveals that matcha green tea possesses thermogenic properties which may increase the fat burning process at a rate of 25% when taken just before an exercise regime.
Hence including matcha green tea as a part of your weight loss program, alongside other measures would assist you in shedding the extra carbs.
Maintains heart health
Matcha green tea has a positive impact on the cardiovascular health because of the presence of the catechin (an antioxidant) EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which keeps a check on the cholesterol levels that is said to be one of the prime causes of heart ailments.
For the skin
Another benefit of the antioxidant EGCG is its positive effect on the skin, protecting it from the harmful ultraviolet rays as well as lessening inflammation and any damage caused by free radicals. Hence, it ensures a glowing skin preventing it from aging prematurely. Apart from drinking it, the tea powder can also be mixed with honey and applied as a face mask for increased benefits.
Aids in digestion
Besides its detoxifying properties that help in eliminating the toxic wastes through feces, it is also rich in fiber that facilitates in relieving constipation, thus leading to a sound digestive health.
Matcha tea, rich in chlorophyll, acts as a detoxifier, flushing out the harmful toxins from the body. However, more research is needed to validate this function of chlorophyll.
Research states that the ECGC (epigallocatechin) with its anti-bacterial properties binds itself with the lipid membrane, thus inhibiting the growth of the virus (influenza A, hepatitis B, and C), bacteria and other human pathogens in our body, thus helping to fight against viral and bacterial infections. In this way it supports to maintain our overall health, thus maintaining the immune system.
Combats bad breath
Its anti-bacterial properties make it effective in fighting bad breath as well as keeping the teeth and gums in a good state. Drink a cup of this refreshing beverage after meal time for a sound oral health.
Matcha green tea vs. green tea
Though matcha and the standard green tea are derived from the same plant, there are some differences between the two.
- Matcha is bright green particularly because of its high chlorophyll content while the regular green tea has a brownish tinge.
- Matcha has a smoother texture than green tea.
- Matcha has a greater caffeine content than green tea.
- The proportion of catechins, polyphenols, and tannins are higher in matcha than green tea.
How to make or prepare matcha green tea
Traditional way (Using a bowl)
- Tea bowl
- Bamboo whisk
- Measuring ladle
- Matcha powder ( 1 to 2 teaspoon)
- Water (1 cup or 8 ounces)
- Take the powder in the strainer
- Shake it well to ensure it is free of clumps and then sift it into the bowl
- Take hot water in a cup and after it has cooled to 180 – 190 °C pour it into the bowl having the matcha powder. Do not add the green tea to the boiling water as its grassy taste will get more intense.
- Whisk the mixture in a circular, zigzag motion for about 10 to 15 seconds till your tea has attained a bright, green color.
- You can pour it in a teacup or directly drink it from the bowl.
- Add honey or any sweetener since it has a grass-like taste.
To get an aromatic flavor, you can even add pieces of chopped or ground ginger for a matcha ginger tea.
Matcha in a cup
- Matcha powder
- Heat the water
- Add a few drops of it to the powder to make a paste
- Add more water for a thick concoction
- Your matcha is ready to drink
Matcha green tea latte
- Matcha green tea powder (1 teaspoon)
- Sugar ( 2 teaspoons)
- Warm water ( 3 tablespoons)
- Milk ( Hot: 300 ml; cold: 250 ml)
- Take the matcha powder and sugar in a cup or bowl
- Slowly add the warm water and stir using a spoon or whisk to ensure there are no lumps
- First, heat the milk and then slowly pour it into the cup
- To get a smooth, light green paste use a whisk for blending the milk with the mixture
- To garnish, you may sprinkle matcha powder on top or even add ice for an iced latte
Tip: Avoid using cow’s milk as it comes in the way of the nutritional benefits of matcha. Instead, almond, soy or coconut milk is a better option.
When to drink matcha green tea
Since there may be several reasons to drink the tea like weight loss, as a stress reducer or energizer, each purpose has a stipulated time for consuming it.
Drinking it early morning when the stomach is empty is not advisable since it may result in various side effects. If you have it as an energy drink, then take it before working out. It is recommended to drink it an hour after your mealtime whether it be lunch or dinner so that the tea does not come in the way of the body’s nutrient absorbing capacity.
Though matcha green tea has no known side effects, overconsumption may lead to diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Avoid drinking the tea if you are allergic to caffeine. It is also said to have adverse effects on the thyroid gland though research is needed regarding the same.
Though drinking matcha green tea is considered to be safe during pregnancy, its consumption should be limited, keeping its caffeine content in mind. In fact, taking it in increased amounts may result in neural tube defects in babies. However, it is safe to consult a doctor before including it in your diet.
Breastfeeding mothers can also drink it though in limited amounts to prevent any complications.
Where to buy
You can purchase the matcha powder or tea bags online or in health stores selling herbal teas. However, organic matcha green tea powder is preferable since they are devoid of any artificial fertilizers.
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