So....What Is Matcha?
Glad you asked. Matcha Green Tea is part of the Ancient Japanese culture and is the best quality green tea that you can find. This tea was (and is) so important to the Japanese that it was part of their tea drinking ceremonies.
The origins of Matcha tea come from the Camellia Sinensis plant that is specifically grown in the shade to conserve its chlorophyll content. Young leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant are steamed and ground into an ultra fine powder. This emerald green powder is stored in airtight containers away from light so that its vibrant green colour doesn’t fade and it’s health properties remain potent. It is only now that the modern world has discovered this amazing tea along with its powerful health benefits. The highest quality Matcha green tea has more intense sweetness and deeper flavours so this is the one you want to get.
Matcha vs The Rest
So how does matcha tea compare against other teas? EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) is a powerful polyphenol found in all types of tea, and as you can see from the graph it’s found in abundance in matcha green tea. Caffiene is a potent stimulant of the central nervous system aka your entire brain system—matcha wins again with the highest caffeine content in comparison to other teas.
Caffeine In Matcha
Matcha & Weight Loss
As per the above graph EGCg is found in high levels within matcha. This is responsible for the weight loss resulting from drinking matcha tea on a regular basis. Studies have shown that this catechin can give your metabolism a hefty boost thus enhancing the amount of fat you burn.
EGCg actually inhibits the primary enzyme responsible for breaking down fat allowing it to be easily absorbed into your blood stream, if this enzyme is blocked fat cannot be stored and is used for energy instead.
The scientific evidence is there. One study showed that participant’s fat burning abilities were bumped up by 17% when they cycled for thirty minutes following matcha tea consumption. Further studies have revealed the mechanism behind this effect—matcha green tea slows down the absorption of fats in your intestines.
Antioxidants In Matcha
Antioxidants help rid your body of nasty free radicals and you simply cannot get enough of them. Take a look at how matcha tea compares against other foods known for their high antioxidant levels.
ORAC (Antioxidants) Levels In Matcha
How Matcha Can Make You Live Longer
Helps Fight Diabetes
It is no secret that type 2 diabetes is a global epidemic. Sufferers have trouble managing their blood sugar levels, matcha green tea can help regulate dangerous spikes in blood glucose—known as hyperglycemia.
Retinopathy (blindness), liver and kidney damage are complications of diabetes that manifest when a person’s diabetes gets out of control.
Uncontrolled diabetes results in organs being overloaded with excessive glucose. It now appears that matcha green tea can help. Scientists have found that simply 200mg of matcha tea a day was enough to slow down the damage caused by diabetes in the liver, kidneys and eyes. Matcha treatment was significantly able to lower the levels of glucose, “bad” cholesterol and fat deposition in the liver. This helped the liver to function better and as the liver is the primary detoxifying organ in your body, it is able to clean blood more efficiently.
Slows Down Brain Deterioration
As we age our brains are also ageing and in doing so, undergoing slow neuronal (brain cells) death. The result? Memory loss, reduced functional abilities, slower ability to solve problems and reduced attention processing, all in all the typical reasons why the elderly need so much attention and help. Matcha tea is now being regarded as a promising therapeutic.
One study showed that when we drink matcha green tea the catechins released are absorbed into our blood stream through the intestines. These incredible compounds are then able to cross the all-important (and heavily protected) blood brain barrier—not all nutrients can do this. Once in the brain these catechins prevent neuronal death and consequently brain deterioration. They do this by preventing fats in the brain from being oxidised by dangerous free radicals that roam our body for electron donors.
So what exactly is in this superfood? The best way to see the amazing constituents of Matcha tea is by doing a simple comparison between your regular old green tea bag and ceremonial grade (top notch) Matcha tea.
Matcha Nutritional Profile
Increased Endurance and Energy
Research has proven green tea’s ability to increase endurance whilst exercising. In an animal study mice were able to run for 30% longer when fed Matcha green tea extract. The researchers attributed this boost in endurance with two main factors—increased metabolism and the body using fat as it’s primary source of energy.
This means that a cup of Matcha tea can leave you energised for up to 6 hours longer, making it a great beverage to start the day with. Imagine getting more done without feeling sluggish after a couple of hours!
Helps Fight Contaminants
Let’s face it. We all succumb to the greasy goodness of fast food from time to time, whether it’s a platter of grilled ribs or a chicken stick from the kebab shop. Such foods are prone to contaminants called benzopyrenes linked to food poisoning and lung cancer.
These little contaminants can enter our cells and damage their DNA and in doing so initiate cancer. Matcha green tea has been shown to profoundly inhibit the absorption of benzopyrenes in our cells. So next time you have a guilty greasy meal, have a cup of matcha green tea afterwards to protect your cells against DNA damage.
Most of the extraordinary health properties of Matcha tea are because of it’s high content of catechins. Here is a breakdown of the various catechins in Matcha green tea and their health benefits:
- Strong antioxidant
- Promotes the integrity of blood vessels in your heart
- Helps maintain blood pressure
- Mimics insulin thereby improving glucose levels in your blood
- Reverse the growth of the notorious bacteria known as Staphyloccocus aureus (“golden staph”) that causes localised staph infections
- Enhance the effect of drugs on Staphylococcus aureus
- An antioxidant that is 25-100 times more powerful than vitamin C
- Protects body against oxidative damage
Matcha green tea contains compounds called saponins. These little babies block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestines. They do this by interfering with the mechanisms by which cholesterol is broken up into small droplets called micelles so it can be taken up by cells.
They even interfere with the release of cholesterol from droplets that have already taken up cholesterol. This reduces the amount of cholesterol circulating in your blood and depositing at various sites such as the arteries of your heart. Furthermore the polyphenols in Matcha green tea prevent LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from being oxidised. Oxidised cholesterol is the main event that leads to clot formation that ultimately causes heart attacks and strokes.
Memory & Concentration
Theanine is one of the major components of matcha green tea. This amino acid is being studied closely by scientists for its benefits in inducing a calm state of mind and improving our level of concentration. There is a whopping 40mg of L-theanine found in each cup of matcha green tea compared to brewed green tea which contains a measly 9mg!
Research indicates that theanine can improve your mood, memory capacity, reduce depression and improves your brain working power (helping you complete tasks faster and more efficiently). What’s more is that in combination with the caffeine content of matcha green tea theanine helps to slow the release of caffeine into the bloodstream. This results in stabalised energy levels, unlike the sharp peak in energy that you get from your average cup of coffee.
Protection From Infection
One of the most amazing benefits of matcha green tea is its ability to give your immune system a much-needed boost. The compounds in matcha tea help prevent allergic reactions that can occur as a result of foreign molecules that your immune system can’t tolerate.
Furthermore the EGCgs in matcha green tea exert an antimicrobial effect on foreign bacteria that can cause infections such as the commonly known Candidas Albicans—culprit behind thrush. These EGCgs also prevent build up of free radicals in your blood stream—thereby protecting your organs from oxidative damage.
Great Source of Chlorophyll
As Matcha tealeaves are grown away from sunlight they retain a high level of chlorophyll. It is now coming to our attention that consuming chlorophyll rich foods has a number of health benefits. One 2013 study found that compounds in chlorophyll may help in curbing hunger cravings and aiding weight loss. Chlorophyll is also an excellent remedy for digestive issues such as constipation and bloating.
This amazing substance has been used to speed up the healing process for over a hundred years. The anti-inflammatory compounds in Matcha green tea make it an ideal beverage to help relieve joint and muscle pain.
Detoxifies Your Body
Eating out, stress and pollution, all contribute to the accumulation of toxins in our body, leaving us feeling sluggish, ill and unable to concentrate on the good things in life. Instead of heading over to your local pharmacy for a quick-fix detox package it’s much better if you switch to matcha green tea.
As you may know your liver is the major detoxifying organ in your body that removes toxic substances from your blood ensuring that it doesn’t contain harmful impurities such as toxic metals and nitrates. Matcha green tea protects your liver cells against damage from chemicals and alcohol. Off course you are advised to drink matcha tea in moderation as too much can lead to liver damage.
Improves Your Skin
Aah the things we do to get clear and glowing skin! Our skin is subject to the most wear and tear from the sun as well as from internal processes initiated by stress, hormones and poor diets. Matcha green tea helps to slow down the rate of oxidative damage in your skin allowing it to stay smooth, supple and glowing throughout the years.
Not only this but it’s anti-inflammatory properties mean it can be topically applied to skin in the form of a paste to combat acne and redness. It’s recommended to apply matcha green tea powder on the skin in the form of a mask as it’s much more potent than just drinking it as tea.
You can tell the quality of matcha tea simply from it’s aroma, taste and colour. The highest ceremonial grade matcha tea is a brilliant hue of green, smells like a basket of freshly picked green vegies and tastes slightly sweet.
Matcha tea that’s dull green, smells stale and tastes unpleasantly bitter is not worth trying and certainly doesn’t carry the same health benefits as pure matcha green tea.
Uses Of Matcha Green Tea
There are endless ways of incorporating matcha green tea in your culinary creations.
Matcha tea is currently trending in a vast array of desserts such as ice cream, cupcakes, pancakes and much more.
Matcha green tea powder can also be used in marinades and soups, not only will your food look vibrant but it will also taste great and be immensely good for your health.
This is the most common (and easiest) way that matcha green tea is consumed. The right way to prepare matcha green tea is to sift it in water that is just under the boil and whisk vigorously until it looks frothy. You can add this to chilled milk for a delicious iced latte. Enjoy!