I find that matcha green tea is an experience that manages to be both meditative and decadent. It starts with an unassuming green powder that is whisked into not-quite-boiling water. Once served, you will immediately notice a smooth, creamy texture heightened by a vegetal, almost grassy, kick. Finally, it ends with a faint yet pleasant sweetness that lingers in your mouth.
Some people may find its complexity strange at first, but most of its fans, myself included, consider it to be the ultimate green tea experience. I find that it is best consumed on lazy weekend mornings when I have time to breathe, away from the hustle of work. You may whisk it into your afternoon latte or cake frosting, too.
This is arguably one of the most important of the benefits of matcha green tea: It just tastes really good. On top of that, there are plenty of health benefits to boot. But don’t take my word for it. Let’s run through the matcha research.
1. Matcha is jam-packed with cleansing and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
One thing that sets matcha apart from other teas is that you are essentially consuming the entire leaf and not just a decoction. This means that you get much more of the benefits associated with the tea. Studies show that green tea is one of the best dietary sources of antioxidants such as phenols and flavonoids. Moreover, antioxidants are more efficiently extracted from powdered green teas such as matcha.
By the way, if you’re not yet aware of what antioxidants do, these are substances that neutralize cancer-causing free radicals. True enough, the research does show that tea consumption is associated with lower levels of cancers of the liver, the endometrium, and the prostate.
Not bad for something that’s pleasure in a cup.
2. It protects against heart disease and could keep fat out of your body as well.
People who drink at least three cups of tea a day have a lower risk of coronary heart disease and stroke than those who don’t. While scientists still need to look into how this works exactly, test tube studies suggest that green tea may inhibit the absorption of fat in your digestive tract.
Since unhealthy fats such as low-density lipoproteins are linked to heart disease, that’s probably how matcha tea can be protective. As an added bonus, if the fat-blocking properties that scientists see in test tubes apply to our digestive systems, matcha could play a role in weight loss.
3. It reduces your risk for diabetes and liver disease.
I mentioned earlier that tea is associated with a lower risk for liver cancer. But the risk reduction also applies to liver cirrhosis and other liver diseases.
In addition, studies have found that a tea habit actually lowers your risk of getting diabetes later in life, since diabetes is associated with numerous health risks such as heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
With all these benefits, it’s really no wonder that the Japanese associate their reputation for long life to tea!
4. It promotes relaxation and good memory.
It’s not a huge jump to associate matcha tea with meditation and peaceful Zen gardens. It turns out that this vision is backed up by science as well. People who drank at least three cups of tea a day were seen to have a 37% lower relative risk for depression. The research shows that the theanine and catechins in green tea may be neuroprotective — which means that they may improve memory and focus as well as protect against conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Theanine is also associated with a mental state known as “alert relaxation.” While this may seem like an oxymoron, it simply means a level of alertness wherein you are neither anxious nor jittery. Matcha could just be the new coffee.
I’ll be honest, though: All these benefits of matcha green tea hardly cross my mind as I’m enjoying cup after cup of liquid delight in the peace of my home. But it’s always nice to know that this delicious drink is doing wonders for my body as well!