Matcha is a very powerful type of green tea that is grown under special conditions. During the last month prior to harvest, the tea leaves are covered in shade to protect them from sunlight. This increases the antioxidants, chlorophyll, and polyphenol content. In addition, beneficial amino acids are also increased. The tea leaves then go through a unique processing that involves drying, aging, and stone grinding. This is an extremely time-consuming and labor intensive process.
Matcha means “powdered tea”. Unlike regular green tea where the whole leaves are steeped then removed, matcha involves whisking the whole leaf powder into the water and drinking it entirely. Matcha is traditionally made by adding about a teaspoon of powder into hot water and whisking with a bamboo whisk. It comes in numerous grades with a “ceremonial grade” being considered the best. There isn’t any type of standardization with these grades, however, so it would be best to research the sellers claims before purchasing.
Benefits of Matcha
Matcha is typically associated with meditation thanks to its history with Zen monks and Japan’s tea ceremony. Japan is considered to have some of the highest quality matcha in the world. It is so prized that they only export about 4% of their supply.
High quality matcha has a rich grassy taste that ends with a lingering sweetness. It’s a wonderful experience. In fact, it’s so great that I’ve replaced my morning cup of coffee with matcha. Here’s why:
- Matcha was found to have 137 times the antioxidants of green tea(1)
- It is loaded with vitamins and trace minerals (A, B-complex, C, E, and K).
- It exhibits high antioxidant activity with EGCG
- Contains significant quantities of chlorophyll, which helps purify and build blood.
- Combination of caffeine and l-theanine results in increased performance and a calm focus(2).
- One cup of matcha contains the benefits of as many as 10 cups of green tea.
One antioxidant found in significant quantities in matcha is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which is a powerful polyphenol found to have strong antioxidant effects against free radical damage. It has been shown to promote cardiovascular health(3), aid in weight loss(4), and even acts as a therapeutic adjunct in cancer treatment(5,6,7).
L-theanine, a calming amino acid, is fond in high amounts in Matcha. This is due to shade growth, which allows theanine content to increase. L-theanine promotes relaxation, but without any sedating effects. It’s been shown to regulate brain waves and increase alpha brain waves which are associated with a meditative, relaxed state(8). This is how it counteracts caffeine and offers a synergistic effect.
I found that coffee, while providing focus, gave me too much of a jittery feeling. It elevated my anxiety and I never felt quite right on it. Matcha, on the other hand, provided me with the same energy and focus as coffee, but the theanine counteracted the hyperactive feeling that coffee gave.
Waking up to my daily cup of matcha is one experience I look forward to every day. It is much more than just a cup of tea. The nutritious and meditative aspect of matcha has forever changed my daily outlook on life for the better. I’m much happier, productive, and grounded.
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