If you’ve gone to Starbucks recently, googled health recipes, or are generally active in the health world, odds are you’ve heard about matcha. Sometimes it seems like every health store today offers some sort of matcha drink or food! So what exactly is this mysterious green powder?
Matcha is an amazing, all-natural resource that purifies, energizes, and protects our bodies. It is made in Japan from tea leaves that are dried and ground by stone into the fine powder you see on beverages or certain foods.
This makes it distinct from other healthy teas, like green or black tea, which are made up of the nutrients from leaves but not the leaves themselves. It traditionally tastes slightly bitter and grassy, but comes in many varieties, each with their own concoction of flavors.
Matcha plants are carefully tended until close to their harvest time, when they are covered with a shade cloth. This causes the leaves to become a darker shade of green due to the changing chlorophyll levels in the plant. It also increases the amount of nutrients in the leaves. When the plant is mature, the leaves are picked, processed, sold, and mixed into any number of beverages and delicacies around the world.
And yes, before you ask, it does have caffeine! Matcha contains much more caffeine than a cup of coffee or green tea, but the caffeine levels in matcha are more balanced and prolonged.
What are the health benefits?
Matcha is popular because it is so versatile and bright; it’s much more than just a natural tea and it’s packed with healthy nutrients and antioxidants that are great for your body. And because it’s such a flexible substance, it’s easy to find simple ways to incorporate matcha into your diet to get its full benefits. While there are many uses for matcha, these are the four main benefits it provides.
It’s Loaded with Antioxidants. These are chemicals found both in plants and produced by our body that strengthen our body’s immune system by fighting free radicals.
Free radicals are elements that attack our cells and leave us susceptible to diseases, including cancer. Antioxidants attack free radicals and destroy them so that they can’t harm our cells. And matcha is incredibly rich in antioxidants.
For example, matchasource.com has this chart that shows matcha has ten cups of green tea’s worth of antioxidants in just one cup! And it is a better source of antioxidants than any other great sources like goji berries, pomegranates, and spinach.
This means that matcha is excellent at keeping your body’s immune system strong. And on top of all of that, matcha contains a special type of antioxidant called catechin EGCG, which helps to fight cancer cells! Go matcha!
Focus & Energy. Matcha is a caffeinated drink, but it doesn’t give you the same rush that a quick cup of coffee does. It actually contains L-theanine, an amino acid that helps your brain focus and stay relaxed at the same time.
According to matchasource.com, it “may help memory and learning and ability all the while inhibiting any possible side-effects from caffeine,” as well.
So instead of a quick, jittery spike followed by a sugar crash, the kind of energy boost you can expect from coffee or other caffeinated beverages, matcha relaxes your mind and helps you focus at the same time.
This is why Buddhist monks traditionally paired drinking matcha with meditation. Energy, focus, and relaxation are an amazing combination and to have a food source that can give you all three at once isn’t something to miss out on!
Weight Loss. While no substance is a complete weight loss cure-all, matcha comes pretty close. For starters, it’s an entirely natural substance with many healthy properties like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which means that it has almost no calories.
It has also been shown to boost metabolism and increase your body’s rate of burning calories (one study showed that the body’s rate after matcha increased from 10% to 40%!), both of which are important qualities for successful weight loss.
Due to its natural properties, matcha is also great for your body and does all of these things without any side effects that you might find in a prescription or OTC medication for the same purpose.
Natural Detoxifier. Matcha’s green color comes from the amount of chlorophyll in its leaves, but that bright green does more than just look pretty. Chlorophyll is a strong natural detoxifier that cleanses the body of excess toxins and waste.
This can lead to a stronger, healthier body, and who doesn’t want their body operating at peak performance?
So What Can I Do With It?
Matcha is sold as a powder, and because of this it can be used in almost anything. It is baked into desserts like donuts, croissants, and mochi, mixed into stir fries and fruit bowls, and blended into drinks.
The most popular and traditional way to drink matcha is in the form of hot tea. This is traditionally done by whisking a small amount of matcha powder and heated water with a bamboo whisk until it combines into a frothy, smooth tea. It can be blended into lattes and smoothies as well.
Why wait? Matcha can be purchased online or at many health food stores. Do some research, find a quality brand, and start enjoying the health benefits today!
Author: Usman Raza is a freelance writer, marketing specialist at Zensleep and co-founder of Usman Digital Media. When not working, he’s probably spending time with his family. Follow him on Facebook @usmanraza40 and Twitter @usmanintrotech.