You’re So Matcha: The Health Benefits of Matcha
Meet Your “Matcha”
What looks and tastes a lot like green tea but may be better at helping people lose weight, clear up acne and protect against disease?
It’s matcha, the popular powder that comes from the same Camellia sinensis plant as green tea. But here’s one big difference: Just one cup of tea made with matcha has 137 times more antioxidants than green tea.
How can that be? Let’s take a look.
The Harvesting Process Empowers Matcha’s Health Benefits
Matcha is created by a demanding method.
In springtime, the harvesting begins with tea leaves growing under shade. That prolongs the growing period, slowly letting in just enough sunlight to boost the leaves’ caffeine and amino acid theanine.
What’s theanine? It’s a stress reducer that maximizes caffeine’s effects in matcha while slowing down its speed, resulting in a more soothing energy boost.
Once the leaves are picked, they are deveined and stripped of stems. Many growers then steam the leaves to reduce oxidation, making them greener. Next, the leaves are often air-dried, oven-dried, chopped, and ground into fine green powder known as matcha.
By the time matcha reaches your cup, you are mixing the powder — almost the entire ground-up leaf — into hot water, unlike the steeping process of regular tea bags.
Since you’re drinking pulverized leaf, you’re consuming a potent concentration of the leaves’ nutrients, especially antioxidants and chlorophyll.
Body Part by Body Part
An energy boost is just one of the many ways matcha may be a great addition to a healthy lifestyle. Studies have shown that matcha may help people with:
- Losing weight
- Reducing anxiety and inflammation
- Fighting bacteria in wounds
- Clearing skin
- Improving memory and reaction time
- Lowering cholesterol
- Reducing the risk of heart disease and strokes
- Shrinking liver, stomach and breast tumors
- Shrinking prostate and skin cancer cells
Does Matcha Have a Downside?
Potential side effects of matcha have been similar to side effects of over-caffeination: diarrhea, and trouble sleeping when consumed too close to bedtime. To avoid over-caffeination, try limiting matcha intake to two cups per day, and have the last cup in the afternoon.
History in Every Sip
Matcha was a drink of choice among Buddhists and Zen philosophers near the turn of the 11th century, appealing to East Asian and Japanese sensibilities.
These matcha enthusiasts developed precious rituals still practiced today.
Many preparers heat water to near boiling, use a wooden spatula to push the matcha powder through a little stainless steel wire mesh to declump it, and use a bamboo whisk to break up lumps and pull powder off the sides of the tea bowl.
How you choose to enjoy matcha is up to you. You may want to make it into a bold, robust tea or turn it into a matcha latte with a bit of froth or a dash of sweetener.
“Matcha” More Than Tea
Matcha powder may make a great cup of tea, but it may also be used to amp up some favorite flavors. Add matcha to your morning smoothie, sprinkle it over oatmeal, sneak it into homemade salad dressings, or make it into dessert with our tempting recipe for Matcha in a Mug Cake!
Matcha in a Mug Cake
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour, brown rice flour, or whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon matcha powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar, coconut sugar, or brown sugar
3 tablespoons low-fat milk, or unsweetened dairy-free milk
2 teaspoons vegetable oil, coconut oil, or grapeseed oil
Powdered sugar (optional)
In a microwave-safe mug, add dry ingredients (flour, matcha powder, baking powder and sugar). Mix well and break up any lumps.
Whisk in milk and oil until smooth. Microwave at full power for about 1 minute. Let it cool for 1 or 2 minutes.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if using, and enjoy!
Nutrition Information per serving: