What is Matcha?
This bright green powder swept the wellness scene years ago, but it’s not going anywhere anytime soon! Originating in Japan over 1,000 years ago, matcha is made from pulverizing green tea leaves into a fine powder. This processing is what makes matcha different from green tea, and what gives matcha its unique health benefits.
Matcha plants are grown in the shade for three weeks, then de-stemmed and deveined before harvesting and processing. Green tea leaves, on the other hand, are picked, steamed and then dried, allowing oxidation to occur. Shade growing increases the amount of theanine, chlorophyll, and epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, in the plant.
EGCG - a powerful antioxidant, preventing free radical damage in cells and known for its anti-aging benefits.
L-theanine - an amino acid that greatly reduces stress, fights cancer and heart disease, and supports mental focus, among countless other benefits.
Chlorophyll - a substance that allows plants to absorb energy from sunlight, and makes them green. For humans, it’s a superfood, full of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and key in fighting cancer, replenishing red blood cells, improving digestion and detoxification, and much more.
There’s also a major difference in how you consume matcha versus green tea. Green tea is consumed in a tea bag, which is steeped in hot water and then discarded. Matcha powder is whisked with hot water and then often combined with steamed milk to create a delicious frothy beverage, which means you’re consuming the entire green tea leaf!
Why Should You Drink Matcha?
Matcha has a lot of excellent health benefits:
Decreases bodily inflammation
Green tea contains catechins, a type of polyphenol (or antioxidant) that has been shown to decrease inflammation, which can alleviate digestive health issues overtime, such as IBD, Crohn’s, and ulcerative colitis. Decreasing bodily inflammation is also beneficial for reducing risk of cancer, improving immunity, as well as supporting overall heath.
Increases focus without the jitters often caused by coffee
A cup of matcha contains more caffeine than a cup of green tea and slightly less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, but thanks for the amino acid L-theanine, the caffeine in matcha is metabolized more slowly, leaving you with the same (or even more) energy without the jitters.
Does not affect sleep as much as coffee
Because of the difference in how the caffeine in matcha is metabolized, it may not have as much of an impact on your sleep quality. L-theanine is responsible for lowering blood pressure and heart rate, which is ideal for good sleep. But everyone is different and handles caffeine differently! Bio-individuality – the things that make you uniquely you – is what will determine if matcha is right for you and if you’re able to drink it without affecting your sleep.
Acts as an anti-microbial in the body
The four main catechins (polyphenols) in green tea leaves have anti-microbial properties and studies have shown that these polyphenols work synergistically with other known anti-microbial agents, such as drugs that fight certain infections, to fight pathogens.
Alkalizes the body
Your body must maintain a certain pH in order to maintain good health! If too acidic, your body isn’t able to properly get rid of toxins, move carbon dioxide out of the lungs, and much more. Matcha green tea is highly alkaline due to its chlorophyll content as well as how its processed, which makes drinking matcha a great option if you’re looking to find more pH balance.
Boosts metabolism and supports weight loss
Compounds in green tea, such as EGCG, can promote fat breakdown because of its inhibition of certain metabolic pathways, leading to weight loss. Studies have been done to determine the benefits on green tea extract on metabolism and weight loss, such as this study on the impact of moderate exercise and green tea extract consumption, though matcha green tea is not the same as green tea extract.
Regular tea consumption has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease and this meta-analysis demonstrated that regular green tea consumption could prevent stroke. Because of matcha green tea’s nutrient and antioxidant profile similar to that of green tea, consuming matcha in combination with a heart-healthy diet can promote heart health.
Drinking Matcha 101
The fact that matcha is powdered can be intimidating for some people – the preparation is a little different than with a standard tea bag. Its taste is also quite different than what people might expect, especially if they’re used to the flavor of their strong coffee! Matcha green tea powder has a very herbaceous, earthy flavor, and is often described as “grassy.” Combining this powder with your favorite milk is one great way to enjoy your matcha, especially if you need time to adjust to the new flavor.
The most common ways to drink and prepare matcha include:
Traditional – A small amount of the sifted green tea powder is placed at the bottom of a cup and then hot water – not boiling water – is added. The best way to do this is to add a little bit of the hot water first to create a paste, and then slowly add the rest of the water in. The mixture is then mixed until smooth and frothy with a bamboo whisk. No milk or sweetener is added in this traditional method.
Matcha Coffee – If you’re really looking for that caffeine kick (and can handle it!), you can combine your frothed and whisked matcha with a shot of espresso and your favorite steamed milk.
Matcha Latte – This is one of the more popular options, which is simply preparing the matcha traditionally, as explained above, and then adding steamed milk.
Below we provide instructions for how to create a delicious coconut matcha latte! We love the flavor of coconut with the matcha, but you can choose your favorite milk.
Coconut Matcha Latte Recipe
- 1 teaspoon matcha powder
- ¾ cup coconut milk
- Optional: 1 teaspoon honey
- Gently warm milk in small pot. Do not let it boil.
- Put matcha in your favorite mug. Whisk in 1/3 cup of warm milk vigorously until powder is dissolved and beverage becomes frothy. Add honey if desired.
- Pour in the rest of the milk and whisk vigorously (be careful!).
What’s your favorite morning beverage? Are you a matcha drinker? Are you going to try it? Why or why not? Let us know by sharing your matcha lattes with us on Instagram or Facebook!