Matcha has rapidly become the latest superfood.
It is a specific type of green tea touted to have even more health benefits than antioxidant-rich green tea.
In this article, we will discuss what Matcha tea is, Matcha benefits, and a couple of awesome Matcha tea recipes you can try if you want to elevate your morning cup of tea or swap your coffee for something new.
We will cover:
- What Is Matcha Tea?
- The Health Benefits of Matcha Tea: 6 Matcha Benefits
- How to Prepare Matcha Tea
- Can You Drink Too Much Matcha Tea?
Let’s get started!
What Is Matcha Tea?
In certain countries, such as the United States, many people start their morning with a cup of coffee rather than a cup of tea. However, on a global level, green tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world and part of the daily ritual for millions of people.
Green tea is known to provide quite a number of health benefits, including improving heart health, reducing oxidative damage, potentially preventing aging, and reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Matcha is a specific variety of green tea, said to be even healthier than most other types of green tea.
Both Matcha green tea and regular green tea are derived from a plant native to China with the scientific name Camellia sinensis.
However, Matcha green tea is grown and prepared in a unique way compared to other green teas.When growing the tea leaves to make Matcha, the tea bushes are covered for 20–30 days before harvest so that they cannot receive sunlight. This induces a compensatory rise in chlorophyll levels, causing the tea leaves to produce higher levels of amino acids and turn a darker shade of green.
With Matcha tea, the entire tea leaf is consumed rather than only the actual leaves.
The stems and veins are stripped from the leaves after harvesting and then ground by stone into a fine powder with the leaves. This bright green fine powder end product is matcha tea.
With regular tea leaves, to prepare a cup of tea, you soak the tea leaves in hot water, whereas with Matcha tea, you add the powder and stir it into the hot water to prepare your cup of tea.
The two points in the growing and preparation process in which Matcha tea deviates from regular green tea—shading the leaves for 20 to 30 days before preparation and stone-grinding the entire leaf to prepare the tea— are what impart the unique additional benefits of Matcha tea over regular green tea.
Matcha can be thought of as a more concentrated green tea because the stems and leaves add additional antioxidants and caffeine, and shielding the plants from sunlight increases the production of some of the beneficial health compounds in the tea leaves.
Although different Matcha powders will contain different amounts of caffeine and antioxidants based on the specific growing, harvesting, and preparation conditions, a typical 2–3-ounce serving made from 1/2–1 teaspoon of regular matcha powder usually contains approximately 70 mg of caffeine.
A cup (237 mL) of regular green tea only contains about 35 mg of caffeine, so a serving of Matcha is about twice as caffeinated as green tea, and the usual serving size is much less.
Of course, the caffeine content of Matcha tea will depend on how much powder you add, and the caffeine content of regular green tea is affected by how long you steep the tea, but the general trend is that Matcha tea is significantly more caffeinated than regular green tea.
Compared to the mild flavor of green tea, matcha tea has a notably bitter and grassy taste, so it is often served with milk or a sweetener to make it more palatable, although some people enjoy the natural flavor.
Other popular applications of Matcha powder are to add it into smoothies, oatmeal, or baking recipes. It is even added to some protein bars, “healthy“ natural snack foods, and mochi.
The Health Benefits of Matcha Tea: 6 Matcha Benefits
As a type of green tea, the benefits of matcha tea aren’t all that different, but the potency of matcha tea compared with regular green tea confers a greater magnitude of the benefits.
Here are some of the top health matcha benefits:
#1: Matcha Tea Is Packed With Antioxidants
Antioxidants are beneficial compounds known to be free radical scavengers in the body. Free radicals are reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative damage to cells and tissues, manifesting in skin wrinkles, premature aging, and other cellular damage on an internal level we cannot readily see.
Matcha is an extremely rich source of lots of antioxidants, but catechins in particular.
A catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is found in both green tea and Matcha, has been found to confer all sorts of health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, improving heart and blood vessel health, and preventing premature cellular aging.
As a very concentrated green tea due to the entire leaf being consumed and the different growing process, matcha tea is said to contain about three times as many antioxidants as steeping regular green tea, though some studies show this difference might be as much as ten-fold.
The longer the Matcha tea is grown before harvest, the greater the concentration of healthy compounds.
#2: Matcha Tea May Reduce the Kidney and Liver Damage
Animal studies suggest that matcha tea may reduce, and even reverse, kidney and liver damage associated with type 2 diabetes.
#3: Matcha Tea May Improve Heart Health
One of the benefits of many of the antioxidants and polyphenols found in Matcha tea is that these compounds can improve arterial and heart health, lower blood pressure, decrease inflammation, improve epithelial function, reduce blood lipids, and lower cholesterol, all of which are otherwise risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Studies have found that people who regularly drink green tea might have upwards of a 31% lower risk of heart disease compared to non-tea drinkers.
#4: Matcha Tea May Promote Weight Loss
Green tea and Matcha have been shown to boost metabolic rate and promote fat burning.
Studies have also demonstrated the ability of green tea to promote fat loss, particularly in the abdominal area, even in the absence of maintaining a significant calorie deficit.
Although the healthiest and most effective way to lose weight typically involves following a nutritious, calorie-controlled diet and getting regular physical activity, adding matcha tea to your weight loss plan may accelerate your results.
#5: Matcha Tea May Reduce the Risk of Cancer
The antioxidants in green can prevent some of the cellular damage that can lead to certain cancers. Green tea consumption has been associated with reducing the risk of breast, bladder, stomach, ovarian, lung, colorectal, skin, prostate, and esophageal cancers.
#6: Matcha Tea Can Boost Brain Function
Matcha tea naturally contains caffeine, which can increase attentiveness, alertness, and cognitive performance and decrease reaction time.
These brain-stimulating effects of caffeine occur because caffeine blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter known as adenosine, effectively increasing firing rates between neurotransmitters and increasing the concentration of dopamine and other neurotransmitters.
Matcha tea also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that further increases dopamine levels and works synergistically with caffeine to improve brain function.
Studies have found that matcha tea can improve attention, reaction time, and memory.
How to Prepare Matcha Tea
As mentioned, to prepare a cup of Matcha tea, you actually add matcha tea powder to hot water rather than soaking tea leaves.
In the traditional Japanese method, the Matcha tea powder is measured with a shashaku, which is a type of bamboo spoon, and then it is added to a chawan, which is a heated tea bowl.
Then, hot water (about 158°F or 70°C) is carefully added to the bowl over the powder.
A special bamboo whisk is used to vigorously stir the tea until it is fully blended with a soft froth head.
Of course, you don’t actually need any of this special equipment to prepare a cup of matcha tea for yourself. You can just use a regular teaspoon and teacup to measure and stir your matcha. A small whisk will be helpful as well, but even a regular teaspoon will suffice. Otherwise, a little matcha-making kit can be nice.
You can also adjust the consistency and strength of your matcha tea.
Typically, one teaspoon of matcha powder is added to 2 ounces (59 mL) of hot water for a sort of standard consistency.
Usucha refers to a thin matcha consistency. This can be a good option for people who are trying to adjust to the more pungent taste of matcha tea.
To prepare usucha, mix 1/2 teaspoon of matcha powder into 3–4 ounces (89–118 mL) of hot water.
Koicha is Matcha tea deliberately made to have a thick consistency. Here, 2 teaspoons of matcha powder are used per 1 ounce (30 mL) of hot water. Because the tea is so thick, there is no foam on top.
Can You Drink Too Much Matcha Tea?
It is important to note that too much of a good thing can be counterproductive for your health. Most health experts say that you should not consume more than 2 cups (474 mL) of Matcha per day, especially if you are not drinking organic Matcha.
Conventionally grown tea leaves will have pesticides and may contain other contaminants from the soil, which can be harmful in high doses. Therefore, buying organic Matcha powder is better for your health and safety.
Furthermore, because Matcha tea is so concentrated, you really don’t need a ton of it to reap the health benefits, and drinking too much can cause nausea or symptoms of liver or kidney toxicity in some individuals.
This certainly shouldn’t scare you off from drinking Matcha tea—there are tons of Matcha benefits—just keep your daily limit to two cups.
If you want to switch gears a bit, we also have a recipe for bulletproof coffee for you to check out!