Superfood Science®, a supplement brand by Atlas World USA, Inc.

Matcha: Benefits and Uses of the Ceremonial Japanese Drink

 

If you’ve stepped into a cafe, browsed social media, or even walked into a grocery store recently, you may have seen the fun green drink that many have been drinking lately.

What is it? Matcha, a powerful tea native to Japan.

What is Matcha?

Matcha isn’t your ordinary green tea with its vibrant color and unique and delicious flavor. Skyrocketing in popularity lately, matcha can be incorporated in many foods and drink items such as lattes, teas, bread, and even desserts. But what makes it special?

Studies surrounding matcha and its components have pointed towards a variety of benefits, showing that it can help protect the liver, promote heart health, and even help with weight loss. With so many potential benefits, it’s no wonder why matcha became popular.

But unlike traditional green tea, preparing matcha involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before harvesting [1]. This boosts both the flavor and texture, as the leaves’ growth also increases with this process. The leaves are hand-picked, steamed momentarily to halt fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, deepening the flavor.

How is Matcha Made?

Matcha means “powdered tea.” While it can be consumed in loose leaf tea form, the best way to consume matcha is by grinding it into a powder. When the leaves have been finely ground and made into a powder, you retain more antioxidants than in loose-leaf form.

Similar to green tea, matcha comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. What separates the two is how they’re grown and cultivated [2].

To avoid direct sunlight, farmers cultivate matcha by covering their tea plants 20–30 days before harvest. This way, chlorophyll production increases, boosting the amino acid content giving the plant a darker green hue (which gives matcha that lovely vibrant color).

So how is it made? Typically, matcha is made by mixing about a teaspoon of matcha powder with around a third cup of hot water (heated to less than a boil). Then a bamboo brush is used to whisk it until it froths. You can add milk or sweeteners as well.

Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a more potent source of nutrients than steeped green tea because it is made from high-quality well-harvested tea, in which the whole leaves are consumed.

Packed with antioxidants

Not only does it provide you with vitamins and minerals, but matcha is also rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been linked to promoting heart and cellular health.

Polyphenols can also improve blood sugar regulation and blood pressure and promote healthy aging [3]. These antioxidants can work to stabilize harmful free radicals in your body, which are compounds that can damage cells and lead to chronic disease.

EGCG, another polyphenol in matcha, has been shown to boost metabolism and slow the growth of unhealthy mutated cells [4].

So, when you add matcha to your diet, it can potentially increase your antioxidant intake, helping your body prevent cell damage and even aiding in lowering your risk of developing a chronic disease.

Another benefit of matcha is that it helps protect the health of your liver. Your liver is vital to your health, and it plays a central role in flushing out toxins, metabolizing drugs, and processing nutrients. The antioxidants can also reduce liver enzyme levels (elevated levels are markers of liver damage) and decrease liver disease risk [5].

Enhancing brain function

Drinking matcha can also help to enhance brain function due to its different components—mainly caffeine. It causes improvements in memory, attention, and reaction time.

Matcha also contains a compound called L-theanine, which alters caffeine's effects, promoting alertness without the crash in energy levels that can follow caffeine consumption. This makes matcha an excellent option for people who want enhanced focus, but don’t want to experience a caffeine high or crash.

L-theanine has also been proven to intensify alpha wave activity in the brain, which may induce relaxation and lower stress levels [6].

Heart-happy food

While heart disease is the number one cause of death worldwide, responsible for an estimated one-third of all deaths in people over 35, some studies have shown that consuming matcha may help protect against heart disease [7]. Several studies have shown the benefits of matcha’s ability to decrease levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Another factor that may protect you against heart disease is preventing the oxidation of the said LDL cholesterol. This is because matcha is an anti-inflammatory drink due to its properties. [8].

Peaceful preparation

There is more to making matcha than just pouring in the ingredients. The making of matcha dates back thousands of years, being the focus of Japanese tea ceremonies. If you follow some ancient Japanese traditional practices, then making this drink should also help you de-stress.

In fact, preparing and sipping matcha can become a method for you to slow down and be in the moment. Its benefits will extend far beyond the antioxidants it provides. This meditative ceremony has countless rewards, including the reduction of cortisol, which is a stress hormone known to drive appetite and increase belly fat; lower inflammation, which is a known trigger of premature aging and disease; curb compulsive eating, lower blood pressure, and boost self-esteem and compassion [9].

With the benefits provided by matcha, it’s not surprising that it has become trendy recently. But, is there a limit on how much matcha you can consume in a day?

How much matcha should you drink daily?

The maximum acceptable consumption of matcha powder is uncertain and varies depending on the individual. To be safe, make sure to consume matcha in moderation. The best way is to stick to 1–2 cups per day and look for certified organic ones to take advantage of matcha’s many health benefits without risking exposure to pesticide residue or fake artificial matcha.

Best of all, it is effortless to prepare, so you can add it easily into your diet and give your day a burst of extra flavor and vibrance. If you’re looking to give matcha a try, we highly recommend Superfood Science’s Organic Japanese Ceremonial Grade Matcha Tea.

 

Our Summer Iced Matcha Latte Recipe

If you want to give matcha a try, we recommend this iced matcha latte recipe. It’s the perfect refresher for a summer afternoon.

Ingredients:

1 ½ tsp ceremonial grade matcha powder

1 tbsp hot water

¾ cup hot milk

2 tbsp honey or maple syrup

Dash of cinnamon

 

Directions:

  1. Sift the matcha powder in a cup, while the water heats up.
  2. Once the water is warm (not too hot) add it to the powder and whisk together until consistent.
  3. Stir in the honey
  4. Grab your favorite glass and add some ice to it. Top with milk of choice.
  5. Lastly, top with cinnamon, and enjoy!

Are you going to give this matcha recipe a try?

 

References

[1]https://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/green-tea-vs-matcha-how-do-they-compare/

[2]http://news.meyerdc.com/chiropractors/history-matcha-tea/

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7796401/

[4] Siddiqui, I. A., Asim, M., Hafeez, B. B., Adhami, V. M., Tarapore, R. S., & Mukhtar, H. (2011). Green tea polyphenol EGCG blunts androgen receptor function in prostate cancer. The FASEB Journal, 25(4), 1198-1207.

[5]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7231151/

[6]https://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/News/Promotional-Features/Alphawave-L-theanine-supports-alpha-brainwave-activity-the-source-of-wakeful-relaxation

[7] Sugita, M., Kapoor, M. P., Nishimura, A., & Okubo, T. (2016). Influence of green tea catechins on oxidative stress metabolites at rest and during exercise in healthy humans. Nutrition, 32(3), 321-331.

[8] Zeka, K., Ruparelia, K., Arroo, R. R., Budriesi, R., & Micucci, M. (2017). Flavonoids and their metabolites: prevention in cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. Diseases, 5(3), 19.

[9] https://www.nccih.nih.gov/health/meditation-in-depth