It is hard to believe there is anyone out there that hasn’t heard of Matcha yet. Matcha Green Tea rose to popularity in recent years as a healthier alternative to coffee, due to its near equal caffeine content, but still possessing all of those well-loved benefits of green tea. It is also one of the most versatile teas when it comes to making lattes, food recipes, face masks, and so much more! On top of everything, it is one of the best superfoods and can offer so many benefits to our health! Matcha Green Tea is rich in interesting history and tradition, making it an especially unique tea.
A Japanese Buddhist Monk, named Eisai, studied in China, then returned to Japan in 1191, bringing along with him tea seeds. He planted these seeds on the grounds of a temple in Kyoto. It is believed that the tea seeds that Eisai brought home from China created the highest quality tea leaves in Japan. After his return to Japan, Japanese Buddhists developed this way of cultivating the green tea plant by growing it under shaded conditions. This began the cultivation of the Tencha, which is the name of the leaves that are used to make Matcha. Because the tea was only produced in limited quantities, it became a luxury item and therefore a status symbol.
To this day, Matcha is grown on farms that are completely shaded because growing the plant in the shade increases the levels of the caffeine, chlorophyll, and amino acids, and creates a more distinct flavor. After about 20 days without direct exposure to sunlight, the plant is harvested. The steps followed to harvest the Tencha plant are:
- Grow the shade from early to mid-April.
- Harvested around early May
- Right after being picked, the leaves are put through a streaming process that prevents them from being oxidized. This allows them to retain their natural color, fragrance, and nutrition.
- After steaming, the leaves are put through an air machine to cool and dry them
- Finally, the leaves are grounded into a fine powder
During the Tang Dynasty in China, spanning from the 7th-10th centuries, people steamed tea leaves to form them into bricks for easier transportation. They were then prepared by roasting and pulverizing the leaves into a powder. Although this method began with the Tang Dynasty, the Song Dynasty, reigning from the 10th-13th centuries, popularized this form of tea preparation and therefore is often considered to be the time period when Matcha originated. (1)
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This specialized way of growing, harvesting, and preparing Matcha tea makes it one of the best tasting, high quality teas, as well as most beneficial to our health and wellness! Want to learn why? Keep reading!
1. Full of Antioxidants and Nutrients
Maybe you already know this, but Matcha is a superfood! In fact, Matcha has the highest antioxidant rating of all major superfoods, rating 1573 units of antioxidants per gram, according to The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) Test, which measures the antioxidant levels in foods. That is 10x as much as a cup of regular green tea!
Catechin are molecules that are incredibly potent with beneficial antioxidants. The main catechin in Matcha green tea is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCg, which is amazing for promoting weight loss, as well as a healthy brain and heart! Other nutrients that Matcha possesses are amino acids, L-theanine, fiber, potassium, and vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, F and P. (2)
2. Protects The Liver
Our liver is where our bodies flush out toxins, metabolism and process nutrients. Therefore, it is extremely important that we protect our livers and keep them functioning to the best of their abilities. Matcha has been shown to be able to protect and maintain liver health.
A study experimented by giving 500 mg of green tea extract or a placebo to 80 people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This study shows elevated liver enzyme levels and markers of liver damage being significantly reduced after 12 weeks. Other studies have come to similar conclusions, making Matcha a reliable resource to maintain liver health. (3)
3. Boosts Brain Functioning
Matcha has grown in popularity for being a healthier alternative to coffee, with a similar boost from the caffeine. Containing about 70 mg of caffeine (compared to coffee’s 100-140mg), Matcha offers a brain boost because of its other nutrients too! L-theanine, a compound that has been shown to increase the brain's alpha wave activity, increasing alertness and promoting relaxation and stress relief, is present in Matcha. Not only does this compound promote alertness, it alters the effect that caffeine has on our bodies, allowing it to be absorbed at a slower rate, which reduces the side effects that come from drinking caffeine.
Matcha is the perfect drink to help promote focus. It can even have a positive effect on people suffering from memory-affected diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. A study shows that after consuming 2 grams of Matcha powder a day for 2 month, older people experience improvements in overall brain function and focus. (4)
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4. Promotes Calmness
Although caffeine does not usually come with the reputation of relaxation, drinking Matcha has been shown to promote calmness. The compound L-theanine is found in high concentrations in Matcha. It works with caffeine to allow a steady release, reducing the jittery, anxiety inducing effect that caffeine often has. This welcomes an alert and focused state of mind, which for a lot of us, can be hard to come by. (5)
When operating with energy and focus, we can get rid of the confusion and cloudiness that often causes anxiety and stress. Matcha is the perfect drink to allow our brains to focus calmly and operate more mindfully day-to-day.
5. Boosts The Immune System
The presence of the catechin antioxidant EGEG in Matcha is effective at fighting against and protecting the body from bacterial and viral infections. It strengthens our immune systems and restricts the growth of viruses and bacteria. EGCG works by binding itself to cells and inhibiting growth of disease-causing microorganisms. Some of these diseases include influenza, hepatitis, herpes, and strep throat.
6. Fights Cancer Cells
Matcha contains tons of health-promoting nutrients and compounds that have been linked to the prevention of cancer and growth reduction of tumors. Matcha is extremely high in a catechin, called epigallocatechin- 3-gallate (EGCG) which has been shown to help kill off cancer cells.
Many studies have been done that show Matcha being extremely effective at fighting against cancer cells, including prostate, liver, skin, and lung cancers. This research is still in preliminary studies in relation to its effectiveness on humans, but has shown extremely promising results. (6)
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7. Promotes Heart Health
With heart disease being the leading cause of death around the world, it is crucial that we protect our heart health. Studies have shown that Matcha green tea possesses nutrients that help protect against heart disease. This research shows that these nutrients reduce levels of unwanted cholesterol and triglycerides. They also help prevent the oxidation of cholesterol that can damage our hearts. (7)
8. Encourages Weight Loss
Green tea has a reputation for being one of the best drinks for weight loss. Since Matcha is powdered green tea, the weight loss benefits are present and even more powerful!
Studies show that green tea can help speed up our metabolisms, leading to more calories burnt, and therefore more fat burnt. The compound EGCg, that is present in Matcha, increases the hormone cholecystokinin (CCK), which is responsible for making us feel full, which helps reduce overeating.
On top of this, drinking Matcha green tea will increase our bodies urine production, allowing us to remove all of the toxins from our bodies and detox from unwanted materials more quickly. The effect that Matcha has on our bodies makes it the perfect drink to help lose weight. (8)
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9. Balances Cholesterol
Matcha has proven to be amazing at improving our cholesterol levels. There are two different types of cholesterol: HDL (high-density lipoproteins) which is good cholesterol, because it goes from the rest of our bodies to our livers, which process and remove the cholesterol. LDL (lower-density lipoproteins) which is bad cholesterol because it builds up in our arteries and can lead to heart attack and strokes.
Studies show that people who regularly drink Matcha have low levels of LDL cholesterol and higher levels of HDL cholesterol. Basically, Matcha has been shown to improve and balance our bodies cholesterol levels! (9)
10. Encourages Oral Health
Bad breath can happen for a number of reasons from poor gut health, to cavities, to eating a tuna salad for lunch and not having the decency to use a little mouthwash. When it comes to bad breath, most of the time it is because of bacterial cavities, where bacteria breaks down amino acids that contain sulfur and create the bad smell.
Studies have shown, testing against gum, mints, and other foods, that green tea has the largest effect on reducing the concentration of sulfuric gases in our mouths. Concluding the drinking Matcha green tea can help control the bacteria in our mouths, leading to fresher breath. (10)
11. Promotes Glowing Skin
Matcha is amazing for the skin used both internally and externally! Being incredible for all skin types, Matcha contains a plethora of antioxidants. The catechins in Matcha deactivate the free radicals in our skin, which slows down aging and fights against acne and rosacea. EGCg is anti-inflammatory and reduces redness, brings relief to skin-irritation, and improves skin elasticity. The tannins have shown to shrink pores and reduce any over-production of oil. When used topically, Matcha is a perfect skin exfoliant to eliminate dead skin cells and reveal a rejuvenated complexion. (11)
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After reading this, doing your own Matcha research, maybe trying a few recipes, you might believe that there is no drink better than Matcha tea… Well somehow we found a way to make it better with our limited edition Rose Matcha Green Tea that we just launched in collaboration with Sundae School! Double the health benefits, double the beauty, double the experience, and double the deliciousness!!!! Try it while it’s still available and let us know what you think! And if you’re lost when it comes to preparing Matcha, check out our Matcha Prep 101 blog!