The rich antioxidants present in matcha tea help provide free radical scavenging activity, and stronger immune defense. Polyphenols and catechin-rich matcha promotes relaxation and contributes beneficially to the prevention and treatment of various medical conditions. Matcha tea also assists in maintaining cardiovascular health and works as a superb energy booster.
What is Matcha?
Matcha or maccha is a finely ground, bright emerald-green tea powder with the scientific name Camellia sinensis. It is prepared from a high-quality shade-grown leaf known as tencha. The tea bushes are sheltered to avoid the exposure of direct sunlight which reduces the pace of photosynthesis and slows down the growth of plants. This provides the leaves with a darker shade of green and stimulates the production of chlorophyll and amino acids.
Watch Video: 4 Surprising Benefits Of Matcha Tea
How Is Matcha Harvested?
- Harvesting of matcha is done by hand to ensure the selection of youngest, and smallest leaves for the finest quality tea.
- Unlike other green teas, leaves used for this tea are briefly steamed to protect them from oxidation and preserve its flavor and nutritional content.
- This is followed by ultra-fine milling of the tencha leaves by using granite stone mills resulting in a beautiful green powder which is the raw material for this tea. This is called matcha green tea powder.
History Of Matcha Tea
It is a natural, organic green tea which has been the heart of the famous Japanese tea ceremony for over 900 years. The Buddhist monks honored matcha tea as the health elixir for its potential to heighten the concentration and enhance metabolism.
Thought to originate in China in the 9th century, this was used for curing various ailments. It was only after the Zen Buddhist monks from Japan realized its true potential at the end of the twelfth century, the perfection in the cultivation of these leaves picked up. Matcha is still scarcely grown, accounting for just 0.6% of total tea yield.
According to a popular adage, there is special etiquette which is followed in Japan while drinking this tea: if you drink matcha with your back straight, the pleasure of the experience would double. So, sit straight and sip it right!
Matcha is a time-honored beverage and a source of essential nutrients.
- It is rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, and B-complex vitamins.
- This tea contains trace minerals including selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium.
- It is rich in components with antioxidant activity including polyphenols, catechins, and chlorophyll.
- Matcha tea contains a high level of dietary fiber.
- The presence of amino acids such as L-theanine and theophylline in the matcha tea makes it a multi nutrient-packed drink.
- This matcha tea powder has 137 times more antioxidants than regular green tea!
Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
The important health benefits of matcha tea have been listed below.
According to Dr. Art T Dash’s book, “Secrets to Lowering Cholesterol with Nutrition and Natural Supplements, matcha tea works wonderfully in providing a calming effect on the body. L-theanine, a unique amino acid present in this green tea, possesses anti-anxiolytic properties, which assists in boosting alpha waves in the brain. These alpha waves enhance mood, encourage relaxation, induce a profound feeling of mental clarity, and help achieve an alert state of mind.
Rich Source of Antioxidants
Matcha tea has antioxidants such as catechins – EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). A study published in the Journal of Chromatography A assessed the antioxidant power of this tea. Furthermore, it revealed that as compared to other green teas matcha has the highest amount of EGCG. These antioxidants seek out for the oxygen free radicals and neutralize their harmful effects. Thus, this helps in protecting the body from the occurrence of disorders or inflammations associated with oxidative stress.
According to some research, matcha tea may have some anti-cancer potential. It has a therapeutic effect on the body by “mediating the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells,” according to a study in the journal Aging.
A number of studies have shown that polyphenols present in this tea prevent the proliferation of malignant cancerous cells, and promotes induction of apoptosis.
Matcha tea powder contains a unique form of caffeine known as theophylline, which sustains the energy levels without any adverse effects (unlike energy drinks or sodas, which can make you crash). The slow release of energy due to theophylline helps in supporting the functionality of adrenal glands. It also maintains optimum hormonal levels.
Prevents Eye Disorders
Consumption of matcha leads to the absorption of catechin in the tissues of the eye, which can help prevent blindness caused by cataracts. It also boosts vision and may help prevent eye disorders, such as glaucoma.
Catechins present in matcha, which is a high level, has shown positive impacts on a reduction in body fat. leads to a reduction in body fat. It also helps boost metabolism which further leads to a decrease in body fat mass.
A study published in Trends in Food Science & Technology suggests that theanine found in matcha tea acts as a neurotransmitter. It exerts a calming effect on the brain without causing any drowsiness. This soothing effect helped the Buddhist monks in maintaining deep concentration during their meditation sessions and was the main reason behind its popularity.
Another study published in Biological Psychology reveals the possible anti-stress effects of theanine present in this tea, which assists in reducing the physiological and psychological stress responses by inhibiting the neuron excitation. This tea is also believed to boost memory and concentration.
Protects from Infections
Matcha tea rich in EGCG helps fight various bacterial, viral, and fungal infections. According to a 2013 research study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology EGCG binds to the lipid membrane and exerts inhibitory action against the growth of various human pathogens. These include influenza A virus, hepatitis B, and C virus, herpes virus, adenovirus Staphylococcus aureus bacteria, and Candida albicans yeast. While the exact mechanism of this action is unknown, it does show that matcha may be a great addition to protect against various infections.
Prevents Renal Damage
One research study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food conducted a test on diabetic subjects, where they were administered with matcha tea extracts. The study showed how matcha tea helps to prevent renal and hepatic damage. It is thought to be effective at restraining the accumulation of advanced glycation end products in the kidneys. Green tea extracts also helped to treat non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and may be considered as an ancillary treatment for this disease state.
Controls Type-2 Diabetes
Matcha tea is beneficial for those suffering from type-2 diabetes. In the same study as mentioned related to renal disease, above, it helps in maintaining a healthy metabolism by lowering blood sugar levels. This antioxidant-rich tea also reduced the levels of triglycerides, cholesterol, and hepatic glucose content in this research. While more studies are needed to bolster these anti-diabetes outcomes, preliminary findings are positive in its favor.
Strengthens the Immune System
Matcha contains various antioxidants, polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate, and L-theanine. All of these collectively contribute towards boosting the immune system and protecting against various antigens.
Improves Cardiovascular Health
EGCG present in this tea may help to lower cholesterol levels thereby maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system. A study conducted by researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, USA, has suggested that EGCG also helps in reducing the accumulation of lipids and promotes autophagy in the vascular endothelial cells.
Matcha is a healthy green tea with multi-dimensional benefits, but consuming it in excess may lead to the following:
- Caffeine content: Matcha green tea powder contains some caffeine, which may trigger reactions. These reactions may include diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, and irritable bowel syndrome. If you are new to matcha and are unaware of its sensitivities, then it is always advisable to ensure natural vigilance while trying it for the first time.
- Lead: Matcha plant can absorb lead from the soil. Even organic matcha may contain some amount of lead. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid excess intake of this tea.
- During Pregnancy and Lactation: Prior to considering matcha tea for therapeutic purposes, an expert medical opinion would always help to better understand its effects especially during special conditions such as pregnancy and lactation.
Apart from healthy gains, matcha is widely popular as an ingredient in a range of food items. It is used to add flavor to a variety of confectionery items and drinks like:
- Green tea ice-creams
- Alcoholic beverages