Normally, when you make green tea you soak the leaves in hot (not boiling) water, but then you remove the leaves before drinking the tea. You get many incredible health benefits, but what if you could magnify these effects?
Matcha green tea benefits are exactly that, a concentrated green tea. That’s because Matcha is the same plant as your normal green tea, but it is grown and processed slightly differently.
The camellia sinensis plant is covered to shade it from the sun for the last 20-30 days before harvesting. By blocking direct sunlight the chlorophyll levels in the leaves increase, and the leaves develop important amino acids and darken in colour.
When picked, the stems and veins of the leaf are moved and then it is ground into a vividly green powder. You use this powder to create this powerful, healing drink, and you actually consume the entire leaf.
How to Brew Matcha Green Tea
To make your standard matcha green tea add 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to your cup (a warm mug works best), then add 2 oz. of hot water 70-80° C. Use a bamboo whisk (a chasen) or a milk frother to mix the powder and water until you have a nice frothy top layer. Enjoy!
Matcha Green Tea Benefits
Matcha has more caffeine than your regularly brewed green tea. It has about the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, though the effect is different. Matcha tea is described to provide a more calm alertness. This is because matcha is a great source of l-theanine, which has a soothing, relaxing effect without making you drowsy.
L-theanine increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels in the brain, but it also works as a relaxing agent, making it a unique combination. Studies have also shown l-theanine to improve your ability to learn and remember.
The relaxing effect of matcha green tea benefits you more than you may know. Caffeine from coffee can be harsh, leaving you buzzing, and eventually crashing. Matcha has been shown to have a very different result. It gives you the alertness and energy from coffee, but it is also calming and helps with focus. Because of this, matcha green tea could be a better drink choice for most individuals.
Matcha Green Tea and Catechin
Catechin is a polyphenol that has many health benefits. The most powerful catechin is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which is great because green tea is the best source of EGCG around. It has many protective neurological effects. In fact, catechin can reduce the development of dementia. Since the leaves of camellia sinensis are such a good source of this catechin, you’re going to get even more of this powerful polyphenol from matcha.
The catechins in matcha green tea are also powerful for weight loss. It boosts fat oxidation and energy expenditure. That means it breaks down the stored fat (energy) in the body into usable energy.
Fat oxidation normally happens during exercise as a way to fuel the body, but matcha green tea has the same effect, allowing you to burn fat without working out (though there are still many important benefits to being active, so don’t use matcha green tea as an exercise substitute).
But how much fat can matcha green tea actually burn?
Well, studies have found it can increase fat oxidation by 17%. These are significant results. Matcha green tea alone can be enough to induce weight loss, so adding it to a healthy diet and an active lifestyle, you’ll be able to burn fat faster than ever.
This increase in lipid (fat) metabolism has many other positive implications. Both LDL-cholesterol and blood glucose levels significantly lower as a result of catechins. This can lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease. On that same note, it can also reduce oxidative stress caused by high levels of fat consumption, making it a perfect drink for people on low-carb high-fat diets.
Matcha Green Tea and Cancer
The catechins in green tea—EGCG, EGC, ECG, and EC all have antioxidant properties to them. They can significantly reduce the number of free radicals in the body, protecting cells from DNA damage. According to the National Cancer Institute, this can help reduce cancer cell proliferation and tumour cell invasiveness.
Matcha Green Tea Health Concerns
Because you are ingesting the entire leaf when you drink matcha, it is significantly more potent, so you shouldn’t have more that 2 cups per day. Also, by ingesting the leaf, you’re ingesting any chemicals or toxins that may be in the leaf. That’s why it is better to go with an organic matcha powder to minimize the number of heavy metals and pesticides you’re exposed to.
That being said, the catechins in matcha green tea are so beneficial you can’t pass it up. So next time you need a caffeine fix, reach for the green powder and drink to good health.