What is matcha green tea?
Recently, matcha green tea has started to pop up everywhere. Matcha (pronounced MA-cha) is basically the superhero upgrade of green tea, which was already pretty super itself. In fact, it’s one of the most potent superfoods that exists.
Matcha is from Japan and has been part of its culture for centuries – it’s still their most popular and prized drink, with the Japanese tea ceremony being centred around it. It’s a 100% premium green tea, but the way in which it differs from regular green tea is in the way the leaves are produced. The pure, high grade leaves are kept under shade for up to three weeks to increase the chlorophyll content (which gives it a higher concentration of antioxidants and nutrients), before being handpicked, steamed, dried and then ground into a fine vibrant green powder. It’s the only form of tea that uses the whole leaf and is far less processed.
The main reason people love matcha is for its energy, it truly is the ultimate energy drink. If you wanted to give coffee a break, matcha is the perfect swap. It gives you a much better caffeine high as it releases caffeine slowly into the blood stream, giving you a sustained boost for 3-4 hours, unlike coffee which can give you a high and a low after the blood sugar drops. Matcha is both energizing and calming, thanks to presence of L-theanine (an amino acid with relaxing properties), which counterbalances the jittery effects of caffeine. The combined result is an overwhelming feeling of alert yet calm focus and improved mental alertness and mood. Zen Buddhist monks have drank matcha for over 1000 years thanks to its natural energy boost.
There’s also an abundance of health boosting benefit claims. Matcha contains 135 times more antioxidants than regular green tea, and is high in amino acids (specifically L-theanine) and chlorophyll. It has many nutritional benefits in a highly concentrated form. There are studies that have found matcha linked to prevention of cancer and diseases, anti-ageing, a stronger immune system, healthier teeth and gums, and even improving skin and hair. It’s even good for your tummy. Also, the level of chlorophyll in the leaves makes it an amazing detoxifier, removing heavy metals and nasty chemicals trapped in the body. It makes for an excellent hangover cure, replenishing the phytonutrients needed for next-day alcohol recovery.
Matcha seriously helps boosts your metabolism too. A study found that consuming matcha tea increased the body’s rate of burning calories from 8-10% to 35-43% of daily energy expenditure. Drinking matcha immediately before working out led to 25% more fat being burned during exercise.
Matcha has an earthy, vegetal taste with a slightly sweet aftertaste, not too dissimilar to regular green tea (although it might take some people a little while to get used to as it might perhaps taste a little bitter and strange at first). It’s pretty easy to make, simply scoop half a teaspoon of the sifted tea into your mug, add hot water, and whisk (a hand electric frother is easiest, or for perfect preparation you could use a Chasen - the traditional Japanese bamboo tea whisk). The wonderful thing about matcha is that is it super versatile due to its powder form. You could have it hot or cold as tea, whipped into lattes, or mixed in with with fruit juice, smoothies or cocktails. It can even be dusted on top of savory food and added in sweets like macarons, cakes and doughnuts, or if you’re going the other way, it can be used as part of a detox.
When buying, avoid tea bags and buy the powder form. Also, always buy the Japanese grade. You don’t have to spend a fortune on it either, we started out with Vitalife’s Beginner’s Grade, which you can buy here on Amazon.