The Benefits of Matcha Tea
If you’re looking for easy, natural ways to boost your energy levels, improve your mental clarity, and increase your ability to focus, you may have read about matcha tea as an alternative to coffee.
Drinking matcha tea can provide all of the same benefits as coffee without the caffeine crashes many people experience when drinking coffee to stay alert. On top of providing a cleaner, more long-lasting energy boost, matcha tea powder can enhance many other elements of human health.
Let’s explore the basics of matcha tea: what it is, where it came from, how to prepare matcha tea, and the array of health benefits that drinking matcha tea offers.
What Is Matcha Tea?
Matcha is a type of green tea, but it differs from traditional green tea in a couple of ways. For one, traditional green tea is made by infusing tea leaves in hot water, then discarding the leaves once the tea has reached the desired strength.
With matcha tea, the leaves have been ground into a fine powder, which is then mixed into hot water until it creates a frothy green liquid. Instead of drinking leaf-infused water, individuals who have a cup of matcha are drinking the leaves. In fact, the word “matcha” combines the Japanese characters for “ground” and “tea”, meaning that its name is actually “ground tea.”
So, while all matcha is a type of green tea, not all green teas are matcha tea.
From the way the product is grown to the way that it’s harvested and produced, it differs from traditional green tea. Matcha leaves are grown under shade cloths, rather than in the sun. These leaves are also briefly steamed, then dried and aged to give them a texture and flavor that separates them from standard green tea leaves.
Brief History of Matcha Tea
Matcha has been around for hundreds of years, and histories mention this type of tea being grown and consumed as far back as the 7th century, during the Tang Dynasty in China. However, this tea preparation method was not so much used to enhance the taste of green tea leaves, but to make transporting and trading the product easier.
In this time period, matcha tea leaves were steamed and formed into tea bricks, which were then roasted and pulverized so that they could be mixed with water.
Later, the Song Dynasty made matcha preparation more popular across China from the 10th to 13th centuries.
Not long afterward, a Japanese monk came across matcha tea during his time studying Buddhism in China and brought both seeds and the practice of producing matcha with him when he returned to Japan.
From there, the monk and other Zen Buddhists continued to perfect their tea-growing methods to create the highest quality matcha.
However, during the Kamakura period when a feudal military government known as the Kamakura Shogunate ruled Japan, matcha became somewhat of a luxury item being that it was not produced in significant quantities.
How To Make Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is relatively easy to make, but for the best results, it’s a good idea to follow guidelines closely.
- Place ½ a teaspoon of matcha tea powder into a cup
- Add about ¼ cup of hot, but not yet boiling water
- If you’d like a larger serving, use 1 teaspoon of matcha for ½ a cup of water.
- Use a (warmed, softened) tea whisk to stir the matcha powder into the water, making slow back and forth movements until the powder is combined with the water.
- Stir faster until the mixture becomes frothy.
If your tea tastes bitter, the water used was too hot. If the powder is hard to mix, the water used was too cold. Matcha-to-water ratios may need some adjustment to fit your individual taste preferences.
In addition to making warm matcha tea, the powder can be used to make an array of different matcha tea lattes, which can be sweetened or mixed with other flavors to enhance the taste.
For example, coconut lattes with matcha or chai & matcha tea lattes can be made in much the same way as a standard cup of matcha tea. However, to create a unique blend of flavors, chai spices, various sweetening agents (honey, sugar, agave, syrup), and your choice of milk can be combined with frothy matcha tea and drank warm or over ice.
Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is often said to be beneficial for overall health and wellness, but what benefits does it actually provide? To answer that question, it’s important to look at the different body systems and the way that matcha tea affects their function.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the ways a simple cup of matcha tea can be used to improve an individual’s quality of life.
Drinking a cup of matcha tea regularly may help improve brain function, thanks to the caffeine content therein. Unlike coffee, matcha tea contains a concentrated amount of caffeine that is slowly absorbed by the body. As such, the benefits provided by caffeine consumption last longer and do not result in a heavy caffeine crash.
Matcha tea has been shown to improve an individual’s attention span, memory, energy levels, and reaction time. On top of that, drinking matcha tea can decrease stress levels in the brain, which allows an individual to remain focused without becoming anxious or jittery.
The antioxidants found in matcha tea are beneficial in maintaining heart health. These antioxidants aid in preventing strokes, heart attacks, and heart disease due to their anti-inflammatory and anti-hypertensive properties.
Additionally, the antioxidants in matcha tea can also reduce “bad” cholesterol and lower lipid levels, which helps keep veins and arteries healthy, and keeps blood pressure at an ideal level.
Matcha tea can be a valuable addition to supporting the health of one’s liver, as it helps the body flush out toxins, which reduces strain placed on the liver. Teas, in general, are a natural diuretic, but the added nutritional benefits of matcha tea in particular can aid the body in targeting toxins for removal rather than simply helping eliminate fluid.
A study conducted on individuals with fatty liver disease resulted in a noted reduction in liver enzyme (enzymes that show liver damage) levels after having taken 500mg of green tea extract each day for a 90-day period.
Matcha tea can be useful in helping individuals manage their weight, being that matcha provides several key benefits that related to energy levels and hunger cues.
Drinking a cup of matcha tea can speed up an individual’s metabolism and increase their energy levels so that they’re better able to burn fat.
In addition, matcha tea can help drinkers curb their hunger, making it easier to reduce mindless snacking throughout the day.
Incorporating matcha tea into one’s diet can also help increase longevity and overall quality of life due to its high antioxidant levels. Matcha can improve immune function by increasing the T cells present in the body. It also contains the antioxidant known as ECGC, which may prevent cancer, help shrink tumors, and kill cancer cells according to studies performed.
The anti-inflammatory properties of matcha tea can also reduce inflammation in the body, which may help reduce the severity of inflammatory disorders like arthritis.
Because matcha is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory qualities, it can help eliminate free radicals that damage a person’s skin cells. Whether matcha tea is consumed through digestion or placed on the skin topically, it can cool and soothe inflamed skin and reduce the appearance of acne, rosacea, excessive oil, or exceptionally dry skin.
Matcha is also a natural product, so using it as a skincare aid is less likely to cause irritation or other skin issues like some of the more chemically intense skin treatments on the market today.
Though matcha tea should not be used as a replacement for medical care or established treatment methods provided by an individual’s doctor, drinking a cup of matcha tea is a great way to supplement standard care maintenance, boost energy naturally, and improve an individual’s overall wellbeing.
Matcha Tea FAQ
Do you have questions about matcha tea? Plenty of people do when they’re researching the health benefits they’re hoping to improve. Below, we have provided answers to some of the questions we receive most often about matcha tea.
What’s the difference between matcha and traditional green tea?
Matcha is a type of green tea that’s composed of ground-up powder. It’s considered to be more potent than traditional green tea. The method of consuming matcha is also a bit different than that of green tea. With green tea, an individual steeps the leaves in a cup of hot water, but matcha is made by mixing matcha powder into water.
What does matcha taste like?
Depending on the quality of the matcha a person is consuming, and the method they use to prepare it, matcha should have a subtle sweetness, a mild nuttiness, grassy notes, and a very slightly bitter undertone. Low quality or poorly prepared matcha tends to be far more bitter, to the point of being unpleasant.
Does matcha tea have caffeine?
Yes, matcha tea contains caffeine, but matcha tea contains less caffeine than a cup of black coffee. Additionally, the caffeine that’s in matcha tea tends to absorb into the body at a lower rate than the caffeine present in coffee.
Is matcha powder healthy?
Matcha powder has been shown to provide a number of health benefits to people who consume it. It’s rich in antioxidants compared to other teas, and it’s helpful in naturally increasing energy levels and improving mental clarity. Unlike coffee, the energy boost provided by matcha tea does not result in heavy caffeine “crashes” later in the day.
Are there any health concerns surrounding matcha?
Buying a high-quality brand of matcha powder can help ensure that the product is safe to consume. A respectable brand will test its products to assure customers that the powder is free from pesticide contamination, lead, or radioactive materials.
How often can I drink matcha?
It’s safe to drink matcha tea every day so long as an individual does not have a health condition that makes them sensitive to caffeine. It’s recommended to not drink more than five servings of matcha per day, and 1-2 servings per day is more than enough to provide all the health benefits the product offers.
To take advantage of the health benefits of matcha tea, it’s important to shop for high-quality products. Doing so helps ensure that you’re going to receive powder that has a pleasant taste made with pure ingredients.
Again, getting the correct water-to-powder ratio is going to take some experimentation, but once you’ve determined the strength of your flavor preference and the amount you’re going to be able to drink, it should become quite easy to make a quick cup of matcha tea any time of the day.
Start small, with only one cup in a day to gauge how you feel afterward. While a cup too many of matcha isn’t dangerous, it might upset your stomach until you’re more accustomed to drinking matcha tea.