Matcha green tea is one of those “health fads” that we are hearing and reading more and more about over the last year or so. We finally got ourselves some to test out and see just what all the fuss is about..
What is Matcha…
Matcha green tea is essentially the finest green tea leaves handpicked and stone ground into a vibrant green powder.
The green tea leaves are grown slowly in shaded tea plantations in Japan. The process of shading in the final months before harvest – unique to only matcha green tea – promotes the plants to produce extremely high levels of chlorophyll within the leaves. The fresh leaves are then handpicked and very briefly steamed to preserve their nutritional properties and taste and then rapidly milled by granite stone mills into an ultra fine, jade green powder.
With matcha green tea you are consuming the whole tea leaf suspended in water (as opposed to water flavoured from tea leaves). As a result matcha is a powerhouse of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Matcha Green Tea has been used for centuries by Zen monks and is known in Buddhism for its ability to enhance concentration and boost the metabolism. It is referred to among monks as the “elixir” of good health.
Over the next few months Liana and I are going to be trialing different ways of using matcha and we will be reporting back with the results.
Why is matcha so great for you?
Given that I have never drunk coffee (and of course neither does Liana since she is only 11!) I have never experienced that buzz of energy that I have heard it provides. From back in the day of working a 9-5 office job, and from the many many memes and coffee pics I see all over social media – it would seem that plenty of people cant live without their morning coffee… (Or the many others they have through out their day) Many times I have wondered exactly what I am missing out on, and also what alternatives there are.
To be honest I am not a huge fan of tea, hot chocolate or any hot liquid for that matter, I prefer to just drink [cold] water. But, I certainly could use an energy boost some days, so I am going to give this matcha green tea thing a go, and I am going to try use it in some cooking and smoothies…
Matcha + energy boosting…
In all the research I have done it seems one of the amazing effects of matcha is the sustained energy boost it provides. There is actually a scientific reason behind this…
Matcha contains an incredibly high concentration of the amino acid Theanine, also known as Teanin or L-Theanine. Thus, it is the origin for the word “tea”. The L-theanine amino acid in matcha is known for its ability to increase alpha waves in the brain and promote calmness and alert concentration giving matcha users a great “Zen” state. Experiments have shown that Theanine has a positive effect on the mind and improves memory by increasing dopamine levels.
Additionally, the alpha brain waves increase 40 minutes after consuming Theanine, making this a great study drink for scholars and students alike. Matcha contains a much greater concentration of Theanine because the plantations are shaded before harvest. As quoted in recent bodies of scientific research:
“L-Theanine has been studied for its potential ability to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition, and boost mood and cognitive performance in a synergistic manner with caffeine”
Matcha is also a great energy source because of the special way it deliver caffeine to your body in comparison to coffee. With matcha the caffeine is absorbed and released slowly by the body over a period of 6-8 hours. This means that matcha provides a sustainable energy boost and does not deliver the rapid 30 minute spike, slump and “jitters” associated with coffee. Source.
Health benefits of matcha…
Matcha is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which are naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic diseases, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Some sources say that one cup of matcha green tea can have as much as 10 times the antioxidants as regular green tea! Another polyphenol in matcha called EGCG has been shown in research to boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.
How to use Matcha green tea.
You can make tea with it of course and one of the most popular ways is to make a matcha latte. But you can also use it in smoothies, iced tea, bliss balls, cakes, cookies, muffins, soups and so many other things… You can also buy matcha tea bags which are a mix of normal green tea, and matcha powder if you want a quicker option!
Being the dessert lover that I am, and the sheer coincidence that my amazing friend Alice from The Whole Daily posted this recipe that ended up in my inbox, I decided to give matcha green tea and chocolate cheesecake a go first up! You can see how amazing it looked below, and you can get the recipe here…
Next up is to perfect making a matcha latte using coconut milk and the whisk pictured in the picture at the top of this page… I will report back with how the energy levels go after trying these out for a few weeks!
We would love to hear from you in the comments – have you tried matcha green tea? What is your favourite way to use it?