What is Matcha Tea:
What distinguishes Quality matcha tea from how other green teas are grown is, that the tea bushes (Camellia Sinensis) are grown in the shade versus instead of under the sun in order to force the leaves to overproduce chlorophyll. The high chlorophyll content turns the leaves a vibrant shade of green.
That rich green color takes over pretty much anything it's mixed with. So for baking, cooking, and even cocktail-mixing needs, add a little Matcha powder for a naturally green and nutritious treat.
Once harvested, the leaves are laid out to air dry and then finely milled into a delicate powder. It’s this powder that can then be whisked with hot water or steamy milk. The laborious process required to bring matcha to market is why this version of green tea is pricier than other teas.
The best matcha hails from Japan, particularly the southern half of the country.
Benefits of Matcha Tea, that makes people drink it daily:
Over the past few years, matcha has become a popular drink. You'll find it offered at almost all coffee shops, and available in many styles. It has become almost a food trend, but unlike most food trends, matcha has maintained its cult wellness status.
So, lets know exactly what matcha powder does, and its benefits.
Event though Matcha is part of the green-tea family, but unlike traditional forms of green tea, where you steep tea leaves in water to create the drink, matcha is the powder made from the actual tea leaves, just ground up. Because of this, when you consume matcha, you're getting a higher concentration of the leaves' nutrients.
Green tea contains a type of antioxidants called catechins, as well as another group, polyphenols. "Matcha powder offers a megadose of these powerful antioxidants, which can help reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease," says nutritionist Jenna Gorham, RD, founder of Jenna Gorham Nutrition Consulting in Bozeman, Montana.
Matcha powder has about three times the amount of caffeine as alternative types of brewed teas. That's about the same energy benefit—or slightly less than—a cup of coffee.
Matcha powder contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress. One research found that drinking a beverage rich in L-theanine can be extremely effective for those with high anxiety.
People say that when they drink matcha, they have a smooth alertness and don't experience a 'caffeine crash,' which could have to do with the L-theanine component.
In a study published in Food Research International, people who drank matcha tea experienced an increase in attention and processing speed an hour later —likely due to a trifecta of L-theanine, a major polyphenol called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and caffeine.
So on your busiest workdays, splurging on a matcha latte (which can be a bit expensive if the matcha powder is good quality) might just be the perfect investment.
While there's no specific research proving the anticancer benefits of matcha powder itself, scientists have been reviewing green tea as a category for years. Study after study has linked the powerful antioxidant EGCG to cancer prevention, especially of colorectal types (but also breast, prostate, and lung). Apparently, the compound might inhibit cancer cell growth by inducing apoptosis—a.k.a., killing malignant cells.
Continuing on EGCG, another research or rather a review of studies mentioned that, thanks to this EGCG, consuming green tea can result in a serious reduction in bad cholesterol (often called "LDL"). LDL is the type of cholesterol that leads to a buildup of fatty acids in the arteries, which some experts say increases your risk for heart attack and stroke.
Most people don't think about actively taking measures to build bone strength, but it's important for your fitness and mobility, especially as you age. Green tea may increase bone mineral density and in turn lowering your risk of developing osteoporosis, according to several studies. Don't overlook this benefit.
Also, Matcha powder has a strong, earthy taste, so it's most often whisked and served with milk or a non-dairy alternative, like almond or oat milk. Because of this, the drink tends to be as satiating as your average espresso-based latte.
But some coffee shops and restaurants might use a mix that has sugar and/or powdered milk to balance out the earthy flavor, which makes it less healthy than straight-up matcha powder. Ask your barista if they use actual matcha powder or a pre-made mix, and if the latter, what's in it.
And lastly, some researches suggest that artificial food dyes may be linked to cancer or cause "hypersensitivity reactions." Which is why when there's an opportunity to color food using natural sources, you should take advantage.
How to Make best Matcha Tea:
The flavor of matcha depends on the quality of powder used and the region from which it comes. And there are clear distinctions between good and bad quality matcha, that latter being a powder that is pale green in color and tastes unpleasantly bitter. Better-quality matcha will have naturally sweet, vegetal tasting notes. Be sure to purchase your matcha from companies with high standards of quality control.
To make a warm emerald infusion, place a teaspoon of matcha powder into a bowl or mug and pour in 2 to 3 ounces filtered water brought to just under a boil. Using boiling water will bring out bitter flavors. Whisk briskly (ideally with a bamboo whisk), until frothy and then add as much additional steamy water as desired.
A matcha latte habit is fine, but ideally you want to also consume some of your matcha sans milk, since there is research showing that both milk proteins like casein and milk fat globules may bind tea antioxidants and make them less useful to us.
A dairy-free green smoothie is a great option.
And be aware that some lattes are made with very little matcha and can include hidden sugary ingredients like flavored plant milk or syrups that will cancel out some of the health benefits.
In addition to sipping matcha as a straight-up tea or a trendy latte, there’s no shortage of creative uses for the powder.
Add it to pancake, muffin or cookie batter, blend into post-run smoothies, whisk into salad dressings, use it as part of a rub for poultry, make green popsicles, or try it as a topping for popcorn.
Save more expensive, higher-grade matcha, often labeled “ceremonial grade” are hailed from the youngest, most delicate tea leaves.
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