We know tea may be the world’s healthiest beverage — and green tea seems to be the most healthful of all. But what makes matcha special?
The matcha process begins while the green tea leaves are still growing. The plants are shaded before harvesting to increase chlorophyll and amino acid content (particularly L-theanine) and to improve the appearance and flavor of the tea. This gives matcha its brilliant green color.
A cup of matcha has about ten times the antioxidants of regular green tea.
Once the leaves are harvested, steamed, dried, and blended, they are ground up into a fine powder that you mix into hot or cold water.
The result? You’re actually drinking the entire tea leaf! With traditional green tea, in comparison, you’re only drinking the dissolvable elements that the leaves infuse into the water.
So matcha can give you the health benefits of green tea, and then some! In fact, a cup of matcha has about TEN times the antioxidants of regular green tea.
What Are the Health Benefits of Matcha Tea?
Why might you want to drink matcha?
Here are six science-backed benefits you may get from sipping matcha:
1. Matcha Supports Heart Health
Green tea catechins contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system. And matcha is the most potent type of green tea.
A 2001 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the catechins from tea may reduce the risk of heart disease mortality.
And a 2009 study published in Stroke found that drinking three cups of green (or black) tea every day could prevent stroke.
There’s also a link between green tea and healthy cholesterol levels. A comprehensive analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 concluded that green tea resulted in significant reductions in LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol).
Plus the powerful antioxidants found in green tea, especially EGCG, have shown to be helpful in maintaining healthy arteries.
2. Matcha Prevents Cell Damage
Studies have shown that drinking matcha regularly reduces the damage caused by free radicals.
This has anti-aging implications plus it’s excellent news for building a stronger immune system!
3. Matcha Supports Brain Health
Studies show that consuming matcha can help support healthy cognitive function.
Researchers in a 2014 study published in the journal Nutrients found that green tea consumption may be effective in improving cognitive function and reducing the progression of cognitive dysfunction. Participants drank green tea powder every day for three months.
In another 2017 study published in Food Research International on healthy adults, those who consumed matcha demonstrated better performance in reaction time, memory, and attentionwhen compared with a group given a placebo.
4. Matcha Supports Healthy Metabolism
It turns out that matcha may help you lose weight by increasing your metabolism and helping you burn more fat.
In one fascinating 2005 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that regularly drinking matcha can result in an increase in your body’s rate of thermogenesis (the rate at which you burn calories) from 8-10% (without matcha) to 35-43% (with it)!
That same study also showed a significant reduction in body fat from drinking matcha.
In a 2018 study published in Human Kinetics, women drank a cup of matcha before a 30-minute brisk walk. Scientists learned that consuming the matcha tea led to a 40% increase in the amount of fat broken down and turned into energy during the walk.
5. Matcha Helps Improve Mood and Mental Focus
Matcha contains higher levels of amino acids (the building blocks of protein) than any other tea. And it turns out to be highest in one of the most prized amino acids, L-theanine.
What does L-theanine do for you? It can put you in a calm and meditative state.
The effect of drinking matcha is commonly described as “relaxed alertness” because caffeine helps the brain focus and stay alert while L-theanine helps it relax.
L-theanine is also why the caffeine in tea may not give you the same jitters as the caffeine in coffee does. It acts as a complement to caffeine, balancing the jitters or anxiety you might typically feel, while still providing you with calm energy.
While all green tea contains L-theanine, the levels found in matcha are unmatched. Most green teas have four milligrams of L-theanine per serving, but matcha has 20 milligrams!
Fun fact: One of the earliest uses of matcha was as an aid to the meditation practice of Japanese monks. Drinking matcha would help them sit alert and calm for hours on end.
Even if you’re not big on meditating, most of us could do with a little more calm alertness.
6. Matcha Assists in Detoxification
Chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for the lovely green color in plants, is a proven aid in detoxification. It helps flush away heavy metals, toxins, and chemicals from your body.
Because matcha tea leaves are shade-grown they gain higher levels of chlorophyll than other green teas, making matcha the most potent source of chlorophyll.
BEWARE: Not All Matcha is Made Equally – Here’s 3 Ways to Determine The Quality of Matcha Tea
Because of the way leaves are grown, shaded, harvested and processed, the price of the matcha tea reflects the quality. After all, the harvest of high-quality matcha takes place only once each year.
So if you find inexpensive matcha, there’s a good chance that the leaves are of a lesser quality without proper processing — which means fewer health benefits. Matcha is one of those things where, more often than not, you get what you pay for.
So how do you know which matcha tea is a good one to choose?
There are three main ways you can judge a matcha’s quality:
- Flavor — Quality matcha teas will have a harmony of creamy, savory, grassy, and roasted flavors.
- Color — What you want is a beautiful bright and vibrant green. If your matcha is on the yellow side, that means it’s of a lesser quality and comes from leaves harvested later in the year instead of during the spring.
- The Appearance of Froth — The traditional method of drinking matcha involves whisking it with a bamboo whisk to create a frothy foam. If the bubbles are large and irregular, this means the matcha powder is coarsely ground and of lesser quality. The highest quality matcha, on the other hand, is finely ground and creates foam made of tiny, uniform bubbles when whisked with skill.
Alright, So I’m Ready To Try It, But Which Brand Should I Choose?
In recent years, a company called Ideal Matcha has become the go-to brand for high quality matcha. Celebrities like Gweneth Paltrow, Ashley Olsen, Jessica Alba, and 3 time Grammy Award winner Drake have boasted about their obsession for this high quality matcha green tea.
Ideal Matcha is 100% USDA Organic and contains no additives and is virtually calorie free (just 3 calories per serving). But it’s their proprietary growing technique they call ShadeFUSIONTM technology that separates them from the rest. Developed by scientists and botanists from the University of Tokyo, ShadeFUSIONTM enables the tea leaves to retain more than 99.2% of it’s vital nutrients, creating the highest quality, nutrient rich matcha on the market today.