Matcha green tea originated in Japan, where it has been an essential part of the Buddhist communion ceremony for more than 800 years. The preparation of matcha is the focus of Japanese tea ceremonies and, when done traditionally, the ritual is designed to focus the senses so that one is totally involved in the moment and not distracted by mundane thoughts and is likened to a Zen feeling.
While matcha is a green tea, it isn’t the same as the green tea you see in the grocery store. It is has been de-veined, de-stemmed, then ground up into a fine powder. The most nutritious part of the tea leaves are used and consumed when you drink the tea. By consuming the entire tea leaf, matcha tea benefits are 10 to 15 times higher in nutrients than regular green teas.
What’s so wonderful about the specific nutrients? A cup of matcha green tea holds a powerhouse of antioxidants. Catechins are a type of antioxidants are found in matcha green tea and other superfoods we love, like dark chocolate, blueberries, and spinach. In comparison, matcha has 242 mg of catechins versus 188.8 mg in regular green tea. The concentrated antioxidants in matcha are anti-carcinogenic, which means they fight free radicals in your body that can cause cancer and other diseases. In addition to fighting disease, and slowing the aging process in our body and brain, matcha may aid in weight loss. Epigallocatechin (EGCG) is a component found in tea leaves that can transform fat into fuel in the bloodstream. This process called thermogenesis can aid in weight loss, especially when paired with the caffeine in matcha.
Speaking of caffeine, matcha tea has about three times more caffeine than green tea or the equivalent of drinking one cup of coffee, but you won’t get the same buzz or jitters when drinking matcha. Matcha is unique because it contains L-theanine, a component known to induce relaxation without drowsiness.
Ready to brew the benefits of matcha tea? It is available in tea bags and powder. Quality matcha tea powder will have a vibrant green color and a very fine texture (like baby powder). Lesser qualities will have a yellowish-green tint. Quality matcha will have a slightly grassy flavor with just a hint of bitterness while lesser qualities will have a bitter, astringent finish.
Prepare matcha powder by using water just below boiling point. Traditionally, matcha powder is prepared using a bamboo whisk but a regular whisk works fine too. Using a bowl, whisk just enough water to dissolve the powder, then add more water to make a six-ounce cup. Whisk until a frothy foam appears on the top. Pour the tea into a cup and enjoy. If you’re not a fan of tea, make a smoothie to get matcha benefits. Use one-half teaspoon of matcha and add one cup of pineapple juice, one cup of almond, soy or coconut milk, and half of a banana. You can also sprinkle matcha powder on oatmeal or applesauce.