What Makes Matcha Tea So Healthy?
Matcha lattes, matcha tea, matcha mochi, matcha goodies. Cute, vibrant green drinks in a trendy mason jar. Served hot, served cold. No matter which way you consume it, matcha tea is all the rage in health food stores, cafes, and wellness routines. I wasn’t sure I would be jumping on the matcha bandwagon until I started researching why matcha is beneficial for our health. After some research, I discovered the variety of health benefits of matcha and decided to add it to my self care menu and wellness routine.
Have you also been curious about why matcha tea is getting so much attention? Read on!
What is Matcha?
Matcha is more than just an insta-worthy, vibrant, green drink. It is rich in culture, unique flavor, and health benefits! Matcha is a green tea made from whole powdered tea leaves. The process of growing matcha is labor-intensive, with a critical process of shading and tarping the Camellia sinensis plant. Growing in the shade allows for an increased concentration of chlorophyll (producing the vibrant green color!) and beneficial elements in the leaves, such as amino acid L-Theanine.
Matcha tea is swimming with health benefits because the entire leaf is consumed! Matcha is typically prepared by sifting the super fine powder and whisking it into water/milk, vs. removing the tea bag from green tea. You get a unique flavor (usually grassy/sweet) AND more health benefits. Win, win!
Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
There are so many science-based benefits of matcha tea! Most research has been done on green tea and not specifically on matcha, so more research is definitely needed. However, the below benefits seem to be most backed by science:
- It may improve cardiovascular health.
Tea polyphenols, known as catechins, are abundant in matcha tea. Of these catechins, Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG for short) is MOST abundant in matcha tea! EGCG is a micronutrient proven to improve cardiovascular health by preventing plaque buildup, thickening of heart tissue, and heart attacks. Catechins also help to decrease LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol) and may help lower blood pressure.
- Matcha is RICH in antioxidants.
According to the Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity Test (ORAC), matcha tea has 1384 units of antioxidants per gram. That’s 15x more antioxidants than blueberries and (drumroll) 125x more than spinach! Additionally, flavonoids in matcha tea are reported to reduce inflammation and prevent tooth decay.
- It has anti-cancer properties.
Catechins help to decrease the number of free radicals, which may help prevent and stop growth of some cancers. Extensive cohort studies have shone green tea consumption has an inverse relationship with gastric cancers. Finally, phytochemicals in matcha, such as catechins and gallic acid, have been used in conjunction with some chemotherapy treatments.
- May help burn fat.
Matcha is part of the green tea family, which has been linked to increase energy expenditure and fat burning. Some studies have shown green tea extract helped reduce body weight and maintain weight loss. **Little disclaimer here, is that matcha/green tea alone is not recommended for fat-burning/weight loss! I recommend you speak to your doctor, nutritionist, or trusted healthcare provider for support on your journey to healthy living!**
(P.S. I could add this disclaimer to each of the items on this list, but find it imperative here! Remember health living is all about finding what feels good for YOU in your diet, exercise, sleep, and lifestyle… xoxo)
- Can help improve your skin!
Compounds such as caffeine and ECGC are great additions to skincare routines and can help boost complexion, brighten skin, and reduce redness! Tenzo tea has a fun DIY matcha facemask, and Cocokind’s mymatcha stick is a beauty essential for me (I have one at home, work, and in my travel bag for on-the-go magic):
- Boosts energy without a crash!
With the combination of caffeine and L-Theanine, the energy boost from matcha is more stable than coffee. It can be beneficial for calm focus and concentration. How? Well, L-Theanine acts to boost the brain’s production of alpha waves, which are normally seen during meditation/yoga and is associated with relaxation and mental clarity. This means a grounded energy boost without the yucky, jittery, crashing feeling some people get with coffee. (See “Final Notes” for important considerations here!)
It may go without saying, but I am in no way saying matcha is good specifically for you as we are all individuals with our own health wants/needs. As with anything, being “healthy” does not mean there are not any risks or personal considerations to take into consideration. Matcha contains caffeine and the amount per serving varies based on the specific matcha brand purchased, anywhere from 19 to 44 grams of caffeine per gran of matcha. For reference, a standard, cup of coffee contains about 95 grams of caffeine per 8 oz. serving.
Per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), it is recommended to stay within safe amounts of caffeine intake by consuming NO MORE than 400mg per day, or 200mg of caffeine at a time.
Thank you so matcha for reading. Next, I’d love to dive into using matcha in my cooking and baking. I’d love if you shared any recommendations in the comments below! As of yet, I have only tried the Jade Leaf matcha, but I aim to compare it to other brands soon.
Post updated May 21, 2021
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