Matcha Health Benefits
If you want to know what is trending right now, look no further than the storefronts in Manhattan. Manhattan's ultra-competitive, cutting-edge style is always pushing innovation, so when a new type of store starts to make inroads, you can bet that the rest of the country is paying attention. What might these new stores be? According to the Wall Street Journal, purveyors of fine Matcha are making a serious headway in the Big Apple, and the rest of the country is certainly taking notice.
Lucky for most of us, matcha is much older than the New York scene, and is readily available in loads of flavors and styles. Making matcha is very simple, and with the new generation of flavored matcha, the need for separate flavors, syrups or ingredients have been all but eliminated, making matcha easier than ever to enjoy at home, and to enjoy the Matcha health benefits.
Matcha is green tea that has been ground with special granite wheels into a fine powder. Because it is powdered, the leaves are not steeped like a normal tea, rather it is infused and consumed directly as part of the beverage. Matcha traces its origins to Japan where it was, and is still is, used for the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, but these days it's uses have spread into casual drinking and even cooking. Because you are literally drinking the tea leaf, Matcha is a much richer cup than regular tea, and has the added benefit of being choc full of healthy antioxidants, which naturally are one of the primary Matcha health benefits.
How to choose matcha
Good quality Matcha costs more, there really isn't any way around it. Good quality tea is difficult to grow and requires years of expertise that can't be replicated at a lower cost. So, we always advise caution when a deal seems too good to be true. For example, you may find some 'ceremonial' matcha on Amazon for an amazing price. It might even say 100% Natural. However, some brands use brown rice filler, or added sugars. Good quality Matcha should just contain matcha, and for flavored varieties - natural flavors and nothing else.
New to the market are naturally flavored matchas. Using the same techniques as flavoring tea, small amounts of natural oils and essences are allowed to infuse into the matcha, creating a bounty of styles and flavors to satisfy any palette. Add a little milk (or milk substitute) and an optional touch of sugar and you have a flavorful, uplifting beverage many times more healthy than mass market beverages.
What are the health benefits of matcha?
Like green tea, matcha is loaded with the antioxidants that health experts tout as being borderline miraculous for your overall health. But, since a matcha drinker consumes the entire leaf and not just the brewed leaves, one glass of matcha contains the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of nutritional value & antioxidant content.
According to research done by Tufts University, the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) capacity of matcha green tea is exponentially higher than other foods known for their high antioxidants levels such as blueberries and spinach. The ORAC rating of matcha is 1300 units/g, compared to 105 units/g for pomegranates and 91 units/g for wild blueberries. This is important because this translates to well over 10x the free radical scrubbing antioxidant power of other health foods, with tons of benefits for anti-aging and your general well-being.
Along with the antioxidants, Matcha is also high in polyphenols (plant compounds) including the catechin EGCG. EGCG (or epicgallocatechin gallate) is the catechin with broadest and most potent cancer-fighting properties. Sixty percent of the catechin content of matcha tea is EGCG. One gram of matcha contains 105 mg of total catechin content, or roughly 61% EGCG. ECCG has also been shown to lower blood sugar levels. Research indicates that this blood sugar lowering quality was enhanced by ingesting it with dietary fiber, both of which are abundantly present in matcha.
In addition to all of the commonly cited benefits to matcha, it can also benefit your health in a variety of ways you might not guess. For example, Japanese varieties contain high levels of Chlorophyll which helps to remove heavy metals and toxins from the body, and the high levels of the amino acid L-Theanine in matcha combine with it's caffeine, leading to 3-6 hours of calm, sustainable alertness without the crash typically associated with other caffeinated beverages.
Matcha can also be beneficial for those looking to manage their weight by naturally influencing the process of thermogenesis. Thermogenesis is the process of producing heat, which when not initiated through processes like exercise or shivering, is fueled by body fat. Normally your body is using 8%-10% of daily energy expenditure generating heat, while matcha can increase this by around 4% at resting metabolic rates and as much as 25% when consumed in conjunction with exercise.
Making matcha at home allows you to control the sugar content as well, and therefore keep the health benefits of matcha without losing them through excess sugar. You can also add matcha to smoothies, oatmeal or any other healthy meal.