Which approach would you expect gets you more antioxidants from tea – Steeping the leaves in boiling, or near-boiling water, then discarding the leaves and drinking the resulting infusion, or just eating ground tea leaves? Matcha green tea is exactly that. Think of it as mainlining tea’s health benefits. You’re not just sipping the water-soluble molecules that make their way off the processed leaf into your cup. When you drink Matcha, you’re drinking a diffusion of green tea leaves, so you’re actually ingesting the whole green tea leaf.
Matcha is a finely ground powder of Japanese-style processed tea leaves. What this means is that it’s grown under very controlled conditions, such that the tea plants are shaded, so as to maximize the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves. That’s why Japanese teas tend to taste more grassy than Chinese or Sri-Lankan green teas, which are generally harvested from tea plants growing in open air conditions. Matcha is moderate in caffeine – a serving prepared with a 1/2 tsp of Matcha powder is about 30 – 35 mg, similar to that of other green teas prepared with an infusion of 1 heaping teaspoon of leaves. That’s about half the amount of caffeine you’d get from a cup of coffee.
Some of the commonly discussed health benefits of Matcha include:
Fat-Blocking. Gotta love it . . . especially because it’s true. Medical studies, including one published in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research by researchers at the College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, found that tea extract effectively inhibits adipogenesis (the production of fat) AND stimulates lipolysis (the destruction of fats). (Ref 1) Drinking green tea can boost your metabolism and increases fat oxidation during exercise. So, whether you choose to stay on the couch or plan a workout, you can help your body burn some calories by taking a shot of matcha half an hour before. (See Reference 2 below.)
Disease-Fighting. Numerous research projects, such as highly-referenced one from the Boston University Medical Center have concluded that tea polyphenols may disrupt the pathway that leads to the development of diseases, including heart disease, certain types of cancer, and Alzheimer’s. (Ref 3) And since Matcha gives you a more concentrated delivery of the tea leaf, drinking Matcha gets you more than three times than the amount of antioxidants available from traditionally-steeped green teas, according to researchers from the University of Colorado. (See Reference 4 below.)
Mood Rescuing. Some of the naturally-occurring compounds in tea leaves are associated with feelings of increased focus and well-being. Specifically, theanine is used as a mental and physical relaxant that does not induce drowsiness, and is used for treating anxiety and high blood pressure. Another amino acid in the tea leaf is theobromine, which remains in the blood stream much longer than caffeine, and is sometimes used as a mild antidepressant. A Japanese medical study concluded that more frequent consumption of green tea was associated with a lower prevalence of depressive symptoms. (Reference 5)
Some ideas on easy ways to get your daily Matcha dose in are below, but you can always just add a 1/2 tsp to your water bottle, glass of milk or favorite smoothie, salad dressing, or yogurt. Yummy way to pair Matcha are with lemon juice, olive or sesame oil, soy sauce, walnuts, or maple syrup.
Cold Brew Tea – especially great if you’re on the go! Just add a 1/2 tsp of Matcha to your water bottle, shake well, and off you go. Optional: Add a squeeze of lemon or lime.
Iced Latte – Briskly whisk 1/2 tsp Matcha into 1.5 cups hot water, adding 1/4 cup milk or soy and optional 1-2 tsp honey or agave. Pour over ice to serve.
Smoothie – Blend well: 1 TBS plain or vanilla yogurt, 1 cup ice, 1/2 cup soy, almond or coconut milk, 1/2 tsp of Matcha and 1/2 tsp maple syrup.
Yogurt – Add 1/2 tsp Matcha to single serving yogurt. Mix in 1 TBS chopped walnuts and optional 1 tsp honey or agave.
Salad Dressing – Simply stir 1/2 tsp Matcha vigorously for 1 minute into 2 TBS rice vinegar, gradually adding 1.5 tsp each honey and lemon juice, then slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix in 1/2 tsp shallots and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste. Enjoy over your favorite mixed green salad, steamed greens or quinoa Hint: It’s even great on sliced strawberries!
Ref 1: Jen-Kun Lin and Shoei-Yn Lin-Shiau. Mechanisms of hypolipidemic and anti-obesity effects of tea and tea polyphenols; Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, 2006 Volume 50, issue 2, pages 211–217,
Ref 2: Venables, M. C., Hulston, C. J., et al. Green tea extract ingestion, fat oxidation, and glucose tolerance in health humans. Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87: 778-84.
Ref 3: SJ Duffy, et al. Short- and Long-Term Black Tea Consumption Reverses Endothelial Dysfunction in Patients With Coronary Artery Disease. Boston University Medical Center, 2008
Ref 4: Weiss, David J.; Anderton, Christopher R.”Determination of catechins in matcha green tea by micellar electrokinetic chromatography”. Journal of Chromatography , 2003 1011 (1–2): 173–80.
Ref 5 Niu, Kaijun;, et al. Green tea consumption is associated with depressive symptoms in the elderly., The American journal of clinical nutrition, 2009.