Green teas are one of the most popular beverages in the world today and comes packed with health benefits. One particular variety of green tea, matcha, is one of the healthiest types of green teas and has been linked to health benefits such as improved heart health and weight loss.
If you are looking for a new way to start your day, then matcha just might be for you.
As it is grown and prepared differently than other green teas the whole experience of preparing and drinking matcha along its health effects, make it a very unique drink.
Matcha and regular green tea are derived from Camellia sinensis, a species of evergreen shrub or small tree whose leaves and leaf buds are used to produce tea.
Matcha, however, is grown differently than traditional green tea. Across hundreds of years of trial and error, Japanese masters discerned that to obtain the highest-grade ceremonial matcha, the tencha tea bushes must be shaded from the sun for final 20-30 days prior to harvest. (see photo from our trips to Japan)
This protection from direct sunlight increases chlorophyll by restricting photosynthesis in the leaves – photosynthesis converts chlorophyll from light into energy. Increasing green chlorophyll pigment alters the balance of caffeine, sugars, and flavanols in each leaf. Similarly, restricting photosynthesis increases L-Theanine, which adds the unique vegetal flavor, beneficially transforms the effects of caffeine and relaxes the body while still engendering an alert mind.
After harvesting, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves. Traditionally they are then stone-ground on a granite block into a fine, bright green neon powder, known as matcha. Find our how to determine the best matcha here.
One of the big differences in the preparation and overall experience to matcha is that the whole leaf powder is actually whisked and ingested. This is why matcha is higher in caffeine and antioxidants than regular green tea.
How much caffeine is there in matcha?
Generally, one cup of matcha (1 chashaku/teaspoon) contains about 35 mg which is higher than a regular green tea.
Matcha tea is prepared differently than regular green tea and is what makes the drinking experience unique.
A reguar cup of green tea is made by infusing the tea leaves in water, where as a matcha tea invovles whisking the tea powder which is then completely consumed. Due to the intimacy of making a cup of matcha it can help one be present, mindful and 'in the moment.' See our infographic on how to make matcha.
Most people prepare matcha the traditional Japanese way as it has been an integral part of the Japanese culture for nearly a thousand years. The best matcha is also known to come from Japan from the Kyoto or Nishio regions . The tea is traditionally used during Japanese tea ceremonies, where the tea powder is measured with a bamboo scoop (chashaku), hot water (about 70°C/175°F) is then added to a bowl (chawan) and then the tea is whisked with a special bamboo whisk (chasen), until a smooth frothy layer is created on the top.
When drinking matcha there are several ways you can try it:
Regular: Mix 1 chashaku of matcha powder with 2 ounces of hot water.
Usucha (thin): Mix 1/2 a chashaku of matcha, mixed with about 3 ounces of hot water.
Koicha (thick): Usually what is drunk during the Japanese tea ceremonies. Mix 2 teaspoons of matcha with about 1 ounce of hot water. We recommend using a higher grade such as our Limited release matcha.
As matcha is another variation of green tea, it has most of the same health benefits.
However, since the leaves are grown in the shade they are known to have a much higher level of antioxidants known as polyphenols.
Matcha contains an abundance of potent antioxidants, especially catechins, critical agents in maintaining good health. The most powerful catechin in it is epicallocatechin gallate (EGCG).
EGCG has been studied extensively and may even fight inflammation in the body, help maintain healthy arteries and promote cell repair.
Does matcha really contain up to 137 times more antioxidants vs green tea?
There was one study that found this to be true but what people overlook is the fact that the tea in comparison was a very low-grade variety of green tea. Probably something that you or I would not buy. In the same study results showed that matcha had up to 3 times more antioxidants than the other higher grade green teas.
Matcha therefore, does have more antioxidants than a regular green tea, but honestly only up to 3 times more.
Many weight loss supplements contain green tea and therefore is often associated with weight loss. Human studies have shown that green tea is able to increase total calories burned by increasing ones metabolic rate. Furthermore it has also been shown to increase selective fat burning by up to 17%.
There are studies showing that any weight loss attributed to drinking green are so small that they would not be of clinical importance. Weight loss depends on a huge number of other inputs and so drinking matcha could be a small extra routine that you can incorporate but isn't likely to do anything on its own.
Drinking green tea may help improve total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Studies have actually shown that green tea drinkers have up to a 31% lower risk of heart disease than people who don’t drink green tea. This is due to the antioxidants and plant compounds in green tea and matcha.
Matcha contains an abundance of potent amino acids, critical agents in maintaining good health.
L-Theanine, in particular, stimulates the production of alpha wave activity in the brain and may help fight stress signals. This activity is associated with the highly sought-after state of calm alertness. The almost-magical duality of L-Theanine sees it promote natural relaxation while simultaneously heightening concentration and is also known to reduce anxiety levels. Additionally, L-Theanine is implicated in the production of serotonin and dopamine, both of which are well documented to enhance your mood.
Matcha tea does contain much higher levels of L-theanine than other types of green teas.
Regular matcha drinkers report clearer and quicker thinking, improved memory retention and sharper recollection, increased alertness, heightened awareness, elevated moods including a calm sense of euphoria and increased concentration.
L-theanine also modifies the effects of caffeine in the body as in binds in a unique way, increasing alertness without causing the drowsiness is usually associated with coffee. Try it for yourself and to see the difference.
L-theanine can also help increase the amount of serotonin in the brain, leading to improved mood, memory and concentration
Other studies have shown that powdered green tea may improve brain function and reduce age-related cognitive decline in the elderly
Matcha is powerful stimulation.
Matcha vs Green Tea - Overall matcha contains a lot more health benefits and provides a unique way to prepare and drink tea. Both matcha and Green Tea are good for you however due to the higher amounts of plant compounds, we recommend only drinking 1-2 cups per day.