A superfood all on its own, matcha is a special variety of green tea that is made from a specially-harvested version of the Camellia Sinensis plant, which allows the increase of both l-theanine as well as caffeine levels naturally.
While its origin – much like tea itself – lies in ancient Chinese culture, it is extremely popular throughout the world today, to the extent that even a beverage magnate like Starbucks has a matcha latte!
While it is technically a green tea, Matcha tea is very unconventional and non-traditional in the sense that instead of being a part of a decoction, it comes as a blended powder that can be consumed directly. Needless to say, matcha green tea provides powerful health benefits and elements that are the same as traditional green tea, only in extra dosage – from l-theanine to caffeine and anti-oxidants – making it one of the healthiest AND trendiest ways to get your dose of caffeine!
An extremely popular beverage in today's day and age, matcha tea itself is available in many different organic varieties of powders, and practically every grocery store, tea store, and health food store offers it in some or the other form. While this fantastic superfood may look like your run-of-the-mill protein powder, it is actually much, much more.
So What Is Matcha?
As mentioned before, matcha is basically the same as conventional green tea, but with more enhanced properties. The difference is in the way the plants are harvested. In the case of matcha, the cultivators grow a uniquely potent variety of green tea (Camelia Sinensis plant) by making some special processing considerations.
By growing the plants in a shaded atmosphere, especially towards the last few weeks of their growth-cycles, the leaves thereby produced contain higher, more concentrated amounts of “good” compounds such as I-theanine and caffeine. Thereafter, matcha is made with these specially harvested plants.
After being cultivated for several weeks, the plants are then processed and converted into the much-recognized matcha-powder form. This process generally involves harvesting the plants' most potent leaves, which are then dried. After drying, the leaves are then de-stemmed and de-veined, which results in a fine powder of deep green color (which comes courtesy of the amino-acid richness from spending time inside the shelter).
Specific tea masters are in charge of the entire process, and have a specific method of deciding the plants and leaves which should be harvested, how the leaves should be dried, and how the powder must be purified and extracted.
What Is Matcha Tea?
Once the green tea plants have been processed to its ready-to-buy powder form, it can then either be prepared for drink or can be packed to be sold (depending upon the circumstances). That said, before it is used for drinking, matcha powder is filtered with a colander or sieve to break-up the clumps and convert the matcha into a fine powder.
This step is generally preferred, for the basic reason that it makes consuming matcha beverages a much smoother experience. Apart from using it as a tea, matcha can be consumed in numerous other ways, on the basis of one's preference – from matcha shots (drinking matches, anyone?), matcha smoothies, matcha lattes (that green foam), or as a natural color that can be added to some foods to add an extra dash of green.
Tea is, therefore, only one of the several ways in which matcha can be consumed. Needless to say, the experience will be very different from that of drinking your regular tea!
What Are The Benefits Of Drinking Matcha Tea?
Consuming matcha powder has benefits that are very much similar to that of regular green tea, with the exception that the former is much more potent than the latter. Consuming matcha tea (and/or other associated beverages) has been associated with many desirable bodily effects, from reduction of cancer cells, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels, to prevention (or at least maintenance) of tooth decay, to natural treatment of depression.
Furthermore, matcha also has several anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. All-in-all, it can be said that the benefits matcha green tea provides are both well-established and tremendous. All said and done, though, you must understand that matcha is not a substitute for mainstream treatments, and therefore cannot (and should not) replace regular exercise and healthy diet. As a matter of fact, when used in combination with the aforementioned, it can yield benefits that none of these can provide on their own.
Thanks to its very potent mix of amino acids, polyphenols, and antioxidants, matcha tea gives some very specific benefits that are otherwise not present with regular tea. According to a study, matcha powder helps reduce liver and kidney damage in animals suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. Said effect was observed with a steady, total reduction in both cholesterol and glucose levels as an effect of regular consumption of matcha.
In yet another animal study, it was observed that regular consumption of matcha powder greatly increases the number of toxins that the body can eliminate. Researchers found that those animals which consumed matcha passed larger amounts of toxins such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) through bowel movements.
Mice which were given matcha tea could eliminate more than 10 times the number of harmful toxins they could before! Although these tests have been conducted on animals and not on humans (yet), it can definitely be concluded that green tea in general, and matcha tea by extension, can be a very suitable addition to any kind of a detox diet.
In addition to all of this, green contains Catechin, a very powerful beneficial compound and a variety of phenol that exhibits natural antioxidant action and anti-allergy effects. According to research, matcha can produce a much higher serum level of Catechins (in the blood) than its regular counterpart.
Needless to say, the benefits of matcha are indeed more than you can count!
Where Can You Buy Matcha Green Tea?
With both green tea and matcha being extremely popular these days, there exist various options with which you can buy your preferred variety of tea should you want to use it regularly. Green tea, which is available in practically all grocery stores, is already well-known.
Additionally, organic green tea is now also readily available, and can easily be bought from various places, from supplement retail chains such as The Vitamin Shoppe and grocery stores like Whole Foods, to local grocery stores.
You can buy the tea in various forms, from bulk orders and loose-leaf products, to single-serving tea-bags that are very portable and convenient-to-use. Additionally, various green tea products like Numi’s Gunpowder Green Tea offer Non-GMO-certified products containing fair trade ingredients.
Certain other tea varieties are also manufactured by foreign countries whose standards-of-living are lower than that of the US, and are often produced by manufacturers who have less concern of local conditions. While buying tea, you must make sure that you buy products that have been certified, which in turns will help benefit the world economy and let the local producers earn their deserved compensation – all while benefiting your health!
Matcha, on the other hand, despite its immense popularity, remains a ’boutique’ item – and cannot be found on regular grocery store shelves as of today. If you plan to incorporate matcha in your diet, you must plan how you will drink it.
If you're a first timer, you will fare better using pre-bagged herbs that are easier to manage than powders. In this regard, Republic of Tea has among its products a popular variety of organic matcha tea that is basically a blend of different kinds of green-tea leaves.
While it is a tad more expensive, it includes benefits of both matcha powder and green tea. Well-known in the industry as leading both in terms of quality ingredients and being a responsible business, the brand is very popular and has a stellar reputation.
While matcha powder is generally expensive, you can reduce the amount of money you need by shopping for it online. For example, a 16-ounces pack of Davidson’s Matcha Powder (Organic) can be bought on Amazon for a far lower price as opposed to buying from stores.
Matcha Green Tea Conclusion
A more potent variety of the conventional green tea, matcha has the same benefits as green tea – but at a higher level. With Matcha Green Tea's concentrated amounts of both L-Theanine and caffeine, matcha provides a more focused state of concentration that caffeine alone cannot provide.
Note that these two are classifies as Nootropics – supplements that are known to boost brain-power considerably. With a natural compound such as matcha, one can easily supplement their health with the least hassle. Furthermore, other supplements like Niagen also help control aging (at least to some extent) on the cellular scale.
Indeed, this is a truly exciting time to live in, when Organic compounds and Nootropics such as matcha and Niagen are easily available, and can be bought without needing any prescription! While the compounds are declared as safe, you must, as a buyer, pay attention to the brands that you buy from.
Furthermore, you must always make sure to consult your doctor regarding supplements and compounds like matcha and the effect that they can and will specifically have on your health.