For thousands of years, matcha has been consumed for its countless health benefits and unique power to simultaneously relax the mind and energize the body.
Primarily produced in Japan, matcha (pronounced “MA-cha”) is essentially green tea leaves that have been grown under meticulous conditions and ground into a fine, jade-hued powder.
Unlike other kinds of tea, which are infused in and removed from water, matcha is whisked and suspended in water so that the tea leaves are consumed in their entirety. In other words, with matcha, you’re able to enjoy even more of the nutrients found naturally in green tea.
If you need a reason to start drinking matcha, here are seven of them.
It has calming properties.
L-theanine is a rare amino acid found in high concentrations in matcha that promotes a feeling of happy relaxation while reducing mental and physical stress, making matcha a great pick-me-up to enjoy at work or during the mid-day slump.
It provides an energy boost without the crash.
Despite its calming properties, matcha’s unique combination of high caffeine levels and l-theanine provides a stable and extended boost of energy without causing the usual jittery side effects associated with coffee and energy drinks. Likewise, it induces a profound feeling of mental clarity and a more alert state of mind.
It’s high in antioxidants.
Matcha is rich in catechins, a class of plant compounds found in tea that act as natural antioxidants and help to reduce cell damage, prevent chronic disease and promote heart and brain health.
With 13 times the antioxidants of pomegranates, 15 times the antioxidants of blueberries and 125 times that of spinach, matcha has one of the highest antioxidant ratings among the popular “superfoods.”
It makes for a great detox.
Matcha leaves are shaded for a few weeks prior to harvest, which forces them to produce extra chlorophyll in their leaves. Containing powerful detoxifying properties, chlorophyll has the ability to naturally eliminate chemicals and heavy metals from the body.
It may help you lose weight.
In a 2005 study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers cited that regularly drinking matcha can result in an increase in your body’s rate of thermogenesis – the rate at which you burn calories – from 8 to 10 percent (without matcha) to 35 to 43 percent (with matcha). The study also highlighted the possibility of a significant reduction in body fat associated with drinking matcha.
It promotes mindfulness.
When done quietly and intentionally, preparing and drinking matcha becomes a meditation practice in itself. Taking a moment to enjoy every sip mindfully is the perfect way to bring peace into your busy day, as the ritual allows you to clear the clutter from your mind and concentrate on the present.
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L-Theanine and other amino acids give matcha its signature “umami” taste, a savory flavor characteristic of broths and cooked meats. If you’re tasting a lot of umami, you’re most likely getting a potent dose of amino acids.
Although matcha may be an acquired taste for some (it lacks the sugary characteristics commonly found in most American beverages), foodies love it for its nutty, grassy notes and creamy mouthfeel.
If you find matcha too bitter for your taste, simply add a bit of milk or milk alternative to the tea. You can also add it to your morning smoothie for an added boost of nutrition.
Pro Tip: You get what you pay for
The quality of tea leaves greatly impacts both the taste and nutritional content of matcha, so be mindful of the product you purchase.
Inexpensive matcha, such as matcha packaged in tea bags, is often made with inferior-quality tea leaves that have not been processed properly, resulting in fewer health benefits. A high-quality matcha – often vibrant green in color and capable of producing a uniform frothy foam when whisked – may set you back a bit more than what you’re used to paying for run-of-the-mill coffee or tea, but the benefits are well worth it.
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