By now you are probably au fait with the many health benefits of green tea – it has been linked to cutting the risk of stroke, heart disease and diabetes.
So we thought it was about time we got clued up on matcha – the finely ground powder made of whole, high-grade green tea leaves.
One glass of matcha is thought to contain as many antioxidants as 10 glasses of regular green tea, so it must be pretty good, right?
What Is Matcha?
Matcha has been consumed for over a millennium in the Far East, and is now considered to be one of the most powerful superfoods on the market.
“A long standing tradition of Japanese culture, matcha green tea is the highest quality powdered green tea available,” explains Tipper Lewis, head herbalist at Neal’s Yard Remedies.
“Made from the nutrient-rich young leaves picked from the tips of shade-grown Camellia sinensis plants, matcha green tea is steamed, stemmed, and de-vined before being stone-ground into very fine powder.
“Matcha powder is then stored away from light and oxygen in order to preserve its brilliant green colour and antioxidant properties.”
Think of matcha as “green tea on steroids”, the superfood is not only high in antioxidants but its contains almost three times as much caffeine as regular green tea.
While all green tea naturally contains caffeine, the energy boost received from matcha is largely due to its unique combination of other nutrients.
According to Lewis, the increased endurance from a bowl of matcha can last up to six hours and because of the effects of L-Theanine, matcha drinkers experience none of the usual side-effects of stimulants such as nervousness and hypertension. It’s good, clean energy.
Matcha also helps to safely cleanse the body of harmful elements, and Lewis adds that the chlorophyll that gives green tea and other plants their signature verdant colour is also a powerful detoxifier, helping to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body.
“And because matcha is carefully shade-grown, it is substantially richer in chlorophyll than other green teas, making it a superior daily detox.”
Matcha green tea is also believed to help boost metabolism, but nutritionist and health editor at About.com Rachel Berman warns against seeing matcha as a miracle weight loss aid.
“Research shows that compounds in green tea, most notably the catechin Epigallocatechin gallate (ECGC), may boost metabolism. However, on its own, remember that one food or drink will not work to keep you healthy or maintain your weight.”
How To Use Matcha
Lewis suggests adding ½ teaspoon to your chosen drink – fruit juice, hot/cold water or milk.
Or if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, check out the recipes in the slideshow below.