The health benefits of Matcha tea are said to greatly exceed those of other green tea types. This is mainly due to the fact that when matcha tea is consumed, it’s as if the entire green tea leaves are ingested, and not just the brewed or infused water.
Matcha tea is finely-milled green tea leaves that come in powder form. The taste and flavor of matcha tea is quite sweet and has a somewhat creamy and milky touch.
The tea is traditionally consumed in Japan by mixing it with hot water and enjoyed in slow sips together with meals. A newer generation has come to enjoy cold matcha tea by mixing the powder with cool water and then drinking it casually throughout the day, or after engaging in vigorous activities.
Matcha is also used in Japan as flavor and coloring to foods such as mochi, soba noodles, ice cream and various sweets. Of late, the appeal of matcha tea has crossed over into different parts of the world, with the powdered tea leaves being used to flavor milkshakes, coffee drinks, cookies, candies and cakes.
To produce matcha tea powder, the leaves of the designated camellia sinensis plants are covered for several weeks. The best tea buds are then picked and laid down flat to dry. These buds will then crumble somewhat and then be ground to a powder that is vivid green in color, and smoothly fine in texture.
Matcha tea has different grades. These grades are defined by the location of the leaves on the tea bush, the treatment before processing, the stone grinding and the oxidation process.
The famous Japanese tea ceremony called chanoyu centers on the preparation of matcha tea. The ceremony had its beginnings around the end of the 12th century, when the tea was used in preparation for the meditative practices of Zen Buddhism. It is performed in modern times to highlight the Japanese cultural themes of simplicity, humility, restraint, and discipline. It is also used to exhibit Japanese aesthetic beauty.
Because matcha tea is green tea leaves in powdered form, all the healing components of the leaves, such as the antioxidants, chlorophyll, vitamins, minerals and nutrients, are preserved in the powder. The following are the active constituents of matcha tea: antioxidants catechins, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), amino acids, theanine, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, potassium and caffeine.
One glass of matcha tea is said to contain the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea in terms of its nutritional value and antioxidant content. In fact, a study conducted in 2003 by researchers from the University of Colorado found that the EGCG content of matcha tea is 137 times greater than those found in regular green tea.
This is because the drinker gets to take in all the health benefits contained in the leaves while the infused or brewed version of green tea only imparts the leaf essence in the hot water as the non-ingestible and soggy leaves are discarded.
The following are the health benefits attributed to matcha tea:
- May aid in lowering the risk of developing cancer, most especially in the brain, cervix, bladder and prostate.
- Said to help decrease the risk of heart attacks.
- Thought to help reduce the risk of strokes.
- Could help combat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and rheumatism.
- Believed to assist in cleansing the body of harmful toxins.
- Perceived to help fight the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.
- Considered to strengthen immunity and therefore combat viruses and bacteria.
- Claimed to enhance mood, sharpen concentration, as well as calm the nerves.
- May help lower the risk of cognitive impairment for adults and thereby lowering the risks for Alzheimer’s disease.