Green tea had held its spot as the healthiest beverage in the urban world for quite some time only to be dethroned recently by the powerful matcha. Another member to join the exclusive category of superfoods, matcha tea is a heavyweight when it comes to health benefiting properties. Though touted as an ancient Japanese drink, it actually hails from China where it has been an age-old practise to prepare powdered tea by steaming tea leaves and then roasting and pulverizing them. The Zen monks popularised the tea in Japan whereon the upper class took to using matcha and considering it an elixir to good health. Today, health enthusiasts across the globe use it as the much needed energy boost to go about their day.
Matcha tea refers to specially prepared ‘powdered tea’. Usually, when we prepare green tea, we tend to brew the leaves and then discard them to obtain the liquor, but in the case of matcha, you need to add a teaspoon of the powdered tea into half a cup of hot water, stir it until it froths a little and then consume it. This way, you get to make the most of all the nutrients present in the leaves.
So if you thought that your regular cup of green tea was good enough for you, here’s something even better. Presenting five reasons as to why you should get your hands on matcha –
1. Antioxidant Fix
We have heard experts list out the benefits of green tea, saying that it is a powerhouse of antioxidants, polyphenols and flavonoids that not only boost immunity but also protect us against cough and flu, and aid in maintaining a healthy heart, cholesterol level, weight management, keeping a check on our digestion as well as combating diseases like diabetes and cancer. In the case of matcha, since we get 100% of all the nutrients in the leaves, it gives us an antioxidant dose which is about 135 times more than the regularly brewed green tea. In comparison to other ingredients, its antioxidant content is six times more than goji berries and seven times more than dark chocolate. These antioxidants make it an elixir to long life.
2. Superior Flavour
The manufacturing process of matcha is different from that of regular green tea, and this is the reason which makes it so much better in terms of flavour as well. The selected tea plants are grown in the shade, and only the best young leaves are plucked, which are then steamed, deveined, dried and ground into a fine powder. The tea powder is also stored very carefully, keeping it away from light and sealing it from oxygen so that the vibrant green colour and the essential nutrients are preserved. Matcha is considered to be the highest quality of green tea available. However, the sharp bitter note takes some getting used to.
3. High Energy
If your morning needs to start with a caffeine kick then matcha is what you should be drinking. According to Japanese legend, the samurai worriers used to have matcha tea before going for battle because it used to give them the much needed energy boost. It is said that a cup of matcha provides you three times the caffeine dose as compared to a regular cup of green tea, almost equal to one cup of coffee but without the harmful effects. Matcha contains an amino acid called L-theanine which brings about a relaxed state of mind by promoting the production of alpha waves in the brain, but without the feeling of drowsiness. It in fact promotes a sense of alertness.
4. Detoxification & Weight Loss
Since the production process of matcha tea keeps it shielded from sunlight in an attempt to preserve all the essential nutrients in the leaves, it has high levels of chlorophyll. The high amount of chlorophyll not only gives it the brilliant colour but also helps in cleaning toxins from the body naturally. The high dose of antioxidants also helps in fighting against free radicals which could lead to cancer in the long run as well as clearing plaque from the arteries, thus preventing heart ailments. Moreover, research has found that polyphenols – catechins, EGCG - has fat burning properties, and they also prevent the formation of new fat cells. No wonder fitness experts recommend matcha as a pre-workout drink to help burn extra calories during the exercise regime.
5. Immunity Booster
Because matcha is antioxidant rich, it is also an immunity booster. Studies haves found that the catechins present in it show antibiotic properties, thus helping the body fight against various microorganisms. Matcha is also a powerhouse of vitamins and essential minerals such as potassium, iron and calcium which collectively work for the proper functioning of the body, regulating blood pressure, cholesterol level, and nerve activities.
Disclaimer: Some studies have revealed that matcha could also contain lead, although not in alarmingly high level. It is therefore recommended only for adults and not children. Pregnant women should consult the doctor before consuming.