Just a decade ago, most of you had probably never heard of matcha. Fast forward to 2022 and matcha has become extremely popular in countries across the world.
From matcha tea to matcha lattes to matcha desserts, there are lots of delicious foods and drinks that contain this Japanese green tea powder. You only have to walk into your local health shop or take a look online to find at least one product that contains matcha!
Just like green tea, matcha comes from a plant called Camellia sinensis. However, the growing conditions are a little different and that’s what gives matcha its unique taste and great nutritional content.
Matcha tea plants are grown out of direct sunlight for around 20-30 days just before they are harvested. The idea behind this is to encourage the plant to increase the chlorophyll production in the tea leaves. This leads to the leaves having a high and diverse amino acid profile. It also gives the leaves a lovely dark green tone.
After harvesting, the tea leaves are ground into a fine powder. It’s this powder that’s we consume when we’re drinking a cup of hot matcha tea or buying a delicious matcha latte from the local coffee shop.
Health Benefits of Matcha
Aside from taking great, matcha also offers a range of health benefits. From its high antioxidant contents to its diverse amino acid profile, matcha has been shown to protect the heart and improve liver function.
If you don’t already consume matcha tea, you’ll definitely want to invest in some matcha pods or buy some matcha desserts after you’ve read this article! Here are seven of the many amazing benefits of the matcha tea plant.
High Antioxidant Content
Oxygen free radicals are a by-product of the metabolic processes that occur in your cells. These oxygen free radicals can cause damage to your DNA. Over time, this can increase your risk of developing a range of diseases, including cancer.
Antioxidants are plant compounds that protect your cells from oxidative damage by neutralising the free radical molecules. Adding matcha powder to your tea, coffee, or foods boosts your antioxidant intake and keeps the oxygen free radicals to a minimum.
Matcha is high in catechins, which is a form of antioxidant that belongs to the flavonoid family. One study confirmed that the catechin (antioxidant) content in matcha tea is 137 times higher than in other forms of green tea.
In particular, matcha is high in a flavonoid called rutin. This flavonoid has been shown to reduce inflammation and boost immunity, as well as reducing cellular oxidative damage.
Enhanced Brain Function
Matcha has been shown to boost brain function in a number of studies. Participants exhibited improvements in reaction time, memory, and attention span after consuming matcha compared to those who did not.
Since caffeine is a known mental stimulant, the cognitive boosting effects of matcha tea come as no surprise. Matcha has a higher caffeine concentration compared to other forms of green tea, with around two grams (75 mg) of caffeine per teaspoon of matcha powder.
Alongside its caffeine content, matcha also contains an amino acid called L-theanine that is commonly found in tea and mushrooms. L-theanine has been shown to boost mental clarity and increase focus when taken with caffeine.
L-theanine also has anxiolytic and stress-reducing effects. However, unlike with many anti-anxiety medications, L-theanine exhibits these effects without causing drowsiness.
Increased Weight Loss
Green tea extract is a common component of many weight loss products. This is due to its ability to stimulate metabolism and increase energy expenditure.
Having a faster metabolism can lead to increased fat burning and weight loss, especially when consumed alongside following a regular exercise regime.
Thanks to the naturally occurring caffeine in matcha tea, you can get a physical and mental boost, which fuels your workouts and leaves you feeling great. Studies confirm that its fat-burning effects were higher in participants who consumed standard matcha compared to the decaffeinated matcha.
The metabolism-boosting and fat-burning benefits of matcha also come from its ECGC (epigallocatechin gallate). ECGC is a polyphenol that has been shown to activate genes that are responsible for the breakdown of fats.
Enhanced Heart Health
Consuming matcha tea regularly can improve your cardiovascular and this is shown in a range of observational studies.
It enhances your heart health by reducing the number of low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) in your bloodstream. LDLs are a form of triglycerides (fats) that contribute to the build-up of plaques in the artery walls, which is a major risk factor for atherosclerosis and heart disease.
Matcha can also increase the levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDLs), which have the opposite effect to LDLs and help to decrease plaque formation. It can also prevent the oxidation of LDL compounds in the blood, which can further boost the health of your cardiovascular system.
Improved Liver Function
Some studies suggest that regular consumption of matcha can improve the health of your liver and reduce the risk of liver damage or non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
This is likely due to the antioxidant effects of matcha. The reduction in oxidative stress inside the liver cells improves their function. The same may be true for the cells in the pancreas too.
Matcha can decrease the levels of liver enzymes in your body. Usually, a high level of liver enzymes indicates that it is functioning sub optimally or that there is some liver damage present.
Although further research is required to confirm the effects of matcha green tea on reducing the risk of liver disease, the existing studies are showing promising results.
Reduced Cancer Growth
Many studies have shown that the polyphenols found in green tea possess anticancer properties. One study in rats showed that breast cancer tumour size decreased upon administration of green tea extract.
In particular, some studies have indicated that ECGC is the most effective chemopreventative polyphenol that is present in green tea. ECGC may be most effective against breast, prostate, skin, liver, and lung cancer.
Despite many of these studies being performed on animals, the results are still an exciting look into the incredible chemoprotective potential of matcha tea.
It’s Easy to Consume
Matcha latte may not be your first choice when you visit your local coffee shop but you can’t deny that matcha tea and coffee drinks taste great!
One of the amazing benefits of matcha is how easy it is to consume. You don’t even need to go to a coffee shop to enjoy matcha! You can make it in your home using compostable matcha Nespresso pods or by mixing 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder wit boiling water. If you want to make your matcha green tea extra strong, you can add an extra teaspoon or two. You could then add milk to make a matcha latte.
If you want to add extra flavour to your matcha tea, you can add lots of other ingredients too, including cinnamon, cocoa powder, ginger, vanilla extract, or a variety of flavoured syrups. Similarly, matcha can be a component of your smoothies and shakes too.
And you’re not limited to tea and coffee, either. You can add matcha powder to your favorite food recipes, including breakfast pancakes and waffles or delicious desserts.
The maximum tolerable amount of matcha varies from person to person. If you’re new to trying matcha green tea, start off with a smaller dosage and work up from there to avoid any potential negative side effects.
If you purchase matcha pods, they will contain a standard amount of matcha per pod, so they might be a great place to start for those of you who aren’t sure how much matcha to consume.
Despite coming from the same plant as many other forms of green tea, matcha has an enhanced nutritional profile because it is made using the entire leaf of the plant.
With the higher antioxidant contents, higher levels of caffeine, and more diverse amino acid profile than other green tea products, matcha is the perfect option when you’re trying to boost your health.
Matcha tea has so many great health benefits and it tastes great. There are so many easy ways to consume this matcha powder, including in tea or coffee, shakes, desserts, and more.
What makes matcha even easier to consume is the variety of matcha pods that are compatible with Nespresso machines. You can pop one of these pods into your usual coffee machine and have a delicious and healthy cup of matcha latte within minutes.
Here at Rejuvenation Water, one of our most popular products is the Nespresso-compatible Matcha Energy Health Pods. Made with premium grade Japanese matcha, plant-based prebiotic fiber, eight essential B vitamins, and 64 mg of natural green caffeine, the Energy Health Pods not only taste delicious but they are also great for your health.
By Alex Warmisham ANutr - Nutritionist at Rejuvenation Water