There is a reason why Boosterjuice coined it’s amazing matcha smoothie, Mind over Matcha.
Dr. Oz swears it burns pounds. Rachael Ray adds it to champagne. Chefs around the world are adding it to dishes ranging from noodles to ice cream. Green tea continues to grab headlines for its long list of health benefits – and matcha, its powdered form, is stealing the spotlight from the traditional brew for its ability to magnify those benefits tenfold.
Green tea has gone mainstream for its well-documented supply of antioxidants and catechins – powerful phytochemicals that reduce oxidation, calm stress and shore up the immune systems’ ability to fight a wide range of health conditions including cancer and diabetes. Green tea is less processed than black tea, which means it contains a heftier dose of these healthy ingredients, which is why nutritionists recommend drinking two or three cups a day.
But brewing tea leaves in hot water means that the only phytochemicals available are those that seep into the water from the soaking leaves. The bulk of green tea’s key nutrients remain in the leaves themselves, which are usually thrown away. Matcha salvages those nutrients and ramps up the healing powers of green tea by making them all directly available – even in a variety of foods.
What is Matcha?
Matcha means “powdered” and matcha tea is simply dried green tea leaves, ground into a fine powder that can be brewed and drunk, or added to drinks, desserts and cooked foods. Because matcha contains the entire tea leaf, it makes all the nutrients in the leaf itself immediately available without dilution. One cup of this green powdered tea contains the nutritional equivalent of ten standard cups of green tea, which makes it an ideal choice for anyone who doesn’t find the prospect of downing three cups of green a day possible or appealing.
What Does Matcha Do?
Matcha tea benefits echo those of green tea in general, only magnified thanks to its concentrated form. It delivers large amounts of two key compounds not found in other foods: catechins, a type of antioxidant only found in tea leaves, and the rare amino acid L-theanine, which boosts concentration and memory.
Green tea is rich in a compound known as EGCg, short for epigallocatechin gallate, which prevents damage to cells and nerves from the damage done by free radicals that cause oxidative stress. It can stimulate immune responses and keep the body’s systems in balance – and matcha delivers this compound, as well as other helpful plant chemicals, in highly concentrated doses.
Matcha Calms the Mind
It’s said that for centuries Buddhist monks drank matcha during long sessions of meditation to remain calm and focused, and now science shows why. Matcha contains large doses of L-theanine, a little known amino acid that both calms the mind and enhances concentration and focus.
Matcha supports the “relaxed awareness” that is the cornerstone of meditation and mindfulness practices. Even the act of preparing and drinking a cup can help to ease stress and help users remain in the present moment – a time honored remedy for stress and anxiety. Although green tea in its natural form does contain some caffeine, matcha promotes alertness and focus without causing the jitters associated with caffeine consumption.
Matcha Aids Mindfulness
Matcha is a part of Japanese tea ceremonies and for good reason. The L-theanine in matcha that aids mental focus also supports mindfulness, and so do rituals of all kinds. Matcha, and the simple act of brewing and drinking it, encourages participants to slow down, pay attention to details and remain present in the moment, free of regrets about the past or fear of the future. This kind of mindfulness meditation helps to ease stress and calm anxiety, and matcha’s amino acid content helps to sustain that alert, yet relaxed state of mind.
Matcha Promotes Alertness and Energy
Though it may seem contradictory, matcha also supports mental alertness and energy to get things done without the nervousness and rapid heartbeat that can come from drinking enough coffee to get a similar effect. Matcha does contain caffeine but at significantly lower levels than coffee, and it’s the L-theanine and catechins in matcha that support that state of calm alertness and increased energy.
And it Even Goes with a Glass of Champagne
Green tea’s reputation for healing is well deserved – but matcha, its lesser- known powdered form, just may be stealing the spotlight for its ability to calm the mind, energize the body and protect against disease. And it even goes with ice cream and champagne – if sipping the green stuff isn’t your cup of tea.
Has matcha green tea added a sense of calmness to your day? Let us know in the comment section below!