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Matcha tea with spoon and whisk / image source: Oregon Sports News

Matcha brings ritual and a myriad of health benefits. What’s not to like?

If you’ve been to a coffee shop or tea emporium recently, you’ve probably seen matcha on the menu. You may have even heard that matcha has more caffeine than coffee — yet is still incredibly healthy. From weight loss to cancer prevention, matcha is being hailed as a secret weapon to wellness.

Matcha is different from regular green tea. Instead of steeping the tea leaves in hot water, they are ground into a powder so you are actually consuming the leaf itself. Unlike traditional green tea, matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This improves the flavour and texture of the leaves. The shade also increases the amount of chlorophyll content in the leaves, which is what makes them bright green and full of nutrients. Leaves are steamed to stop fermentation, dried, and aged in cold storage.

Is there any scientific proof that matcha can do everything from lowering blood pressure to increasing metabolism? There have been a number of studies that demonstrate that matcha can reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease. This is due to the concentrated amount of antioxidants. Catechins, an antioxidant in matcha, may help reduce blood pressure — and is considered especially effective if your upper number is 130 or higher.

And what about the claim that matcha produces the boost of caffeine without the jitters? Because you’re consuming whole leaves, you may get three times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea — about the amount in a cup of brewed coffee. Matcha releases caffeine slowly in your bloodstream so you’re less likely to experience a sudden rush of energy … or the inevitable crash.

But is matcha tasty? Some people actually don’t enjoy drinking matcha because they find it grassy-tasting, grainy, and bitter. They may also find the texture, which can be paste-like, difficult to swallow. Others aren’t bothered by the taste and enjoy matcha in teas, lattes, smoothies, and even in energy balls.

If you are a tea lover or interested in trying match for its benefits, start by having a beverage prepared for you. If you like the taste, you can invest in a matcha whisk, frother, or maker (a tube where you can shake and then drain the tea through a sieve). These pieces are essential for making matcha at home because you cannot just add the powder to hot water. Matcha needs to be prepared. And for many people, it’s worth the ritual and the health rewards.


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