This one of those blog posts that I have been meaning to write for an absolute age.
I have become a huge lover of Matcha and drink it near enough every morning now and I am now also providing it for all of our lovely guests to try out when they come on retreat with us. I wanted to tell you lot about the benefits of drinking it. But instead of writing it out myself I thought it would be better to get someone on who really knows much more than I do.
Matcha is a powdered green tea that is chock-full of antioxidants (more antioxidants than berries, leafy greens and nuts) and gives you a longer energy boost than coffee. I asked Kelly-Anne, mama of two and owner of my favourite matcha brand MYcha, to talk to you about matcha tea, its benefits and why it’s worth spending a little more on a quality matcha.
Over to you Kelly-Anne
It’s always best to start at the beginning – so, here goes…
I first tasted matcha in 2008 while visiting a friend in Japan. But like everything, it’s all about timing. At the time, I was taking a year out, living it up and loving life. I enjoyed the experience of trying matcha, but didn’t feel the need to replace my regular brew with it. So, drinking matcha didn’t actually become part of my daily routine until much later. When, as a new mum juggling family and work, I just felt like I was running on empty. Drinking coffee left me feeling anxious and restless, and that’s when I decided to make the switch.I knew about matcha’s health benefits from my time in Japan and started incorporating it into my diet. Needless to say, I haven’t looked back.
So, what is matcha?
Used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha has remained a well kept secret for centuries. It literally means ‘powdered tea’ in Japanese, sounds simple doesn’t it? But there’s a lot more to matcha than that.
Matcha tea comes from the same plant that all true teas come from, camellia sinensis. But the unique way that it is farmed, produced and consumed is what sets it apart from other teas, and gives it its superfood status.
Twenty days before harvest, matcha tea plants are shaded from direct sunlight. As a result of being shade grown, matcha tea leaves retain a beautiful green colour along with an incredible amount of nutrients, including antioxidants, amino acids, caffeine, chlorophyll and fibre. Once harvested, the leaves are rid of their veins and stems and laid out to dry. They are then carefully stone-ground into what is finally matcha powder. And because with matcha tea powder you consume the ground tea leaves directly, rather than discarding them like you would with tea bags, you’re drinking every bit of that lovely green good stuff.
You can buy lots of green tea powders for cooking and drinking but true matcha comes from Japan and is produced in this very unique way. Think of it like wine — where and how it’s made matters. You can buy matcha in different grades, each grade is determined based on its colour, texture and quality, and each also has different uses.
Ceremonial grade is the highest quality, it is handcrafted from the most nutritious first harvest tea leaves – a very labour intensive process.Ceremonial matcha is expensive, so if you see a cheap one don’t be tempted because it’s unlikely to be a true ceremonial grade Japanese matcha tea powder.
How is drinking matcha good for you?
Matcha boasts a long list of health benefits, but is most prized for the following:
It contains less caffeine than coffee but with matcha the caffeine is absorbed and released slowly by the body over a period of 6-8 hour. It’s also rich in L-Theanine, a special amino acid, that is proven to promote concentration and focus. So, unlike coffee, matcha won’t over stimulate you with a big (but short-lived) burst of energy. It’ll leave you feeling truly energised, productive and ready to win the day.
More importantly for some, matcha is also an excellent way to add the powerful health benefits of antioxidants to your everyday diet. Like Emma pointed out in the intro, matcha tea is chock-full of them. Antioxidants are the body’s defence agents, they are chemical compounds that prevent ageing and chronic diseases.
You’ve probably read that drinking green tea can be good for you, so imagine matcha being 137x better for you! Matcha has 137x the amount of antioxidants and 3x the amount of catechins called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) – an antioxidant linked to fighting cancer, viruses and heart disease – than other kinds of standard green tea.
Here’s how the levels of antioxidants found in matcha compare to other superfoods.
|ANTIOXIDANTS IN MATCHA (IN GRAMS)|
Another great health benefit, especially for those struggling to maintain a healthy weight, is that drinking matcha tea is proven to boost your metabolism. A study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that it can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8%-10% of daily energy expenditure, to between 35% and 43% of daily energy expenditure. The slow release of caffeine and sustained energy levels also means that you won’t be feeling so tempted to reach for those unhealthy snacks throughout the day.
Why did I set up MYcha?
Unfortunately, there are lots of companies selling culinary grades as ceremonial. Some that sell cheap chinese knock off “matcha”. I’ve seen it in premixed blends and even seen it in tea bags (it doesn’t come in tea bags). When I started drinking matcha regularly, I ran into this problem a lot. So I used my Japanese friend to help me source authentic, organic matcha teas and MYcha was born.
You see, if you want to reap all of matcha’s health benefits you need to be consuming quality matcha powder. I always stick to organic matcha. It’s the only way to ensure that I’m reaping all the health benefits, while freeing myself of any nasties that could be found in a non-organic matcha.