Matcha and green tea are both from the Camellia sinensis plant but they are cultivated and processed differently. Green tea is usually in loose leaf tea form or bagged. Matcha is a fine powder of pulverized green tea leaves.
In general, green tea is grown in the sun and matcha is shade-grown for two to four weeks before harvest. The shade increases chlorophyll levels in the tea leaves and turns them darker. When it’s shaded for that long, the chlorophyll and antioxidant levels go up, and this changes the profile of the plant. While green tea may have a light, refreshing flavor, matcha tends to be rich, with a stronger, grassy flavor.
Why is matcha better than loose leaf green tea?
When it comes to matcha, the entire leaf, which has important nutritional implications, is consumed when you drink matcha tea.
With loose leaf or bagged green tea, the leaves which contain valuable antioxidants and minerals are discarded after the leaves are infused. Water can only extract a fraction of green tea benefits unless you swallow the tea leaves as well. The majority of the nutrients actually remain unused, trapped in the tea leaves.
As matcha is stoneground tea leaves, it provides you with a powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.
Matcha contains at least 3 times higher in amount of epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) than the largest literature value for other green teas and up to 137 times the amount of EGCG compared with certain brands of green tea, according to research. That’s because matcha tea is composed of the entire leaf and when we dissolve matcha powder in water, we are drinking all the nutrients from the whole leaf. Matcha is a supercharged version of green tea.
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a unique plant compound known for its potential positive impact on health. They act as potent antioxidants that may protect against cellular damage caused by free radicals. EGCG may reduce inflammation and prevent certain chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
Health Benefits of Matcha / Green Tea
Several studies on humans and animals have found that matcha and green tea offer the following health benefits:
Helps with weight loss – Studies show that matcha may help speed up metabolism to increase energy expenditure and boost fat burning.
One small study showed that taking green tea extract during moderate exercise increased fat burning by 17%.
Diabetes management – There are indications that matcha can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. According to one study in Japan, people who drank six or more cups of green tea daily were 33 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes than people who drank just one cup per week.
Prevents Influenza – According to a meta-analysis published in Molecules (from US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health), green tea may be an immune booster which helps to fight both cold and influenza viruses.
Researchers found that not only does drinking green tea on a regular basis help you recover from a cold but may also make you less likely to catch one and could help prevent recurring or new infections. Gargling with green tea may also help, a practice that is common in Japan.
May prevent cancer – Matcha consumption has been linked to the prevention of many types of cancer, including lung, colon, esophagus, mouth, stomach, small intestine, kidney, pancreas, and mammary glands.
May lower blood pressure – A study of 40,530 Japanese adults found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from a heart attack or stroke and a 16% lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.
Treatment of diarrhea and typhoid – The effectiveness of green tea in treating any type of diarrhea and typhoid has been known in Asia since ancient times.
Prevents Helicobacter pylori infection – A 2009 study on mice showed that green tea may help kill and slow the growth of Helicobacter bacteria. The study found that consuming green tea before an infection prevents stomach inflammation. Consuming tea during an infection reduced the severity of gastritis.
Bone health – Matcha consumption has also been associated with increased bone mineral density, and it has been identified as an independent factor protecting against the risk of hip fractures.
Liver health – Matcha and green tea show some promise in reducing the risk of liver disease and preventing liver damage. A meta-analysis found that individuals who drank green tea had a lower risk of liver cancer. The study also found that the longer people had been drinking green tea, the lower their risk.
Brain health and mood enhancer – Matcha tea has gained popularity throughout the world and is frequently referred to as a mood-and-brain food.
Epidemiological studies conducted in Japan have shown that matcha consumption improves cognitive impairment.
Researchers at the University of Basel also reported first evidence that green tea extract enhances cognitive functions, in particular the working memory. The Swiss findings suggest promising clinical implications for the treatment of cognitive impairments in psychiatric disorders such as dementia.
Heart health – The catechins in matcha and green tea may decrease oxidative stress — an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body — and prevent inflammation. They’ve also shown multiple cardiovascular benefits, such as lowering the risk of atherosclerosis, hypertension, and congestive heart failure. Matcha can also help lower triglycerides and levels of LDL (“bad”) and total cholesterol.
Matcha Side Effects
Although matcha has numerous possible health benefits, it still contains caffeine, but lesser than coffee and black tea. If you are sensitive to caffeine, consume matcha products in moderation.
One gram of matcha (about ½ teaspoon) has about 35 mg of caffeine, and most adults can safely consume up to 400 mg of caffeine per day. Therefore, you might be able to have up to 5 ½ tsp, about 10 brewed cups, of matcha per day if you are not sensitive to caffeine.
Pregnant and nursing mothers should limit caffeine consumption to 200 mg per day (the amount in about 3 tsp of matcha). Caffeine is not recommended for young children.
Signs of caffeine overload can include headaches, dizziness, nausea, insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations, and diarrhea.
Ways To Enjoy Matcha
Matcha tea is already a luxury in its most natural form and the best way to consume matcha is in its purest form with no added sugar or cream. That’s the best way to reap all the health benefits that come with matcha. Of course, it doesn’t hurt to enjoy a cup of matcha latte occasionally, with reduced sugar.
Matcha tea isn’t the only way to enjoy this superfood. Matcha can be added to baked goods and ice creams, added to your morning oatmeal, granola, and smoothie, sprinkled onto popcorn, or use your creativity to craft Instagrammable cocktails with this superfood!
If you are not on the consuming end yet, you probably should get on board!
Health Freak Mommy is a content writer under Headliner by Newswav, a programme where content creators get to tell their unique stories through articles and at the same time monetize their content within the Newswav app.
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