Matcha tea is certainly among the new wave chiefs when it comes to hot drinks with some folks drifting away from coffee to get their caffeine kick by drinking matcha shots. For some of you who don’t exactly know what matcha tea is, it is a special form of Japanese green tea which has been at the heart of the famous Japanese tea ceremony for over 900 years. Back in the day even samurai martial arts warriors drank matcha green tea before fighting due to its energising properties and not only does it taste great – it provides you with numerous health benefits and is considered one of the healthiest beverages around. We’ve covered this subject before, however we’ve had several requests for extra information, so while there may be some overlap, there’ll be more detail -you spoke and we listened, so here are Top 8 Health Benefits of Matcha Tea! (Extended).
First, here’s a little you might find useful on how it’s produced before we head into the extra good-stuff…
Matcha tea is harvested and handled with great precision and care and before harvested the tea plants are actually shaded from sunshine which triggers growth of its nutrient-rich leaves which thus enhances flavour and texture. Each leaf is hand selected and briefly steamed to stop fermentation. It is then dried and aged which creates greater depth in flavour and the dried leaves are then stone ground into fine powder. The tea is traditionally made by mixing a teaspoon of matcha powder with a third cup of hot water (not boiling) which is then whisked with a bamboo brush until it froths.
Matcha tea is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols which helps protect against heart disease and cancer, improves blood sugar regulation and is also anti-aging. A polyphenol in matcha called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) has been shown to boost metabolism, improve the immune system and slow the growth of cancerous cells. The EGCG’s also help to fight nearly all types of cancer by stimulating the cancer cells to self-destruct. Scientists have found that matcha tea contains over 100 times more EGCG than any other tea on the market. Furthermore one bowl (serving) has as many antioxidants as ten cups of brewed green tea and provides over five times as many antioxidants of any other food, matcha tea emerges unparalleled such comparisons.
2. Weight loss
Matcha is a great addition to any weight loss program with it being calorie free and as mentioned above drinking it boosts metabolism which helps the body to burn fat about four times faster than average. Matcha does not put any stress on the body and does not raise blood sugar levels which makes it a great alternative to pharmaceuticals and other diet aides which are ridden with side effects. A study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming matcha green tea can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8-10% of daily energy expenditure, to between 35-43% of daily energy expenditure!
Before the matcha tea leaves are harvested, the tea plant is covered to deprive them of sunlight which causes a huge increase in chlorophyll production – ten times more chlorophyll than any other plant. This gives the tea its vibrant green colour and as well as being a powerful detoxifier (which helps with wound healing) it aids the body to eliminate and flush out chemicals and heavy metals from the body by maintaining the alkalinity of blood and tissues.
4. Mental alertness and calmness
For centuries Buddhist monks consumed herbal teas like matcha to promote a state of calmness whilst meditating, yet remaining alert. This is due to an amino acid called L-Theanine that possesses anti-anxiolytic (anxiety inhibiting) properties which promote the production of alpha waves in the brain. This induces mental clarity while remaining focused and attentive. A study conducted on theanine suggests that it acts as a neurotransmitter which exerts a calming effect on the brain without causing any drowsiness; something evident in most pharmaceutical products. While this amino acid is common in all teas, matcha contains up to five times more L-Theanine than other black and green teas. Another benefit of L-Theanine is that it causes the production of dopamine and serotonin. These two chemicals have scientifically been shown to enhance mood, improve memory, promote better concentration and improved motor function. The caffeine in matcha called Theophylline (not to be mistaken with the one present in coffee) sustains energy levels without adverse effects providing a slow release of energy which also helps the functionality of your adrenal glands maintain healthy hormonal levels. This is of inestimable value if you lead a busy and stressful lifestyle!
5. HIV and infections
EGCG is also efficient in the prevention of HIV and helps protect the brain of HIV patients. Matcha has an anti-HIV-1 effect by preventing the binding of HIV-1 glycoprotein to the CD4 molecule on T cells (T lymphocyte). In other words HIV attacks the CD4 molecules on T cells (produced by the thyroid gland) which promotes HIV and EGCG prevents this attack and binding from happening. This prevention/blocking helps in the treatment of HIV and AIDS. EGCG’s are also anti-inflammatory, anti-viral and antibacterial which helps in fighting against bacterial, viral and fungal infections by inhibiting the activation of white blood cells.
Other health benefits…
6. Fights aging
Matcha green tea is bursting with antioxidants which help fight free radicals which are atoms that have an unpaired electron. In a process called oxidation, free radicals take electrons from other molecules such as fats and proteins and in turn alters the chemical structure of the affected molecule. Oxidation is harmful to your the body as it causes a chain reaction by damaging cells and, over (a surprisingly short) time contributes to aging and other diseases. Free radicals forage through the body in search of electrons to be stable and antioxidants either accept or donate an electron. This helps the body in many ways by slowing the process of aging. Scientists have carried out many studies and have concluded those who drink five cups of matcha per day significantly reduced the death rate from heart disease and stroke thus prolonging life in a natural and healthy way.
7. Dental health
It’s quite rare to find a food or drink that helps with dental well-being, however drinking matcha green tea can improve dental health and prevent tooth decay. Matcha prevents cavities in the teeth because it makes the saliva less acidic. This also lowers the chances of dental plaque and stabilises bacteria in the mouth, its anti-inflammatory properties also maintain gum health and can control periodontal disease as well as protect the teeth from cancerous cells and slow the progression of oral cancer. Drinking matcha tea can also purify and detoxify breath by eliminating the bacterial microbes in your mouth and is seen as more efficient than mints and parsley seed oil.
8. Combats diabetes
In the case of diabetic patients consuming matcha tea can prevent diabetes from progressing as it improves insulin sensitivity as well as reducing hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar levels). According to a study conducted on Japanese subjects, drinking matcha tea lowered the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 42%. Matcha also inhibits fat deposits around your organs and abdominal area which has a positive impact on all metabolic deficiencies that lead to Type 2 diabetes. It helps with weight loss as it can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) whilst reducing fat storage in the body which in turn assists in preventing and fighting diabetes.
Though the key benefits are explained above, the advantages of drinking matcha tea appear virtually endless. Matcha has superior health benefits as compared to other green teas as it is the only tea where the entire leaf is dissolved in water, providing the maximum benefits of the natural components present. Not only does matcha tea provide such powerful advantages it has numerous culinary uses. It’s used to flavour chocolates, cakes, coffee drinks, milkshakes, ice creams and desserts such as Matcha Panna Cotta which is served in the restaurant I work at. I’ve created my own matcha tea beverage which I’ve simply named ‘Hulk’, because it’s exactly that, a powerhouse to good health and strength. We conclude that drinking matcha tea really does do wonders for your body! What’s your view on matcha or perhaps you’re a connoisseur of other teas? Let us know below or @ KeepFitKingdom !