Green tea is associated with several health benefits such as lowering blood pressure and reducing stress. Does this mean that Matcha, which is green tea in high concentrations, is twice as healthy?
What is Matcha?
Tea is a popular drink across the entire world. It is made from using hot water to extract the components of leaves from the plant called Camellia Sinensis. Depending on the extent to which the leaves are fermented, tea is categorized into white, green, black and oolong teas. Matcha is a type of green tea. It has existed for several hundred years, if not thousands. In order to make Matcha, the tea plant requires shadow for a few weeks before the leaves are harvested. This allows a slower growth, which gives the leaves extra boosts of chlorophyll and antioxidants. The leaves are dried then crushed into powdered. This process is also done slowly to prevent the temperature of the leaves from becoming too high. It can take as long as one hour to prepare as little as thirty grams dried leaves.
How is Matcha Enjoyed?
Traditionally, Matcha powder is used as a tea drink where the powder is mixed with hot, but not boiling water. The amount of powder used varies with personal preferences. The more powder, the stronger the flavor. ½ – 3 teaspoons are commonly used per cup of tea. Milk or sweeteners can be added and stirred into the drink. In Japan, Matcha is commonly used in pastries, cold drinks and warm drinks including Matcha latte, milkshakes and smoothies. This trend is increasing in multiple other countries as well.
What does Matcha Taste Like?
It should be of no surprise that Matcha, which is green tea, tastes like green tea. However, in comparison to other types of green teas where you use hot water to extract the tea components from a small tea bag, the crushed Matcha leaves are stirred into the water which makes the leaves part of the drink. This makes Matcha cloudy compared to other clear teas.
How Healthy is Matcha?
Green tea is known to contain a variety of polyphenols, catechins and other antioxidants. There is a significant high amount of the polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in green tea, which is assumed to have special properties beneficial to health. In addition, green tea contains caffeine and an amino acid named L-theanine, which has relaxing properties without giving tiredness.
There is scientific evidence that green tea has several health benefits. Green tea has been found to lower blood pressure, reduce the risk of certain cancers, improve blood lipid profiles, reduce stress and increase memory and concentration. Some studies have also shown that green tea can improve metabolism. Despite the clear consensus of the health benefits of green tea, less studies have been conducted on Matcha specifically. When consuming Matcha, the tea leaves are ingested, which makes Matcha higher in concentration of polyphenols, catechins, L-theanine and caffeine than traditional green tea. One can therefore assume that Matcha contains the same positive health effects as green tea, but in higher dosages.
Is More Always Merrier?
When it comes to foods, drinks or supplements more is not always merrier. It is known that drinking too much green tea can result in liver damage (five cups of green tea are considered safe for most people). Additionally, high doses of antioxidants as supplements can result in more harm than benefits. To this date, not enough scientific studies have been conducted on the health effects of Matcha. Pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding are advised to not consume the drink due to the potential interactions with medications, the reduced iron absorption, lead toxicity, and liver damage if consumed with paracetamol. People with liver disease and small children should also be careful with consuming large amounts of green tea. The conclusion of Matcha is therefore to be consumed and enjoyed in moderation!
Nutrition Facts per 100 grams:
Energy: 203 kcal
Fat: 5 grams
Protein: 30 grams
Carbohydrate: 31 grams
If 1-2 grams of Matcha powder is used with hot water for one cup of tea, the drink will only contain 2-4 kcals. If milk or sweeteners are added, the total nutrition content will be influenced by the type and amount of milk or sweetener added.