If you’ve started to see matcha tea popping up in coffee shops but aren’t sure what it is, you’ve come to the right place! This Japanese tea is continuing to gain popularity around the globe and offers health benefits for a longer and stronger life.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is basically the “whole food” version of green tea. Derived from the Camellia sinensis (green tea) plant, matcha is made from the whole tencha-strain leaves which are dried and ground for use in teas, supplements, and even cosmetics.
Once the chosen tea of traditional Buddhist monks, matcha has become known throughout the world in recent decades and is being offered more and more frequently on the list of coffee-alternative lattes alongside chai and other tea lattes. If you go to a particularly health-conscious café, you might even see matcha cheesecakes and pastries on the menu!
A Nutrient Powerhouse
Due to the fact that matcha uses the whole leaf, a much stronger and wider variety of nutrients can be obtained from the tea when compared to green tea. Considered by many as a superfood, matcha is rich in antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.
Matcha powders are classified into different “grades.” These grades separate matcha batches by color, aroma, and taste. Even though “ceremonial” grade may sound much more potent and pure than “industrial” grade matcha, the nutritional impact of these grades are very similar. The main difference between these variations is in the uses for which each lot is most suited. So don’t worry too much about the grade of your matcha because it’s all nutritionally good!
How Matcha Can Help You Live Longer
Because we want to live our long years with plenty of health to enjoy them, right?
One of the fastest ways to accelerate the aging process is stress. It affects your mind, your emotions, and your physical body. According to research, people who live with long-term stress tend to put on more weight, have poor digestion, and suffer from an impaired immune function. Stress can also put you at higher risk for heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and vision and hearing problems. It’s no wonder that anti-stress practices like guided meditation apps, aromatherapy, yoga, and adult coloring books have taken off in popularity in recent years!
Not a pretty picture, for sure! However, by lowering your stress levels, you can slow this process down for a longer, healthier life. Matcha tea has a fascinating effect on mood and mental health: it actually makes you more focused without winding you up. To get a little more technical, a natural chemical in matcha called L-Theanine has a relaxing effect that can help to fight stress and anxiety while increasing your concentration. And while matcha does contain some caffeine, the L-Theanine works to temper caffeine’s effects so you can enjoy the mood boost without the jitters.
Thanks to superfood marketing and breakthroughs in the anti-aging skincare industry, most of us now know about the importance of antioxidants. A key agent in fighting free-radical damage in the body and the skin, antioxidants can help to prevent wrinkles and sun spots after UV exposure. They can also support good heart health and strengthen the body against infections and some forms of cancer. From blueberries to the ultra-trendy acai, wine and beyond, there are so many ways to be getting your antioxidants, you have no excuse not to be indulging!
Over two decades, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institute of Health (NIH) worked to develop a system for ranking the highest antioxidant-containing foods. This system tests the in vitro antioxidant capacity of a food and measures this in Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) units. When taken as a tea, matcha has the equivalent nutritional profile of ten cups of brewed green tea. Ceremonial grade matcha was even measured to contain 1384 ORAC units! That’s more than raw lemon or white grapefruit juice and just a little bit less than acai powder.
According to the NIA, unregulated inflammation in the body can contribute to the aging process in a number of ways. Firstly, chronic inflammation is implicated in conditions such as cardiovascular disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes. Secondly, it contributes to wasting processes such as osteoporosis, muscle wasting, and general frailty. If we want to live a longer and stronger life, reducing and regulating inflammation in the body is an important key.
In matcha and green tea, we find a specific class of antioxidants known as catechins which have been shown to possess anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, and anti-aging properties. The primary catechin is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which was found in a study to be more abundant in matcha tea than in standard green tea!
While results are not entirely conclusive, a UK study indicates that staying within a healthy weight range can mean a four-year difference as far as life expectancy. In this study of nearly 2 million people, it was found that being either overweight or underweight at age 40 (calculated using each person’s body mass index) could cost the average person between 3.5 and 4.5 years of life. Who would have thought living longer could be a benefit of going to the gym!
If you fall on the higher end of the scale, drinking matcha tea could turn out to be your new best friend. A study conducted with 35 obese adults showed that drinking four cups of green tea each day for two months helped them to lose more weight than a placebo. Another trial involving 10 men showed an increased burning of calories throughout the day after drinking green tea extract in the morning. With matcha being even more potent than green tea, one cup of matcha tea a day could give you a great metabolism boost!
Choose the Highest Quality Matcha for Best Results
As you can see, matcha supports health in a host of ways and can help to keep us feeling and looking younger. If you’re keen to get started with matcha, make sure to source your powder from a company that uses shade-grown plants and ethical trade agreements so you can feel good about your purchase!