Matcha is enjoying a massive boom in popularity, with matcha lattes, teas, shots and even tasty desserts available everywhere from grocery stores to your favorite coffee chains. Matcha is similar to green tea in that it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant, but it contains unique nutrients and involves a different method of growth. To grow matcha, tea plants are covered for 20-30 days prior to harvest in order to avoid direct sunlight. This process gives the plant a darker green shade, boosts the amino acid content and increases the production of chlorophyll. Once the tea leaves are harvested, the stems and veins are removed before grinding the leaves into the fine powder that we know as matcha. Since it contains the contents from the entire leave, matcha contains more nutrients than that typically found in green tea. Here are some of the best health benefits of this tasty, popular drink.
Matcha is rich in catechins, plant compounds found in tea which are some of the best natural antioxidants. These help to stabilize free radicals, harmful compounds which can lead to chronic disease by damaging cells in the body. Adding matcha powder to hot water or milk to make tea or a latte means that you’re getting all the nutrients from the entire leaf, compared to steeping a green tea bag in hot water. In fact, there are up to 137 more catechins in matcha compared to other types of green tea.
Studies have shown that several of the components found in matcha can help to boost and improve brain function. Researchers found that participants who were given matcha tea performed better in attention, memory, and reaction time tasks than those who were given a placebo. In addition, a further small study found that consuming just two grams of matcha tea on a daily basis for two months helped to improve cognitive function in elderly people. There have also been several studies linking caffeine consumption to improved brain function, including faster reaction times, enhanced memory and improved attention. Matcha contains a more concentrated amount of caffeine than other caffeinated beverages. It also contains a compound known as L-theanine, which helps to avoid the energy crash that you can experience after the effects of caffeine. This means that drinking matcha is one of the best ways to stay alert for longer.
Matcha is very rich in a wide range of health-promoting compounds, including many which have been linked to preventing cancer in a range of animal and test-tube studies. In one particular study on rats, green tea extract successfully decreased tumor sizes and slowed breast cancer cell growth. Matcha is particularly rich in epigallocatechin-3-gallatte (EGCG), a catechin with proven powerful anti-cancer properties. Test-tube studies of EGCG have found it to be effective in preventing prostate, liver, skin, and lung cancer. Whilst this is good news for anybody hoping to avoid cancer in the future, bear in mind that further research is needed to determine how these results may translate to humans.
These are just some of the main health benefits of matcha tea! How do you like your matcha? Let us know in the comments.