Zen Buddhist monks know a lot about living long, unstressed lives. One of their secrets: drinking matcha green tea. Although people drank green tea in China more than 1,000 years ago, it also became an important part of the Japanese culture. They named the specific green tea made from the powdered leaves of the “camellia sinensis” plant – matcha. The tea leaves are grown in the shade to increase chlorophyll content and then handpicked, steamed, dried and ground into a fine green powder. Zen and matcha became inextricably bound together as a perfect choice, to stimulate presence of mind, mental alertness, and a calm, meditative state simultaneously.
Fast forward to current times and the profound physiological benefits of matcha are now being proven by modern science, as more and more groundbreaking studies on the health benefits of green tea are published.
Even dedicated coffee lovers are ditching their double shot, lattes in favor of matcha. Why?
- Matcha is made from high-quality tea, and the whole leaves are ingested so it’s a more potent source of nutrients than regular steeped green tea. In addition to providing small amounts of vitamins and minerals, matcha is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which have been tied to protection against heart disease and cancer, as well as better blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and anti-aging. Another polyphenol in matcha called EGCG has been shown in research to boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.
- If you are looking for caffeine, consuming whole leaves in matcha, gives youthree times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea, about the amount in a cup of brewed coffee. Best part though is that you will not feel a speedy rush of caffeine. Matcha lovers say that it creates an “alert calm” due to a natural substance it contains called l-theanine, which induces relaxation without drowsiness.
- Matcha has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone known to drive appetite and increase belly fat), lower inflammation (a known trigger of premature aging and disease), curb impulsive eating, lower blood pressure, and boost self-esteem and compassion.
- Matcha tea can lower the LDL “bad cholesterol” significantly, according to a
2011 study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
- Studies show that this green tea, rich in catechins, has thermogenic properties that promoteweight loss and also show that exercising immediately after drinking matcha can result in 25% more fat burning during exercise.
HOW TO HAVE THE BEST MATCHA EXPERIENCE
Matcha green tea is available as a concentrated powder and can be found at health food stores. It is best to go with organic matcha, because it is produced without any artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. It is also best to buy unsweetened matcha and only add sweetener if needed.
Do not add matcha green tea powder to boiling water because it will taste too “grassy.” Boil the water and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding the tea. And tea experts warn that with matcha quality is key and fresh, pure matcha is on the expensive side but well worth it. A low price tag can be a red flag for a poor quality product.
If you’re not drinking matcha green tea yet, now is the time to try this metabolism-enhancing, stress-reducing, immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, cancer fighting, anti-aging tea!