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Matcha is a kind of green tea that gained its popularity in recent years. But most of us are not aware of its amazing health benefits. Like all other green teas, Matcha is also derived from the plant Camellia Sinensis, but it is rich in more antioxidants and nutrition, due to its different harvesting methods.
Studies have proved that drinking a cup of Matcha is equivalent to drinking ten cups of regular green tea in terms of nutrition as the whole tea leaf is consumed while drinking Matcha. Drinking a cup of Matcha green tea daily is healthy and also beneficial to our bodies. This article will take a look at the origin, history, and Matcha health benefits.
How Is Matcha Harvested?
The harvesting process of Matcha is mostly similar to that of any regular tea except for its unique production procedure. Growing good quality matcha requires a proper environment, soil, topography and skills of the farmers.
The process begins 20 days before harvest time when the trees are kept under a shed to keep them away from the sunlight, which makes them rich in chlorophyll and changes other nutritional balances. Therefore there are so many benefits of Matcha.
These leaves are then handpicked one by one to ensure the best quality and the bad ones are taken out. The first tea picking, also known as Hachijuhachiya, begins in Mid-May; only the young and green ones are picked up. The second flush begins again after 40-45 days.
The steaming process is where the tea leaves are air-dried, making them lose moisture and preventing oxidization. Over 20% of the total weight of the leaf is lost during this process. Next, these tea leaves go through a de-veining and de-stemming process where all its stem are removed, giving them the finest texture. This is called the Tencha.
The tea leaves are stone grounded into a fine powder in the final stage, having a smooth texture, vibrant green in colour that is finally dried and packed for sale.
History of Matcha
The history of Matcha can be trailed to a long period ago during the time of the Tang Dynasty between the 7th to 10th centuries. It dates back to when the tea leaves were steamed and let dry to form tea bricks that were easier for transportation and storage.
Matcha was discovered during the 12th century by Myoan Eisai, a Buddhist monk who spent his days in China and popularized preparing powdered Matcha tea in Japan as he recognized the fact that Matcha not only improves meditation sessions but has other benefits as well.
Later on, a new method of Matcha cultivation was developed by the Zen Buddhists by producing Tencha. Matcha soon became popular in Japan for its amazing nutritional benefits, and to date, it is intensively used in Japanese tea ceremonies called “Chado”.
Japan- The Best Quality Matcha
The Zen Monks first discovered the art of drinking Matcha. Matcha amazingly enhanced their focus and steadiness during meditation. Since then, Matcha tea is being used during Japanese tea ceremonies. Matcha is found in Japan even though Matcha originally belongs to China because of its sophisticated farming and harvesting techniques.
Japan is popular for its tea production and is the largest producer of the highest quality Matcha green tea. Matcha tea is produced in several regions of Japan. Still, the Matcha produced in the Nishio City of Achi and the Uji City of Kyoto is considered the best quality in Japan. These two areas are the top producers of the tea accounting for around 80% of the total tea produced in the country.
Grades of Matcha
Matcha can be classified into different grades based on their appearance, texture, colour, processing and many other stages of its production. Lower grades are mainly due to insufficient shading, incomplete de-stemming or de-veining, or poor packing storage. Matcha is mainly categorized into two grades Ceremonial grade and culinary grade.
1. Ceremonial Grade
The Ceremonial Grade matcha is mainly used for drinking purposes only but can be used for other recipes. This tea is prepared from the youngest tea leaves with veins and stems properly sorted out, giving it a smooth texture and vibrant colour. This is the highest quality matcha green tea that is also used for Japanese tea ceremonies.
2. Culinary Grade
The Culinary Grade matcha is also of good quality mainly used to cook and bake that can be drunk. It is used for making matcha lattes and smoothies. It is slightly bitter in taste and is less sweet if compared to the Ceremonial grade matcha. It is slightly less green in colour and has a gritty texture.
Steps to Make a Perfect Cup of Matcha and How Much to Drink?
Making a cup of Matcha is very easy. Drinking a cup of green tea daily is good for our bodies, and it is rich in various nutrients. While making a green teacup, one must always choose the most premium grade: ceremonial green tea.
Take one teaspoon of the fine powdered green tea in a cup or bowl then add a little amount of pre-boiled water which is not more than 70-80 degrees heat and mix it into a paste. Then adjust the amount of water according to choice and whisk it away until a creamy, foamy texture forms on the top, then drink it when it’s finally ready.
Even though many Matcha health benefits, a person drinking it might still have side effects as different people have different tolerance levels for caffeine intake. As matcha is rich in caffeine, it is recommended not to drink it before sleeping if the person has a low tolerance level. One can try drinking it in small quantities if not sure of his capacity. Matcha can be drunk in various ways, but the best way to use it is by mixing it in water.
Top 8 Matcha Health Benefits
People are often curious about the benefits and the purpose of the different forms of green tea. Both the regularly available green tea and the Matcha variant are derived from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis; Matcha has a higher nutritional value than the former type. Let us now look at the different Matcha health benefits.
1. Rich in Antioxidants
One of the top Matcha health benefits is that it is highly rich in antioxidants that help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals and stabilize the molecules produced in our body. It is also rich in an antioxidant called Catechins a group of phenolic compounds that acts as natural antioxidants and helps prevent cell damage in our body.
A study showed that Matcha has 137 times more antioxidants than any other food. According to The ORAC ( Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) test, Matcha has been shown to measure 1384 units per gram, which is the highest ORAC value found in any other food even more than blueberries; It is thus considered a superfood.
2. Matcha is Good for the Heart
There are a lot of Matcha health benefits. Another one of them is that the tea is also perfect for the heart. Studies have shown that drinking Matcha helps lower the risk of strokes, attacks and other heart diseases.
It is a piece of medical advice given by dietitians and nutritionists to include green tea in our daily diet. The catechins present in matcha help in curing diabetes, hypertension and heart-related diseases.
3. Matcha Helps in Fighting Cancer
Matcha has many health benefits. The tea is rich in EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) a type of catechin with cancer-fighting properties that helps prevent cancer. EGCG also protects our body from the harmful UV rays that protect our skin from having a harmful skin diseases. Studies have shown that the antioxidants in Matcha help in curing and preventing Bladder, Breast, Prostate and Colon cancers.
4. Improves Cognitive Function
Another important point of many Matcha health benefits is that it helps in improving cognitive function. It improves attention and other psychomotor functions. It also helps in faster neural responses that promote our concentration and improve our day-to-day activities.
The caffeine present in Matcha at inappropriate levels helps in improving cognitive functions. Still, the tea is also rich in L-theanine-an amino acid, which helps our body process caffeine and slowly releases the caffeine in our body, making our minds calm and relaxed. It helps us remain focused, controls our stress and is also why we don’t feel the same jitteriness we get while drinking coffee.
5. Matcha Helps in Improving Metabolism
Studies have shown that the antioxidants present in Matcha can also help improve the metabolism of our body by boosting the rate of calorie burn that ultimately helps in weight loss. Thus this can be concluded as one of the many Matcha health benefits. The EGCG, along with L-Theanine, plays an important role here.
Drinking green tea also helps in boosting immunity. The L-Theanine present in matcha provides us with energy and keeps us active throughout the day. Matcha also helps in fast muscle recovery and cures cell damage by increasing the body’s energy expenditure and fat burning.
6 Matcha Helps in Detoxification.
Matcha is good for our liver and also helps in the detoxification of unwanted toxins in our bodies. Matcha has a high amount of chlorophyll present in it, removing toxins and maintaining our body’s blood pressure. The chlorophyll present in green tea also helps clean our digestive system and maintain a proper blood supply in our body. Thus this is one of many other Matcha health benefits.
7. Matcha is Used for Skincare
There are many Matcha health benefits, and one of them is its use in the daily skincare routine. It has been scientifically proven that Matcha helps in wound healing and removes scars and blemishes. It helps in faster skin repair and protects our skin from UV rays preventing redness of the skin. The Chlorophyll present in the tea makes our blood rich in oxygen, helping in the skin’s healing process.
L-Theanine present in it improves neurological functions and decreases the inflammation of our skin. Matcha has several other components that help in reducing wrinkles and fast aging, giving us glowing skin. Matcha can be used as a mask or moisturizer or as both. It is recommended to use matcha face masks that can be kept for 15 to 20 minutes.
If we include Matcha in our regular diet, we will be able to get all these Matcha health benefits. It is recommended to properly look for the texture and the vibrant green colour of the powder while purchasing Matcha green tea.
Frequently asked questions:
- Yes, matcha is safe for everyday use. The most important aspect to be aware of when it comes to how much matcha you consume is its high caffeine content. As with coffee, you should drink (or eat!) matcha in moderation, listen to your body, and avoid caffeine later than mid-afternoon
- While coffee and match both have their own health benefits, matcha is better for you overall and has fewer potential side effects. It’s gentler on the body and is good for you in so many different ways.
- A recent study has found that Matcha has been found to help manage the symptoms of PCOS in overweight and obese women, including; weight management, decreased insulin resistance and decreased free testosterone levels.