The Amazing Effects of Matcha Green Tea are Winning Over Coffee Drinkers
More and more people I know are making the switch: from coffee to matcha tea. As a dedicated coffee drinker, this is beyond my comprehension. So, I had to do some investigating.
I found that you don’t have to say goodbye to coffee. There’s room for both. And once you hear more about what’s in a cup of power-packed, nutrient-dense matcha, it’s kind of a no-brainer to make matcha a part of your everyday!
What is Matcha?
Matcha, which means “powdered tea,” is made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a fine powder - that’s where the bright green color comes from.
However, you don’t use just any leaf. “Shade-grown tea” is a big deal if you know tea. When tea bushes are grown under shade, it increases the chlorophyll content of the leaf, which leads to bright green leaves full of nutrients and particularly rich in antioxidants. The matcha tea plant is covered with shade cloths before they’re harvested.
Next, the leaves are hand-selected and steamed briefly to stop fermentation. Then, they are dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The leaves are then very finely stone ground. To protect the nutrients, they are traditionally ground in the dark as well.
It’s a pretty simple recipe for traditional tea: just mix that matcha powder + ⅓ cup of hot water, then whisk (preferably with a bamboo brush) until it froths.
There you have it! You can say this recipe has been around for quite awhile - the origins of matcha can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty in China.
So the Big Difference Between Matcha and Regular Tea?
Matcha means drinking the whole tea leaves. With regular tea, the leaves are infused in the water, then removed. That means that Matcha is incredibly nutrient-dense tea, LOADED with vitamins and minerals galore! Matcha also contains a type of antioxidant called catechins, which are anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial to the body.
So - THIS is why everyone raves about matcha! It’s an infusion of good health in a cup.
But most importantly, the real reason coffee lovers can switch over - there is just about the same amount of caffeine in matcha as a cup of coffee - 70 mg. So, this tea is different from the other teas: black tea is generally 47mg, and green tea is closer to 28 mg.
Ok, things are starting to make sense now.
And even better, the caffeine buzz that comes from matcha is much different from how coffee makes you feel.
It’s a good feeling of “peaceful happiness” or an “alert calm,” and “you get the caffeine kick without the jitters… and without the crash.”
Why? L-theanine- a mighty part of matcha that can help foster a state of calm, attentive wakefulness. The L-theanine alters the effect of the caffeine in the tea, so you feel more alert yet calm (and may also avoid that mid-afternoon crash that coffee can give you).
Let’s Talk About this Hero: L-theanine
L-theanine is an amino acid that induces relaxation without drowsiness, and matcha tea has high levels of it. This superpower ingredient promotes relaxation and facilitates sleep by contributing to several changes in the brain. It does this by boosting calming brain chemicals like GABA and lowering “excitatory” brain chemicals. L-theanine is also an anxiolytic, which works to reduce anxiety, and may even combat depression.
What Else Makes Matcha So Great: Polyphenols!
These are compounds naturally found in plant foods, and they have been linked to LOTS of good outcomes for your body if consumed regularly. They have been shown to increase metabolism for one. In addition to greater fat burning, the great news with this is that your body also gets rid of unwanted toxins faster. The list of their good traits goes on and on: they may aid digestion, improve heart health, prevent blood clots, improve brain function, and more. Studies show polyphenols can promote memory, learning, and cognitive function. An exciting finding is that polyphenols have been positively correlated to a reduced risk of several non-communicable diseases, including Alzheimer's.
Another Hero Hiding in Matcha: EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate)
Well, that’s a mouthful! This stuff is impressive: EGCG is an incredible immunity booster, and it does this by increasing the amount of T-cells that our body produces. For these reasons, EGCG is believed to have cancer-fighting effects on the body. And it is an energy booster - it contributes to the long-lasting energy that matcha can give you, instead of the less steady caffeine surge from coffee.
So Now that We Know Matcha Has Numerous Healthy Properties - How Does it Taste?
So here’s the deal:
No surprise here - it depends on the quality of the tea leaf. High-quality matcha is smooth and not bitter, with a slightly sweet taste. Some matcha can be described as having a bit of an earthy, grassy flavor and vegetal taste marked by bitterness.
For this reason, matcha is often added to lattes, smoothies, and more. This is where you have to pay close attention- your incredible healthy matcha tea can turn into a sugar-laden sweet treat quickly if you aren’t careful!
This is because not all Matchas are created equal- Starbucks matcha latte, with nonfat milk, has 190 calories, 140 mg of sodium, and holy cow: 33 grams of sugar!
So, not so much the purifying immune-booster you would think.
If you want to skip the sugar but are not a huge fan of the robust and earthy taste, a popular option is to whisk matcha and serve it with almond or oat milk. Perfect solution for non-tea drinkers!
The bottom line: straight-up matcha tea with hot water is a cup full of powerful antioxidants and more. There are SO many other ways to consume matcha as well, baked goods and beyond. Just make sure you aren’t getting too much bad with the good!
I love my coffee, but after learning about matcha, now there’s room for both in my life. Maybe yours too!