What is Matcha?
There is matcha hype around all of the health benefits of Matcha, but what even is that vibrant green powder we love to add to our smoothies and lattes? Matcha green tea is a powerful polyphenol which contains many antioxidants, amino acids and phytochemicals, which have been studied for a wide range of health promoting properties.
Match has a rich history, being traced back all the way to the Tang Dynasty in China, which spanned the 7th-10th centuries. During this time, the Tang Dynasty steamed the leaved to form them into bricks, which made trading and transporting their tea harvest easier.
Matcha is a variety of green teat that is said to contain higher amounts of antioxidants than traditional green tea alone. Matcha is grown and prepared differently than other green teas, most importantly the whole leaf is consumed when using matcha. This provides higher levels of certain antioxidants and caffeine, as opposed to green tea.
Matcha and green tea both come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is native to China, however, matcha is grown differently from green tea and is less exposed to sunlight for roughly 20-30 days prior to harvesting (which is part of the reasoning behind its higher antioxidant properties). After the plant is harvested, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves, which are all then ground up into a very fine, very bright green powder, which we know and love and refer to as Matcha.
Drinking matcha has become a ritual for many cultures and many people. In traditional Japanese cultures, matcha ceremonies include making the tea with a bamboo spoon (known as a shashaku) and mixed into a heated tea bowl referred to as a chawan. Hot water is then added to the bow and the tea is whisked with a bamboo wisk called a chasen, until it gets all nice and frothy.
Matcha has gained popularity for its abilities to support brain health, heart health and mood in particular. Matcha tea contains caffeine, L-theanine, and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which have demonstrated benefits on mood and cognitive performance.
Since matcha is more concentrated due to the entire leaf being used, there are generally higher levels of antioxidants which have been shown to reduce free radical damage. Catechins in particular are a specific kind of antioxidant found in matcha and green tea (known as EGCG), which has been shown to reduce inflammation, and promote cellular health.
Matcha and green tea have been shown to improve various cardiovascular markers, such as oxidation of LDL cholesterol, triglyceride levels and blood sugar levels.
Matcha also contains an amino acid known as l-theanine, which can promote relaxation and concentration. L- theanine can possibly increase alpha brain waves, which deal with mental relaxation, as well as increase various neuromodulators that can support mood, concertation and memory.
Matcha and green tea are rich in polyphenols that have been studied for reducing inflammation. The main catechin in matcha and green tea (EGCG), may prevent cellular damage, particularly by reducing the formation of free radicals.
The caffeine found in matcha can support healthy metabolic function as an added bonus!
How Can I Get More Matcha Into My Life?
For those who aren’t the biggest fan of having matcha tea parties every day, a great way to increase your consumption of this power antioxidant is as easy as snacking on our Blueberry Matcha Protein Power Ball. Matcha by itself can have a rather bitter and earthy taste, so we have made it delicious and easy to add into your daily routine! In addition to the antioxidants each ball provides 3 grams of plant based protein to keep your body fueled and support overall health!
By Brianna Diorio, M.S., FDN-P