Drinking green tea from steeped leaves has often been recommended as a part of a healthy diet, but a more potent form of green tea is becoming increasingly popular around the world. Matcha is a form of green tea made by grinding whole, dry tea leaves into a bright, verdant powder. This means that the whole leaves are being ingested and it is a more potent source of nutrients compared to steeped loose leaf tea. All matcha is made from ‘shade-grown’ tea leaves, which is a process where the green tea bushes are sheltered from the sun and light is filtered through in a very controlled manner. This process boosts the chlorophyll production in the plant. Chlorophyll is the element that gives green tea and other plants their classic, rich green color, and it is a powerful detoxifier. Matcha powder is filled with nutrients, antioxidants, and a number of health benefits, including:
- pure clean, jitter free energy- through a form of caffeine called theophylline that is slow to release and recharges and builds energy in a sustainable way.
- improved detox and regeneration: through chlorophyll, which cleanses the blood stream, removes heavy metals and other toxins in the body, liberating its capacity to repair, regenerate and rebuild.
- curbed cravings, improved metabolism: matcha has been proven to rev up metabolism, up to 4 x the average rate, burn fat and keep hunger at bay.
- strengthened the immune system: through its nutrient profile, such as Vitamin C, and it’s innate ability to clear certain bacteria, fungi and viruses, through its antimicrobial properties.
- calm, focused mind: through l-theanine, an amino, studies to create alpha waves, which lead to a state of calm alertness, clarity and concentration.
- relaxed body: matcha has many benefits on physiology, including its ability to relieve tension, stress and inflammation- which in this case, have been studied to regulate heart health, weight issues, mood and many other disorders.
- plus, it’s filled with nutrients and powerful antioxidants, including EGCG, 10 x more than green tea.
Antioxidants are your body’s natural defense agents. They are chemical compounds that prevent chronic diseases and help with anti-aging. The more antioxidants that your body has, the better equipped your body is in the fight against infections and disease. Matcha green tea contains a potent class of antioxidants called catechins. Specifically, matcha is high in a type of catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg). Over 60% of the catechins in matcha green tea are EGCg, and can help maintain your body’s fundamental health and balance. Matcha can also support weight loss, as it is nearly calorie-free, and EGCg’s have been shown to boost metabolism. Primarily, ECGc and other catechins help fight off the effects of free radicals from factors such as pollution, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, and harmful chemicals (Weiss, 2003).
Modern science has also found that matcha contains L-Theanine, a rare amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation by acting upon the brain’s functioning. It helps slow down the heartbeat, reduces blood pressure, and decreases the severity of stress- all while improving focus, attention and concentration. L-Theanine does so by inducing resting state alpha wave activity in the brain without causing drowsiness due to uninterrupted theta waves (Williams, 2016). Because of this, L-Theanine has significant impacts on regulating mood, motivation, cognition, and even memory. Green tea is known to have the most amounts of L-Theanine: one cup of green tea contains anywhere from 25 – 60 mg of this amino acid. Matcha is known to have the highest concentrations. The shade growing process that mitigates the photosynthesis in the leaves also preserves the L-Theanine and other amino acids.
Quality Varies + Matcha Storage
Matcha is grown in various regions across Japan and is commonly sold in two different grades:
Ceremonial grade is the highest quality matcha from carefully cultivated leaves – this grade matcha is given the most attention to detail during the preparation process to provide the freshest and smoothest ground matcha with the most delicate flavors. The prized grade uses only the youngest and highest quality leaves. This grade is meant to be enjoyed on its own- you don’t need to add sweeteners or other flavor enhancers to enjoy and appreciate its intended taste.
Culinary grade matcha has a more sharp and bitter taste- it may include ground leaves that still had some stems attached and culinary grade may be a duller green color than ceremonial grade matcha. It may also often include a mix of matcha powder from several sources. This is a wonderful matcha to mix with sweeteners, milk, and a great ingredient to use for baking or cooking for its color and flavor.
It is important to note that matcha is best enjoyed as soon as possible after its production because exposure to oxygen and light will slowly start to degrade the color and taste. The best way to store matcha powder is in an airtight container and placing it in a cool, dark place. The ideal airtight container would be nontransparent or dark in color to help prevent exposure to light. For extra protection, you could put the airtight container inside of another bag. Matcha powder should be a vibrant green color, but as it starts to degrade, its color will diminish to a brownish-green color. The age of matcha will surely affect its taste.
Storing your matcha in the fridge can prevent heat damage if you live in a hotter environment, but note that tea (especially matcha) will quickly absorb strong odors, including leftovers in the fridge. Without proper precautions, your matcha could end up tasting like your leftover steak! To prevent this, we recommend storing matcha under multiple layers in an airtight container (as mentioned above).
Furthermore, storing tea in the fridge can create humidity-damaging effects because as the cold tea comes into contact with the warmer air in your house, it produces condensation- introducing the tea to freshness-damaging moisture. One solution to this is to take the tea storage out of the fridge (keep the lid closed!), and let it sit for several hours before opening it to prepare your matcha.
In short, storing your matcha in the fridge (not the freezer) is fine if you care for your tea properly!
Matcha, Mindfulness, and Meditation
Matcha, mindfulness, and meditation have a long-standing history together. Japanese Buddhist monks found that consuming matcha helped them focus and remain alert during their long hours of meditation. The combination of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and amino acids provides the mental boost typically associated with caffeine, but does not create the same jittery energy as coffee does, which can sometimes lead to hyperactivity and distraction. These positive mental boosts hold at steady levels before slowly decreasing, preventing any sort of ‘crash,’ as coffee is known to do. As a natural stress-reliever, matcha tea can also make the body feel more relaxed and supple. Will you take inspiration and use matcha as part of your daily meditation routine?
A Traditional Japanese Ritual
In Japanese culture, the matcha green tea ceremony has been an essential symbol of peace for centuries. It is a quiet celebration executed with beauty, respect, and grace. Today, the level of etiquette may vary from one ritual to another, but matcha ceremonies generally follow a similar series of events and use of tools. In the ceremony, there will be several tools present:
- A small bowl, “chawan”
- A bamboo whisk, “chasen”
- A tea scoop, “chashaku”
- A linen cloth, “chakin”
- A hot water thermos
- An extra water vessel used for cleaning
The host of the ceremony (called the “teishu”), brings all of these objects into the room, along with the matcha powder itself. Using graceful movements, the host will clean the tools in front of guests and highlight the importance of each tool. Then, the host will prepare a bowl of tea by whisking together hot water and matcha powder with the bamboo whisk. Once the tea is made, the tea bowl is exchanged with guests, who will admire and rotate the bowl before taking a sip. The guest should wipe the rim of the bowl before passing it to the next guest, who repeats the same procedure until the bowl is passed to the last guest, who in turn, gives it back to the host of the ceremony. The ritual is then concluded with a bow.
Every movement, and every moment of a traditional Japanese matcha tea ceremony has a meaning and purpose. This tea ritual is a social bonding experience of mindfulness and staying focused on being in the present moment. It is an occasion for everyone involved to relax and enjoy themselves away from the worries of the outside world.
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Green Foods Matcha Green Tea Energy Blend is a ceremonial grade matcha organically grown and hand-picked in its native Japan, and is one of Green Foods’ customer favorites. The powder easily dissolves in either hot or cold water, and is ultimate in both taste and aroma. For maximum health benefits and flavor, Green Foods recommends mixing 5 grams (approximately 2 teaspoons) into 6-8 ounces of cold or hot water. This product is grown in Japan, dairy-free, certified vegan, gluten-free, non-GMO, soy-free, and USDA organic.
A Simple, 3 Ingredient Recipe
Here is an easy Matcha Maca Latte that only has three ingredients!
- 1 tablespoon of Matcha
- 1 teaspoon of Maca
- 1 cup of Nut Milk (I prefer unsweetened vanilla hemp or almond)
Some additional ingredients to consider:
- Flower Remedies: I love to use the Lotus Wei Elixirs as they act as a ritualistic later and a slight sweetener.
Instructions: Blend the ingredients of your choice together, then heat up on the stove (never in the microwave), or serve over ice!
A Matcha Made in Heaven
To recap, matcha comes from the same plant as green tea, but it is made by grinding the entire leaf into a powder, packing a more concentrated amount of antioxidants, and beneficial plant compounds. Many studies have revealed various health benefits associated with consuming matcha, including weight loss, creating a more focused mind, detoxifying the system as a whole, eliminating toxins, and much more.
I personally use Green Foods Matcha Green Tea Energy Blend, a ceremonial grade matcha, to help detoxify, energize, and rejuvenate the system as a whole. If you would like to try Green Foods products, I have a 35% off coupon that can be applied automatically using this link, or by entering the discount code LETSGROW35 at checkout. I can’t wait to hear how you enjoy your matcha green tea, and would love to hear your favorite way to make matcha! You can connect with me on Instagram at @drbrookestuart, and you can also connect with Green Foods on Instagram at @greenfoodscorp.
Weiss, D. J., & Anderton, C. R. (2003). Determination of catechins in matcha green tea by micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Journal of chromatography. A, 1011(1-2), 173–180. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0021-9673(03)01133-6
Williams, J., Kellett, J., Roach, P., McKune, A., Mellor, D., Thomas, J., & Naumovski, N. (2016). l-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Beverages, 2(2), 13. https://www.mdpi.com/2306-5710/2/2/13