Matcha – a Superfood
Matcha is certainly up there among the earth’s ‘Superfoods’. In the world of tea, Matcha powder is unsurpassed in its health promoting nutritional content. Why? When you drink steeped green tea, much of the antioxidants remaining in the tea leaves are thrown away. Up to 75% of the vast nutritional profile of green tea remains trapped in the leaves, never to be consumed. Matcha is made from whole tea leaves that are ground into a fine powder, imparting 100% of benefits of green tea.
Different from other blends, matcha comes from tea leaves grown in the shade. Several weeks into harvesting tea leaves, the bushes are covered to protect the plant from direct sunlight. This slows growth down, and lets the leaves turn a darker green, causing the production of amino acids and overall, a sweeter tea leaf. The finest buds are picked, then laid out to dry in the shade, or indoors, until they become crumbly—at this stage, it is known as “tencha”. Once the tencha is completely dried out, the veins and stems are removed. It is then stone-ground into a fine powder that is known as “matcha.” This painstaking process can take hours to make a small amount of matcha powder, but yields exceptional quality and taste as well as the vibrant rich green color that is characteristic of higher-grades of matcha.
Rich in Antioxidants
Epigallocatechin-gallate (or just EGCG) is the polyphenol compound of green tea that gives it its powerful antioxidant properties. Matcha contains a much higher concentration of EGCG per serving than does steeped green tea.
1 cup of regular green tea: 20 to 35 mg EGCG
1 serving of matcha: 120 g EGCG
Health promoting benefits of EGCG:
• Cancer prevention and anti-tumor activity
• Promotes weight loss by increasing fat metabolism
• Protects against cardiovascular disease
• Inhibits atherosclerosis
• Lowers triglycerides
• Lowers bad cholesterol (LDL levels)
• Reduces blood pressure
• Promotes a healthy immune system
ORAC values Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity is a value that indicates the antioxidant power of a food.
Comparison between Matcha Green Tea and other antioxidant-rich foods (on a per gram basis)
Source: Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Lipophilic and Hydrophilic Antioxidant Capacities of Common Foods in the United States
Increases energy, Reduces stress and Induces a calm, wakeful alertness
Matcha contains high levels of l-theanine, an amino acid that is associated with a relaxed and peaceful state of mind, along with enhanced mental clarity and focus. Research has shown that l-theanine induces alpha brain-wave activity, which is also observed during meditation. In fact, matcha was first used by Zen monks to enhance awareness during mediation practices. The l-theanine content of matcha is 5 times greater than that of steeped green tea, making it a great choice for an afternoon energy boost or a natural stress reliever.
Japanese tea ceremony
Matcha tea is the center of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. This artistic ritual of preparing and serving Matcha tea has its roots from 12th century Japanese Bhuddist monks. The tea is meant to be prepared with predetermined movements, and with lots of passion—the process is less about drinking the tea itself than its preparation and service.
For a traditional hot preparation, use ½ teaspoon of matcha powder per cup of water. The water should be at a temperature of about 175oF (or water that has been left to cool for a few minutes after boiling). The chasen is the traditional bamboo utensil that is used to whisk the mixture into a frothy, creamy texture.
Simply blend 1 teaspoon of matcha powder per cup of steamed milk to create a smooth, rich and healthy latte drink. Sweeten as desired.
Blend a spoon or two of matcha powder into a fruit smoothie for an antioxidant boost to your morning.
Shanti Tea’s matcha comes from 100% Japanese premium green tea. The leaves are shade-grown for 3 to 4 weeks prior to harvesting, a process that brings out the natural sweetness and aroma, retains higher amounts of l-theanine and antioxidants, and results in superior quality and exquisite taste.
How do you take your Matcha? Let us know with a comment below!