It is well known among tea and coffee drinkers that green tea is the champion among all hot beverages for its high antioxidant levels and other health benefits. These antioxidants are not only good for your heart health, they also boost your brain function. Now, a “new” star is rising to knock green tea off its pedestal. It’s name is matcha.
Just what is matcha? It is a powder made from young green tea leaves that are dried in shade for two to four weeks and then harvested.
Because matcha powder is shaded while dried, the chlorophyll levels are protected and as a result, the antioxidant levels shoot through the roof. After harvesting, the matcha is steamed, dried and ground up with a stone grinder. Thus, when you make matcha tea, you are actually consuming the entire leaf.
According to Dr. Mariza Snyder, author of “The Matcha Miracle”, matcha has tens times more the amount of antioxidants than regular green tea. In addition, it is high in chlorophyll, which Snyder says is like blood for a plant. Chlorophyll is extremely detoxifying.
The tea itself has a similar flavor to green tea.
Matcha hails from Japan. Once upon a time, only samurai, royalty and Buddhist monks were allowed to drink it. In fact, samurai would drink matcha before a battle to get energy. Matcha can provide 4-6 hours of energy and will not result in a crash like coffee.
Traditionally, matcha is prepared by gently whisking it with around 3 ounces of hot, but not boiling water. (You don’t want to use boiling water, because you want to leave the antioxidants intact). Matcha comes in different grades. “Ceremonial” grade is delicate and should be consumed as a single shot – either hot, cold or with milk. “Culinary grade” matcha on the other hand, has a bolder flavor and can even be put in smoothies and baked foods.
While it is more expensive than normal green tea due to its labor intensive production process, matcha is worth it to your health. Its’ antioxidant levels 14 times higher than that of wild blueberries. These antioxidants can do a host of important things in your body, such as boost your heart health, lower your cholesterol, improve your concentration and prevent cancer and type 2 diabetes. Matcha also contains L-Theanine, which is an amino acid that could improve your mental alertness. You only need one cup of matcha a day to experience its health benefits.