Matcha is a fine, high-quality green tea powder used for a variety of purposes. Grown exclusively in Japan, this stuff is definitely not something you'll come across for a penny or two a gram. It's got this slightly bitter taste that doesn't turn you away. Instead, it's rich and mysterious taste will draw you in and not let you go until you finish things up. Matcha is the type of green tea served in formal ceremonies in Japan.
The Japanese characters used for matcha are:
and this mean “ground tea” if we take them literally.
It neither looks like nor tastes like any other kind of tea. It looks like hallucinogenic green cocoa, behaves like the perfect espresso, and tastes like baby green vegetables that might have been cooked by Tal Ronnen or Jamie Oliver, served in a small cup.
Matcha is used mainly in formal tea ceremonies in Japan, but don't need to formally “study” tea to enjoy it. Just make . . . make yourself a cup and you'll see.
Matcha has many special features, but the top 4 are probably:
- Form of the tea leaves. Unlike all other teas, including green teas, matcha is finely ground.
- No steeping. Matcha isn’t steeped, it’s “eaten.” You simply pour hot water over the powder, froth it (either with a special handheld bamboo whisk or an electric milk frother), and drink the thick tea.
- Matcha is full of naturally occurring antioxidants and amino acids; roughly 20 times those of regular green tea.
- It’s A LOT like really good wine. The conditions in which it’s grown is crucially important, Matcha has a balanced acid structure with a very long finish, and it pairs perfectly with food.
What's the difference between regular green tea and matcha?
If there is a difference between matcha and regular green tea, it's got to be the texture and the taste. Regular green tea is steeped in hot water, while matcha is literally mixed into the water. Heck, even preparing drinking matcha has its own ceremony: chanoyu.
Are there any other ways that matcha is served?
Interestingly enough, matcha has some pretty creative uses aside from tea-drinking. You have cakes, pastries, candies, sweets, heck even some lattes and prepared meals have this green tea powder in them!
Matcha Health Benefits
What's the difference with regards to health benefits?
The good thing about that is that matcha has even more benefits as drinking ordinary green tea. That's because no fermenting takes place. The only thing that happens is that the process of selecting tea leaves, grinding them and serving them differs between regular green tea and matcha.
Here's a brief list of benefits you get from drinking matcha:
- Antioxidants research by scientific bigwigs points out that green tea, and especiallly matcha, has high amount of the catechin polyphenol epigallocatechin gallate in it. In English, that's the stuff that prevents cancer cells from forming in the first place as well as killing them off when they do form up into tumors.
- Cholesterol Control research again shows that matcha helps reduce the cholesterol absorption in your intestinal track. That means two things: weight loss and a healthier heart. Of course, no amount of green tea will help you if you literally chug down cholesterol in all its oily forms. But it will sure help you stay alive and healthy if you drink around three cups of green tea a day.
- Research show that green tea and its green tea powder matcha help reduce the amount of sugar your body absorbs as food passes through. That's why diabetes patients are often advised by their doctors to drink green tea to help slow down and prevent the passage of sugar into their blood stream.
- Green tea and even more so, green tea powder has a lot of chlorophyll in it. This chlorophyll helps absorb heavy metals and other nasty toxins floating around in your blood. So if you're a recovering alcoholic or a retired chain smoker who is now concerned about recovering your health, matcha and green tea is one way to help your body flush out what poison you've accumulated in your body for years.
- Sitting down with a cup of matcha for five minutes and enjoying the taste and texture of the green tea powder may be one thing that will help keep you healthy. You've got to take care of not only the brain, but your mind as well.
Matcha and L-Theanine
L-theanine increases concentration and focus.
For over a thousand years, Matcha has been used in Japan as an aid in long periods of meditation. The monks then used to drink Matcha to stay warm but still calm. Matcha is rich in L-Theanine which is a rare amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation and well-being, by acting on brain function. While stress can induce beta waves, creating an exciting and upsetting state, L-Theanine alpha waves bridle to a more relaxed peace of mind. L-Theanine is common in all teas, but in Matcha it can contain up to five times more of this amino acid than regular black and green teas.
Other benefits are that L-Theanine helps memory and learning and the ability to inhibit all possible side effects from caffeine, a natural component of green tea. A cup of Matcha increases your concentration and clarity of mind without adding stress factors found in coffee.
Premium Japanese matcha powder can be thought of as a partner in health, nature’s most concentrated source of both L-theanine, and some of the most potent antioxidants in the world.
So there you have it: a quick run down of the green tea powder known as matcha. Now you know why the Japanese are so fanatical about their green tea.
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