Author: Lia Pellizzeri Date Posted:6 August 2019
Have you heard of Matcha? This wonderful ingredient is simply finely ground green tea leaves resulting in a vibrant green powder-like substance brimming with potent antioxidants. The special phytochemicals present in green tea are well-known and very well researched, and while not detracting from the incredible benefits they can provide, the advantage of Matcha is the sheer concentration you get by consuming the whole leaf as opposed to just steeping it.
So you may want to know, how is Matcha processed and is green tea really different from black tea? Well to answer this is simple, green and black tea originate from the exact same plant – the Camelia sinensis. However, the leaves of green tea will be picked and dried earlier and for a shorter time period resulting in slightly varying chemical characteristics.
Tea leaves grown to make Matcha are also shade-grown for the last two weeks to boost chlorophyll levels. They are then harvested, steamed, and stone-ground into a fine powder – a technique said to have begun by Chinese Buddhist Monks but to have been perfected in Japan and used for traditional tea ceremonies.
Did you know?
One cup of Matcha is equivalent to TEN cups of Green tea? When you brew a cup of green tea most of antioxidant properties remain locked in the tea leaves so you are only receiving a fraction of the benefits.
Antioxidant Power House
Although many fruit and vegetables boast major antioxidant status, based on the ORAC score which is basically a measurement of total antioxidant levels and standing for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, Matcha features the highest in these rankings containing more than twenty times the antioxidant capacity of pomegranates or blueberries.
What on Earth is a Catechin?
Good question! Not all antioxidants are the same, they do get lumped under the same umbrella but just like vitamins, each particular one can play a unique role in the body and yield different benefits. Catechins are one such example. In fact they aren’t very common, being found exclusively in cocoa, berries and green tea, they are a phenolic compound accounting for 30% of the weight of green tea and containing large amounts of the specific catechin called EGCG, short for Epigallocatechin Gallate.
This powerful compound helps combat the effects of free radicals from pollution, UV rays, radiation and chemicals, all of which can lead to cell and DNA damage.
Rich in L-Theanine
L-theanine is a rare amino acid found almost exclusively in green tea leaves. In Matcha the amounts are far more concentrated, making its therapeutic value even more pronounced. Modern science has elucidated what the Japanese have known for over a thousand years, where monks would drink matcha to remain alert yet relaxed during their meditation practice – that L-theanine has the ability of inducing alpha waves which promote concentration and clarity of mind.
The presence of this amazing amino acid also negates the ill-effects of caffeine, almost buffering its anxiety/nervous energy causing components to create a state of alert calm, and thereby potentially enhancing memory and learning ability.
Not all Matcha is EQUAL
Make sure you know what you are buying when it comes to Matcha as it is important to source the highest quality tea to ensure you are not only receiving the maximum health benefits but also avoiding the potential nasties such as pesticides and GMO products that can lurk in cheaper imposters.
Two tips to buying great quality Matcha is to make sure it is ‘Ceremonial grade’, meaning it was made by the youngest tea leaves with stems and veins removed to achieve a smooth velvety texture. The second is to know where your tea has originated, the leaves grown in China, India and the surrounding areas may be higher in pesticide and lead residue, whereas Matcha sourced from Japan should be a much cleaner product.
The beauty of good quality Matcha is the lovely almost sweet flavour you get from adding it to a range of food or drinks, making it super versatile!
Yes you can just make a hot Matcha tea, but you can also add it to your milk of choice for a creamy warm latte or to smoothies for an added antioxidant boost. It also makes a fantastic addition to desserts like cheesecakes and ice cream, even cakes and bliss balls can benefit – not only increasing their nutrient value, but adding a unique mild tea flavour and gorgeous green tint.
|Written by Lia Pellizzeri|
Lia is a qualified Naturopath who believes in the power of nature to heal many of today’s acute and chronic conditions. She’s not only passionate about living a healthy lifestyle, but about educating people on nutrition and the amazing benefits of herbs and supplements in addressing symptoms and their underlying issues.
Lia loves to cook, bake and read… when she isn’t busy telling people to enjoy their egg yolks and other healthy fats, she can most likely be found on the lounge with a latte and a tattered copy of Lord of the Rings.