With a history as rich as its flavor, matcha is a versatile tea with both medicinal and culinary applications. Read on to learn how matcha can help you live a healthier, more relaxed life.
Before matcha tea, green tea was a highly treasured medicine dating back to the Tang Dynasty of China in 800 AD. Only the elite could access this prized resource. Matcha emerged in the Song Dynasty when Zen Buddhist monks discovered the art of crushing green tea leaves and mixing the powder with hot water in a bowl. This ritual would later evolve into the traditional Japanese tea ceremonies that carry on to this day.
Differences Between Matcha and Green Tea
Matcha and green tea both come from the plant Camellia sinensis. You’ll often find green tea leaves in bags, while matcha exists almost exclusively as powder ground from green tea leaves. The grinding ensures that you get all the health components of the leaf when drinking. And because it’s so concentrated, you can use significantly less matcha to achieve the same potency as green.
Green tea leaves usually sit in the sun for longer before being bagged and processed. This is the opposite of matcha bushes, which are shaded to preserve the levels of chlorophyll and vital nutrients. As a result, green tea often tastes grassier, while matcha carries a richer flavor profile. Matcha also contains more caffeine, making it a great way to kick start your day.
Matcha tea is prepared solely by mixing one scoop of matcha powder with hot water (roughly 175 degrees Fahrenheit) in a bowl. Using a manual or electric whisk helps remove lumps and create the proper frothy consistency. The tea can then be consumed as is or turned into a matcha latte with the addition of steamed milk and a sweetener like sugar or honey.
Ceremonial grade matcha is designed for whisking in hot water, while culinary grade matcha is designed to be added to lattes, smoothies, baked goods, desserts, and other culinary concoctions. Ceremonial grade matcha is typically higher quality and more expensive, but you can’t go wrong with either.
Matcha Tea Nutrition
While matcha and green tea contain the same nutrients, matcha boasts much higher concentrations, with the highest quality powders containing over 10 times the antioxidants as green tea leaves. Matcha tea’s diverse nutrient profile includes antioxidants, polyphenols, and amino acids. One of these amino acids, L-theanine, is highly regarded for its calming properties. Multiple studies support the role of L-theanine in reducing stress and anxiety, improving focus, and decreasing blood pressure. It’s no wonder that matcha powder has been a historical staple in healing for millennia.
The premier polyphenol in matcha tea (and to a lesser degree in green tea) is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Research supports EGCG’s protective properties, especially in the context of cancer. Catechins in matcha also boost metabolism, aiding in weight loss. Specially formulated matcha supplements can help the body recover after hard exercise. Matcha’s protective properties may also help protect against liver damage.
Matcha tea’s antioxidant properties make it a great addition to your skincare arsenal. Drinking matcha tea regularly may help reduce signs of aging and mitigate acne, rashes, and other types of skin inflammation. The chlorophyll in matcha naturally works to flush out irritants like heavy metals and free radicals, helping preserve youthful skin.
Whether you choose matcha tea or green tea, you’re drinking an antioxidant-rich beverage that can help you move, think, and feel better. For best results, make sure to choose high-quality matcha powder or green tea leaves prepared with care.