Zen Buddhist monks have long known a lot about the secrets of living long, stress-free lives. One of their secrets is drinking matcha green tea. People have been consuming green tea in China more than 1,000 years ago. Fast forward to today, many physiological benefits of matcha are now being proven by modern scientific research. Even coffee lovers are switching up their cappuccinos and mocha lattes for a great cup of matcha – which while traditionally is a hot beverage, can also be made into an iced beverage.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a specific type of green tea made from the powdered leaves of the “camellia sinensis” plant. It is grown in the shade to increase chlorophyll content of the leaves which are then handpicked, steamed, dried and ground into a fine green powder. Compared to regular steeped green tea, matcha is a more potent source of nutrients because of its high quality and the fact that whole leaves are ingested.
What is the difference between Matcha and Green Tea?
As mentioned, although from the same plant, matcha is nutritionally superior to regular green tea because of the way it is grown i.e. in shade about 20-30 days before harvesting. The increased shade allows the leaves to produce more chlorophyll than regular green tea. Matcha is also harvested differently creating an obvious variation in color, texture, and flavor. The veins and stems from the leaves are also removed before being ground into a fine powder, resulting in matcha having a stronger grassy flavor but a smoother texture over green tea, which some people prefer. All these give matcha tea a higher content of amino acids, polyphenols, and antioxidants.
Matcha tea is a great beverage choice for those seeking optimal health benefits.
Here are 12 good reasons to make matcha green tea part of your regular diet:
Matcha provides a rich source of essential nutrients including vitamin A, C, E, K, and vitamin B-complex and trace minerals including selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium and amino acids. These nutrients help strengthen your immune system, increase energy levels and nourish your body.
2. High in antioxidants
Antioxidants protect your cells and tissues against free radicals due to its epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a health-promoting catechin compound. Its positive effects help reduce your risks of heart disease and cancer, regulate your blood sugar and blood pressure and slows down your aging too. 
3. Source of fiber
Since you consume the entire leaf, you also consume a high amount of easily-absorbable dietary fiber, which is very important for digestive health and stabilizes blood sugar levels.
4. Calming effect
Matcha has been shown to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone known to drive appetite and increase belly fat), lower inflammation (a known trigger of premature aging and disease), curb impulsive eating, lower blood pressure, and boost self-esteem. 
5. Heart healthy
Studies show that the catechins found in green tea (including matcha) are effective at lowering LDL (the bad cholesterol) levels and lower the risk of heart disease. A study showed that taking green tea supplements containing a high concentration of EGCG experienced a 16% reduction in cholesterol levels. [3, 4]
6. Burns calories and helps weight loss
Matcha’s thermogenic properties promote weight loss and fat loss especially when you drink it just before your work-out which can result in 25% more fat burning during exercise. Studies show that the high EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) also increases CCK (cholecystokinin) a hormone that helps you to feel full. 
7. Detoxifies the body
Matcha is an excellent detoxifier which helps to cleanse and maintain the alkalinity of your blood and tissues due to its high chlorophyll content. Its powerful detoxifying effect also has the ability to naturally eliminate heavy metals from your body. 
8. Improves brain function
Many studies have shown that regular consumption of matcha can improve your cognitive abilities, memory, reaction, and concentration power because of its high content of L-theanine and caffeine. [7, 8, 9]
9. Boosts energy
The naturally occurring caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine mentioned above can also give your body a mild boost without the jitters that coffee can.
10. Improves eye health
Matcha contains high amounts of antioxidants that have been shown to be effective in lowering oxidative stress to your eyes. It can also help lower inflammation and reduce your risks of glaucoma and other age-related eye conditions.
11. Protects the liver
Studies have shown that matcha contains active beneficial compounds that can help reduce elevated liver enzymes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 
How much caffeine in matcha?
Consuming whole leaves in matcha gives you three times as much caffeine as a cup of steeped tea or coffee. However, you will not feel a speedy rush of caffeine nor end up with an energy crash thanks to its large catechin molecules that bind with caffeine and slow down its release into the bloodstream. The result is stabilized and prolonged energy-boosting effects.
However, too much of a good thing can also be bad. If you are sensitive to caffeine, too much matcha may still bring on some of the caffeine-related side effects such as headache, irritability, insomnia, heartburn and mild nervousness.
Matcha lovers also say that it creates an “alert calmness” due to a natural substance it contains called l-theanine, which induces relaxation without drowsiness. Theanine is an amino acid (a building block for proteins) used to treat anxiety and high blood pressure, for preventing Alzheimer’s disease, and for making cancer drugs more effective.
Matcha is perfect for yogis and meditators
Matcha is perfect for those who are on a spiritual path because of its ability to stimulate the presence of mind, mental alertness, and a calm, meditative state simultaneously.
The l-theanine in matcha has been shown to markedly reduce physiological and psychological stresses and improve cognition and mood in a synergistic manner with caffeine while promoting alpha wave production in the brain. This is also pretty much what meditation does.
How to have the best matcha experience
Matcha green tea is available as a concentrated powder and can be found at many health food stores. Choose organic to avoid any artificial fertilizers, herbicides or pesticides. Choose unsweetened so you can be in control of the amount of sugar in your diet.
Do not add matcha green tea powder to boiling water because it will taste too “grassy.” Instead, boil the water and let it sit for 5 minutes before adding the tea. And tea experts warn that with matcha quality is key and fresh, pure matcha is on the expensive side but well worth it. A low-price tag can be a red flag for a poor-quality product. Keep in mind that high-quality matcha does not have a bitter taste but rather a slightly sweet one.
There are three ways you can make a cup of matcha tea:
1. Standard – Mix 1 teaspoon of matcha powder with 2 ounces of hot water
2. Usucha – Mix ½ teaspoon of matcha with 4 ounces of hot water
3. Koicha – Mix 2 teaspoons of matcha in 1 ounce of hot water
Everyone has different preferences for mixing matcha tea – it depends on which one is your cup of tea!
If you would like to make your own matcha tea, consider a Matta Latte or simply add matcha tea to your favorite teas.
Here are some other ways to enjoy your matcha:
- A matcha smoothie
Add a scoop of matcha powder to your favorite smoothie recipe to give your smoother a nutritional boost.
- A matcha shaker bottle
Make matcha on the go by combining matcha powder with filtered water and shaking it up in a shaker bottle. Let this high nutrient drink replace your mid-day pick-me-up beverage to help you to feel satisfied between meals.
- Whisk it
Whisk your matcha in hot water with a special bamboo whisk, known as a “chasen”. The fine bamboo prongs are great at mixing the matcha into a smooth cup of matcha tea with a delightful frothy finish.
- Cook with matcha
Matcha tea is very versatile in the kitchen. You can easily mix matcha tea powder into breads, baked goods, oatmeal, pancakes, soups (after they’ve been removed from the stovetop) or homemade ice-cream. It actually has a strong flavor that could help you cut back on sugar at home while still enjoying your favorite sweet treats.
Do you want a little pep with your Matcha? Check out these yummy Matcha Energy Bites!
- Do a matcha tea skin mask
Matcha tea also makes a great face mask because of its high EGCG content that helps to reduce inflammation, acne and blemishes and uneven skin tone. The antioxidant compounds also help reverse UV damage from the sun and improve your skin’s elasticity.
Possible side effects of matcha green tea
Very few people have issues with consuming matcha green tea but like everything else, one can overdo a good thing too. Even though matcha green tea offers many health benefits it can upset your system if you consume in excess. As mentioned, even though matcha green tea contains less caffeine than coffee, too much matcha tea may cause caffeine-related side effects which could keep you a little on edge or cause insomnia. Other possible side effects include:
- Constipation from dehydration
- Anemia (iron deficiency)
- Upset stomach
- Headaches or irritability
Also, pregnant or lactating women or people with kidney or liver disease should avoid drinking matcha tea. It is best to consult with a healthcare provider if you have any questions about possible side effects.
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Best way to store matcha
As with most food items, I prefer to not keep them for too long. Matcha tea can last up to one year when stored properly, however, it may lose its nutritional value beyond that time. So buy in small quantities and store it in a dark, dry and airtight container in a cool cabinet or fridge.
Not all matcha is created equal
Like all other types of teas, make sure you are getting your matcha from a reliable source. Choose organic and non-GMO. Matcha from reputable Japanese sources is superior to some matcha that comes from India, Pakistan, and China as they may contain high levels of fluoride and heavy metals like aluminum and lead. 
Research studies have shown that the specific polyphenol in matcha called EGCG can boost metabolism, and slow or halt the growth of cancer cells.
EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is a key active component of green tea (Camellia sinensis) leaves. And because you are consuming the whole tea leaf when you drink matcha, you get a higher amount. Matcha is also valued for its antioxidant properties and has been shown to boost weight loss by promoting fat metabolism and for its role in supporting overall health and wellness. I recommend a formula such as EGCg that contains green tea standardized to 50% EGCG with only 2% caffeine, is guaranteed low fluoride and non-GMO.
If you’re not drinking matcha green tea yet, now is the time to try this metabolism-enhancing, stress-reducing, immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, cancer-fighting, anti-aging tea! If getting into a matcha routine isn’t for you, don’t miss out on getting EGCg into your daily life for all the health benefits of matcha’s main ingredient — CONTACT ME today so I can guide you to finding what fits best for you.