Quantcast

Matcha: The Healthier Green Tea You Should Be Drinking

Food

Green tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world. It has all sorts of health benefits, such as weight loss and improved heart health (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

One variety of green tea, matcha, is claimed to be even healthier than the other types. It's grown and prepared differently than other green teas and the whole tea leaf is consumed. But does matcha really live up to the hype?

Matcha contains about three times more antioxidants than other types of high-quality green tea.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

What is Matcha?

Matcha and regular green tea both come from the Camellia sinensis plant, which is native to China.

However, matcha is grown differently than regular green tea. The tea bushes are covered for about 20 to 30 days before harvest, to prevent direct sunlight. The shade stimulates an increase in chlorophyll levels, which turns the leaves into a darker shade of green and increases the production of amino acids.

After harvesting, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves. They are then stone-ground into a fine, bright green powder, known as matcha.

Because the whole leaf powder is ingested, instead of just water infused through the tea leaves, matcha is even higher in some substances than green tea. This includes caffeine and antioxidants. One cup of matcha, made from half a teaspoon of powder, generally contains about 35 mg of caffeine. This is slightly more than a cup of regular green tea.

Matcha can have a grassy and bitter taste and is often served with a sweetener or milk. Matcha powder is also popular in smoothies and baking.

How Is Matcha Tea Prepared?

Matcha tea is prepared differently than regular green tea. Regular tea is made from soaked leaves, while matcha is made from ground, whole leaves.

It is usually prepared the traditional Japanese way. The tea is measured with a bamboo spoon, called a shashaku, into a heated tea bowl, known as a chawan. Hot water is then added to the bowl. The tea is whisked with a special bamboo whisk, called a chasen, until it becomes smooth with froth on top.

Matcha can be prepared in several consistencies:

  • Standard: Most people mix one teaspoon of matcha powder with two ounces of hot water.
  • Usucha (thin): This thinner version uses about half a teaspoon of matcha, mixed with about 3 to 4 ounces of hot water.
  • Koicha (thick): This thick version is sometimes part of Japanese tea ceremonies. Two teaspoons of matcha are mixed with about 1 ounce of hot water. There is no foam and a higher grade of matcha is required.

Watch this video to see a quick demonstration of how to make matcha:

If you want to try this out, then you can buy both matcha powder and the bamboo tools for making it on Amazon.

However, keep in mind that you don't actually need all this fancy stuff to make a good cup of matcha. A cup, teaspoon and small whisk will do just fine.

Health Benefits of Matcha

Since matcha is simply a variety of green tea, it has most of the same health benefits.

However, since matcha is more concentrated in antioxidants, a single cup of matcha may be equivalent to about three cups of regular green tea. There haven't been many human studies on matcha specifically, but animal studies suggest that it may reduce the risk of kidney and liver damage while lowering blood sugar, triglyceride and cholesterol levels (6).

Matcha also seems to be more effective than regular green tea at fighting bacteria, viruses and fungi (7).

Matcha is Packed with Antioxidants

Dietary antioxidants prevent free radicals from forming in your body, which protects cells and tissues from damage. Matcha is very high in antioxidants, especially catechins. The most powerful catechin in it is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been studied extensively. It may fight inflammation in the body, help maintain healthy arteries, promote cell repair and more (8).

What's more, whole-leaf teas contain more antioxidants than tea bags or ready-to-drink products (9). One study found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than a low-grade variety of green tea and up to three times more antioxidants than other high-quality teas (10).

Read page 1

Drinking Matcha May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the biggest cause of death worldwide and there are many risk factors that are known to drive heart disease (11). Drinking green tea may help improve total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides and blood sugar levels (12, 13, 14).

Furthermore, green tea may protect against the oxidation of LDL-cholesterol, another major risk factor for heart disease (15, 16). Studies have actually shown that green tea drinkers have up to a 31 percent lower risk of heart disease than people who don't drink green tea (17, 18, 19, 20). This is mainly attributed to the antioxidants and plant compounds in green tea, which are found in even higher amounts in matcha tea.

Matcha Tea May Help with Weight Loss

Green tea has often been associated with weight loss. In fact, it is a common ingredient in many weight loss supplements. Human studies have shown that green tea is able to increase total calories burned by increasing the metabolic rate. It has also been shown to increase selective fat burning by up to 17 percent (21, 22, 23, 24).

However, keep in mind that drinking green tea is only a very small piece of the weight loss puzzle and not all studies agree that it helps. A recent review study concluded that the weight loss effects of green tea are so small that they are not of “clinical" importance (25).

Drinking Matcha May Help with Relaxation and Alertness

In addition to being a great source of antioxidants, green tea contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine. Matcha tea actually contains much higher levels of L-theanine than other types of green tea.

In humans, L-theanine may increase so-called alpha waves in the brain. These waves are linked to mental relaxation and may help fight stress signals (26, 27, 28, 29). L-theanine also modifies the effects of caffeine in the body, increasing alertness without causing the drowsiness that often follows coffee drinking. Matcha tea has actually been reported to have a milder and longer-lasting “buzz" than coffee (30). L-theanine can also increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in the brain, leading to improved mood, memory and concentration (31).

Furthermore, studies have shown that powdered green tea may improve brain function and reduce age-related cognitive decline in the elderly (32, 33, 34).

Are There any Adverse Effects?

Everything in nutrition has its pros and cons. Matcha is no exception. Because matcha is highly concentrated in substances (both good and bad), it is generally not recommended to drink more than two cups per day.

Contaminants

By consuming matcha powder, you are actually ingesting the whole tea leaf—along with everything it contains. Matcha leaves may have contaminants from the soil that they grow in, including heavy metals, pesticides and fluoride (35, 36, 37, 38).

Using organic matcha may reduce the risk of exposure, but the soil may still contain substances that are harmful in large amounts.

Too Many Plant Compounds

In nutrition, more is not always better. Matcha contains about three times more antioxidants than high-quality regular green tea.

What this means is that two cups of matcha may provide equal amounts of plant compounds as six whole cups of other high-quality green teas.

While individual tolerance varies, high levels of the plant compounds found in matcha may cause nausea and symptoms of liver or kidney toxicity (39, 40, 41). Some individuals have shown signs of liver toxicity after consuming just six cups of green tea daily for four months, equaling about two daily cups of matcha (42).

Matcha is Healthier Than Regular Green Tea

Matcha is a special, powerful form of green tea. It comes from the same plant, but is grown and prepared very differently. Since the leaves are ground into powder, you end up consuming the whole leaf. For this reason, matcha may have even more benefits than regular green tea.

This article was reposted from our media associate Authority Nutrition.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

'Top Chef' Guest Star José Andrés Challenges Contestants to Cook With Solar-Powered Stoves

10 Reasons Why GMO Smart Label Isn't 'Smart' at All

Is a Low-Fat Diet Healthy?

17 Reasons You Need Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Your Diet

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By George Citroner

The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the World Health Organization currently recommend either 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (walking, gardening, doing household chores) or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, swimming) every week.

But there's little research looking at the benefits, if any, of exercising less than the 75 minute minimum.

Read More Show Less
Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank, poses for a photograph. Nick Otto / Washington Post / Getty Images

It seems the reality of the climate crisis is too much for the Federal Reserve to ignore anymore.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

Passengers trying to reach Berlin's Tegel Airport on Sunday were hit with delays after police blocked roads and enacted tighter security controls in response to a climate protest.

Read More Show Less
A military police officer in Charlotte, North Carolina, pets Rosco, a post-traumatic stress disorder companion animal certified to accompany him, on Jan. 11, 2014. North Carolina National Guard

For 21 years, Doug Distaso served his country in the United States Air Force.

He commanded joint aviation, maintenance, and support personnel globally and served as a primary legislative affairs lead for two U.S. Special Operations Command leaders.

But after an Air Force plane accident left him with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and chronic pain, Distaso was placed on more than a dozen prescription medications by doctors at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).

Read More Show Less
(L) Selma Three Stone Engagement Ring. (R) The Greener Diamond Farm Project. MiaDonna

By Bailey Hopp

If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Preliminary tests of the bubble barrier have shown it to be capable of ushering 80 percent of the canal's plastic waste to its banks. The Great Bubble Barrier / YouTube screenshot

The scourge of plastic waste that washes up on once-pristine beaches and finds its way into the middle of the ocean often starts on land, is dumped in rivers and canals, and gets carried out to sea. At the current rate, marine plastic is predicted to outweigh all the fish in the seas by 2050, according to Silicon Canals.

Read More Show Less
Man stands on stage at Fort Leonard Wood in the U.S. Brett Sayles / Pexels

Wilson "Woody" Powell served in the Air Force during the Korean war. But in the decades since, he's become staunchly anti-war.

Read More Show Less
Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at a rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa on Nov. 8. Matt Johnson / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

Joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Friday night, Sen. Bernie Sanders held the largest rally of any 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to date in Iowa, drawing more than 2,400 people to Iowa Western Community College in Council Bluffs.

Read More Show Less