What is matcha green tea?

‘Mat-Cha’ is a Japanese word that means ‘Powered-Tea’. In spite of that, the original concept of matcha green tea comes from China. Chan (Zen) Buddhists started to pulverize green tea into a pleasant drink, and as a result they could utilize the whole nutritional leaf. As time went by the popularity of powdered tea in China declined, however it started to grow in Japan. The Zen monasteries of Japan heard that drinking matcha would help the monks to stay awake and alert during their long hours of meditation. After that, samurai warriors also realized the amazing benefits of this special tea. They started to drink it to sustain energy and improve their mental alertness.

Nowadays the popularity of matcha has been skyrocketing. We can find it in the form of matcha shots, lattes, teas, and even desserts appearing everywhere. Tough all the benefits of matcha green tea were experienced in the ancient times, modern scientific researches can now explain how these benefits are derived.

The health benefits of matcha tea, the supercharged version of green tea

We all know that green tea is an extremely healthy beverage. However, Matcha has up to 137 times the disease-fighting polyphenols named EGCG, than one cup of green tea.1 As a result when you drink one cup of matcha, it is equal to 10 cups of green tea. In addition, when you drink matcha, you actually consume the whole tea leaf, contrary to other teas where you consume only a brew of its leaves.2

I will only write about the brain related benefits in detail, but here is a brief list about all of the different areas where matcha can be useful:

In case you want to learn more about every benefit, I suggest to read the book of Richard Foster-Fletcher: Matcha Tea: How this Super-Tea will make you Unstoppable.

Is only water adequate for the thirsty brain?

As I’ve already written about it in a previous post, drinking enough water is one of the most important things with respect to our brain health. Drinking clean water is essential in promoting hydration, restoring balance, and powering all sorts of cellular activity throughout the entire body. Water never should be neglected, but there are other great alternatives that can supplement our fluid consumption. Drinking tea, fruit infused water, green juices and smoothies can all help to stay hydrated. Subsequently matcha is not only a wonderful source of antioxidants and vitamins, it can also support our necessary fluid intake. 3

Improve your attention, reaction time, and memory with matcha

There are several researches that prove the brain related benefits of matcha.

Firstly, in a scientific study 23 participants had to complete different tasks, designed to evaluate cognitive performance. There were two groups and one of them consumed matcha tea or a bar containing 4 grams of matcha. The other people only had a placebo tea or bar. In conclusion, the researchers found that matcha enhanced the attention, reaction time, and memory.4

Secondly, another study showed that older people who consumed 2 grams of green tea powder daily for two months, were able to perform better from a cognitive perspective. 5

Thirdly, half tea spoon of matcha powder contains 35 mg of caffeine. There are a lot of studies that show correlation between caffeine intake and improved mental performance.6 7 8

Moreover, you can avoid the typical crash in energy levels that you usually experience after caffeine consumption. The reason behind this is the L-theanine content, which alters the effects of caffeine, promoting alertness. 9

The most unique benefit of matcha

In case of stressful situations, where you need to deliver outstanding mental performance there are usually two options. First, you can consume something that help you stay awake (e.g. an energy drink), but that probably won’t help with your stress level, just worsen it. Second, you can take something that will calm you down, but that will most definitely ruin your energy and concentration.

Clearly matcha has an energy boosting property, but it can also help you calm down. Both of these effects are mainly linked to it’s high L-theanine content. This amino acid helps boost the alpha brain waves, which along with relieving you of stress and anxiety, also increases your concentration.10

Next time before an exam or job interview, you should probably try to drink a cup of matcha green tea instead of an energy drink.

High quality matcha vs low quality matcha

When we evaluate the quality of the different matcha powders, the L-Theanine content will be the most relevant factor. Not only it provides us with a lot of benefits, but also it makes the taste of matcha better.

There are three different grades of matcha:

Naturally if you want to enjoy the full nutritional benefit and the most delicious taste, the ceremonial grade will be the best choice. It can be difficult to obtain this version, but fortunately some companies are dedicated to building sustainable relationships with Japanese Tea Farmers to source and import the very best Matcha. A good example is KO Matcha Ceremonial Grade.

An easy way to identify whether it is really a high quality matcha is to check the color of it. Ceremonial grade will always be vividly green. In case it is yellowish green, it’s not genuine ceremonial grade. Pay attention to that and you can enjoy all of the benefits of matcha green tea.

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