Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Matcha Green Tea

I loooooooove Matcha green tea. For the uninitiated, Matcha green tea is a Japanese tea that comes in powder form. The health benefits of Matcha tea are staggering when compared to normal green teas. It tastes more exotic than normal green tea and due to its powder form can be easily added into smoothies, shakes, milk, and even ice cream.

If you’re still drinking regular green tea, then you’re missing out.So pay close attention. This article will unveil the wonderful secrets of Matcha.

Matcha Health Benefits

Better to be deprived of food for three days than tea for one – Ancient Chinese Proverb

Let’s start from the top: The health benefits of Matcha green tea.

In a 2006 study, 1003 Japanese adults showed just how healthy green tea can be. The study showed that of all the Japanese subjects, those who drank one cup of green tea a day lowered their risk of cognitive decline (Alzheimer’s, etc) by 38%. Those who drank two cups a day lowered their risk by 54%!

Other research confirms that green tea has brain-friendly properties — a 2004 study in Journal of Immunology suggests that green tea can help treat and prevent multiple sclerosis by protecting brain cells.

So green tea is healthy for the brain. This health benefits appear to be the due to the superstar antioxidants found in green tea called EGCGs.

EGCGs are found in all green teas, but recent research shows that not all green teas are created equal. This is where Matcha comes in: Studies have shown that the EGCG amount in Matcha green tea is 137 times the amount in normal green tea. Wow…

In terms of EGCG content, you would have to drink 137 cups of normal green tea to get the same brain-health benefits from just one cup of Matcha!

Matcha Tea and Weight Loss

Yes, brain health is good, but that’s not the best part.

Research indicates that the various ingredients found in green tea can help eliminate abdominal fat. Many clinical trials, including this 2007 study, have shown that green tea extract reduces body fat and waist circumference.

What causes the weight loss? You guessed it — the EGCGs. EGCGs belong to a group of antioxidants called “catechins,” which are not only found in tea, but in cocoa as well. Catechins speed up metabolism, thus aiding in weight loss, among providing the usual antioxidant benefits.

Since the EGCGs in Matcha green tea are 137 times more abundant than in regular green tea, it’s a no-brainer to reach for the Matcha in your quest for a flat stomach.

(Almost forget… do I dare add that green tea can help suppress hunger cravings as well? see here)

Other Matcha Health Benefits

I could stop here with all the health benefits of (Matcha) green tea, but I won’t. :)

The EGCGs found in Matcha tea have also been shown to be powerfully effective at fighting certain cancer cells, while keeping normal cells healthy (see this study). Large-scale Japanese studies have shown that drinking green tea significantly delays the onset of cancer as well as reducing risk of cardiovascular disease.

And yet another study showed that EGCG protects against harmful bacteria, while promoting the growth of good intestinal bacteria, likeLactobacillus and Bifodobacteria (the stuff you find in yogurt).
If all of this sounds too good to be true… well, let’s go back to the basics: EGCG is an antioxidant, a potent antioxidant. Like all antioixidants, EGCG inhibits the aging process of tissue and reduces inflammation. The anti-inflammatory properties of EGCG are not just for a better immune system, but also for less acne, more radiant skin, whiter eyes, and just about any other outward sign of good health.

It’s no surprise that EGCGs promotes good health all across the board. That’s exactly what antioxidants are for!

Japan is the leading country in green tea consumption, and they also enjoy one of the highest life expectancies of any nation. Some experts believe that it’s the green tea that promotes their impressive longevity.

Why Matcha?

As mentioned before, not all green teas are equal. Matcha green tea contains 137 times more EGCGs than normal green tea. Why is that?

The answer is from how Matcha tea is made. Unlike normal tea leaves, Matcha tea is prepared by grinding full tea leaves into a fine powder. When you drink a cup of Matcha tea, you’re drinking the entire nutrient-rich leaf. In other words, you’re getting ALL of the health benefits that tea leaves have to offer.

Matcha green tea is THE healthiest tea on the planet. You can’t surpass the health benefits of consuming the entire tea leaf.

Matcha and Caffeine

One cup of Matcha tea has about half the caffeine of one cup of coffee.

I’ll admit, I like caffeine. It improves alertness, productivity, and mood. There’s no shame in going for that morning pick-me-up.

Nevertheless, there’s a huge difference between the caffeine found in coffee and the caffeine found in green tea.

Green tea contains a compound called tannin. Tannin slows down the absorption of caffeine into the blood. This means that the caffeine from green tea is gradually released over the course of 6-8 hours, unlike the short burst from coffee.

On top of that, green tea also contains L-theanine, which as a relaxing effect that reduces stress. L-theanine has been shown to promote alpha brain-wave activity, a sign of relaxation (see here).
Thanks to the combined effects of caffeine, tannin, and L-theanine, Matcha tea provides:

  • Improved alertness and focus.
  • Improved mood.
  • Relaxation and reduced stress.
  • Increased feeling of well-being.
Japanese Zen Buddhists have been using Matcha green tea for centuries for meditation. In fact, I drink a cup before I meditate, which noticably improves both the focus and relaxation needed for long meditation sessions.

Say goodbye to coffee jitters and caffeine crashes — grab some Matcha tea instead. :)

Matcha Recipes

OK, here’s the fun part….

Matcha is so versatile because it comes in a powder form. You can toss Matcha into anything.
While there’s a whole bunch of awesome Matcha recipes out there. I go for simplicity, because I’m lazy.

Matcha Recipe #1: The Dasani Shake

Add a spoonful of Matcha to a cold water bottle, shake, and enjoy. Instant iced green tea.
Note: I drink my iced tea straight and unsweetened. But if you prefer a bit of sugar with your iced tea, use natural sugars.

Matcha Recipe #2: The Matcha-Powered Smoothie

A blueberry, banana, Matcha smoothie I made this morning. :)Yum.
Matcha Recipe #3: Green Tea Ice Cream

Throw some Matcha powder into vanilla ice cream. Mix it up a bit and voila! Green tea ice cream! Who said dessert can't be healthy?
OK, so I seem to be forgetting the “normal” way to drink Matcha — hot, and whisked with some ceremonial bamboo whisk thing. You can do that too, I guess.

Where to Buy Matcha

Given Matcha’s health benefits, it’s subtle, exotic taste, and it’s easy-to-use powder form, having at least some Matcha in the kitchen is a no-brainer.

So where do you find this stuff? And more importantly, is it affordable? I get my Matcha from Amazon. I pay about $19 for 300 grams of Matcha. Each serving is about 2 grams… so that’s $19 for about 150 servings of Matcha. That should last about half a year if you use it religiously (which I do). Not a bad deal if you ask me.
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Here’s my Vita Life Matcha box.

Vita Life Matcha!

The Vita Life Matcha box comes with a small spoon to measure your 2 grams of powder. This box contains about 150 spoonfuls of Matcha.


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