What is Matcha Green Tea?
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A Brief History Trip, because learning is fun.
According to the book, “Green Tea Revealed”, the green tea culture originated in China. Certain information and facts about tea were transferred into scrolls so that anyone could read the references. The Chinese were among the first to consider green tea with high regard and cherished it as a superior beverage.
It was in early 700 AD that it was first brought to Japan. It was only available in small amounts, in the form of powder and was really made for the upper class. It was a luxury product for them and also used for medicinal purposes.
Then in 1191AD it was believed that a Buddhist monk by the name of Eisai, brought green tea seeds to China and planted to the grounds of Kyoto temple. What he did was something that would forever change how the world will consume green tea.
He would crush the leaves and reintroduced to Japan the first drinking powdered green tea, known as, “matcha green tea”. The powder was mixed in hot water and consumed immediately.
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How is Matcha Green Tea Made?
Kathy Chan, a tea specialist based in NYC and Honolulu explained that matcha is processed from green tea leaves that have been stone-ground to come up with a delicate powder. Then it is sifted and whisked with hot water, and because of its laborious process, prices of this kind of tea are higher than regular tea.
Furthermore, Chan explained that matcha’s edge over other green teas is that, matcha bushes are covered for up to 20 days prior to harvest to protect leaves from direct sunlight. Due to that, the plant’s chlorophyll levels are boosted, which makes the leaves greener, and increases the production of L-theanine, an amino acid that occurs naturally in tea plants. L-theanine gives us both the calming and stimulating feeling all at the same time when drinking tea. Which is why we use it in Momental Mind in addition to green tea’s EGCG and polyphenol content.
Farm workers pick out the best buds of leaves and then subject them to two kinds of tea production. One is called Gyokuro, where leaves are rolled out and eventually become a premium green tea. If the leaves are laid out to become dry, it is called Tencha. Tencha is the leaf used in making matcha. The leaves are de-veined, de-stemmed and stone-ground until it achieves its powder form.
What’s All the Hype around Matcha Green Tea?
Since matcha green tea is stone-ground, you are getting its full benefits just like if you were actually eating green tea leaves.
According to the dietician, Jackson Blatner, “Matcha gives you more of an antioxidant boost than other types of green tea. Most green tea leaves are steeped in water. With matcha, you’re actually drinking the whole powdered leaf.” When you let your matcha latte sit for a bit you may have noticed the powder separating from the liquid. This is normal and good shake or stir will mix it back in.
The Popular Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
In an article published in Pubmed, research was conducted on animals and concluded that matcha green tea reduces the risk of liver and kidney damage, thus lowering triglyceride, cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
In terms of fighting bacteria and viruses, matcha green tea was also found to be effective according to a research study done by Steinmann (2009) et. al.
Writer Sue Quinn from the Telegraph UK reported that, matcha contains small amounts of various vitamins and minerals, but is most prized for being rich in polyphenol compounds called catechins, a type of antioxidant.
“In simple terms, an antioxidant is a chemical compound that protects cells against the effects of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to pollutants such as tobacco smoke or radiation from the sun. It can damage cells and may play a role in heart disease, cancer, and other medical conditions; hence, researchers are interested in determining exactly which antioxidants are effective against them”, says Lindsey Getz of Today’s Dietician Magazine
Catechin antioxidants are the most important type of antioxidant to be found in matcha. Specifically, it is called Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Wolfram (2007), stated that it has the capacity to reduce inflammation, cause cell regeneration and maintains the health of arteries.
Compared to regular green tea, matcha green tea contains up to 137 times more antioxidants and up to 3 times more antioxidants compared to high-quality teas (Weiss and Anderton, 2003).
Kim et. al., (2011), reported that when matcha green tea is consumed on a regular basis, your body can fight back high blood sugar levels that can cause heart disease.
The Wonder of Matcha Green Tea Caffeine
David Mandelbaum and Jessica Lloyd, a couple based in New York started a matcha green tea company called, Panatea. As they dug deeper, they’ve discovered that matcha green tea is a metabolism booster and can keep energy levels for 3-6 hours. It contains only 34mg of caffeine, which is 1/3 of a cup of coffee.
Matcha aficionados, according to Health.com, say that compared to the caffeine buzz from coffee, matcha creates an “alert calm” due to the amino acid, L-theanine, which instead you induces relaxation, calm, and inhibits the jittery feelings associated with coffee caffeine.
What is the Caffeine Content in Coffee and Matcha All About?
Hannah Nichols, from The Medical News Today, explained that, caffeine is used by the masses on a daily basis to increase wakefulness, alleviate fatigue, and improve concentration and focus. It is in fact the most commonly used drug in the world. Truly, coffee, and its active ingredient caffeine are a CNS stimulant, and only create the sensation of energy without the nutritional value of matcha. You are basically masking your fatigue, when in reality you should allow yourself to be aware of when you need more sleep. With proper rest you can recover more readily and be far more effective.
In an article by the US FDA, caffeine is consumed both as a food additive and drug. It is a central nervous system stimulant and is capable of restoring your mental alertness.
In the US, 90% of adults consume more than 200mg of caffeine per day on average. Which in general isn’t too bad for your health, unless it is really masking disturbed sleep patterns, and lack of restful habits. Again, if you can’t feel that you are tired, but your body really wants to rest you will be at a disadvantage over the long term, and will inevitably crash. All I am saying is use caffeine wisely, and recognize what it is actually doing for you.
Get Your Source of Caffeine From Matcha Green Tea
In the Journal of Young Investigators, an article written by Neil Majithia, reported that, Caffeine is a chemical compound found in the beans, leaves, and fruits of over 60 known plants. Added to that, when consumed by humans, the stimulant operates on the central nervous system (CNS) to produce an energizing effect that, among other things, wards off lethargy and promotes mental acuity. Caffeine's "buzz," which is unregulated by governments worldwide, is responsible for the success of household commodities such as coffee, soda, energy drinks, and even certain pills. Soda and energy drinks are the worst sources of caffeine because of the incredibly high sugar content that comes with it. We definitely don’t recommend getting your caffeine kick this way. We love coffee too, but the additional benefits, aside from matcha’s caffeine content, make it our number 1 choice.
What Does Caffeine Do to Your Body?
Medical News Today, explained that, whether caffeine is consumed in food or as a medicine, it changes the way the brain and body work. Once consumed, caffeine is absorbed into the blood and body tissues within around 45 minutes.
In a study conducted by Hodgson et al., (2013) proved that caffeine helps enhance physical performance, stamina and recovery during endurance exercises, but as a diuretic can increase dehydration, which could further tissue breakdown when training. A small amount, say up to 100-200mg per day depending on how strongly you are affected can bring you a lot of benefit. Just be aware of the potential detriments of dehydration, masked fatigue, and altered sleep habits.
Overconsumption of caffeine, leads to various side effects. In the journal, Food Science and Quality Management, Wolde (2014), lectured the following side effects of caffeine:
- Difficulty in sleeping
- A fast heart rate
- Urinating more often (diuretic)
Coffee, brewed - 102 to 200mg per cup
Coffee, instant – 27 to 173mg per cup
Coffee, decaffeinated – 3-12mg per cup
Caffeine containing cola and softdrinks – 31 to 71mg per 12 ounces
Cocoa – 1-13mg per cup
Caffeine in Matcha Green Tea
As mentioned above, a cup of matcha green tea contains 34mg of caffeine. It is one of the lowest caffeine sources compared to other common drinks. Plus, the caffeine comes from a natural source and since it contains L-theanine it gives you a calm alertness compared to coffee and other common drinks that can cause palpitations and stomach acidity.
So the main difference of matcha caffeine in green tea from coffee and other caffeinated beverages lies within its L-theanine content.
Dodd et. al., (2015) reported that, L-theanine has an ability to modify the caffeine effects in the body. Moreover, matcha caffeine in green tea has the capacity to counter balance the “nervous” effects of caffeine, thus inducing a more relaxed and milder mood.
In addition, Nathan et al., (2006) explained that L-theanine, when combined with caffeine, is capable of inducing neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, which stimulate your brain and improve memory, mood and concentration.
Helen Nichols, also shared that caffeine found in green tea is a great laxative. It’s a mild laxative that stimulates the bowels to move, activating and contracting your colon to push things along. So if you’re having difficulty producing a bowel movement or are constipated in general, matcha green tea will be your best friend.