Matcha powder, matcha smoothies, even matcha brownies. So what exactly is this new superfood and does it live up to its reputation?
Matcha is the ‘ultimate green tea’
Matcha is a type of green tea, sold as a bright green and very fine powder. The tea plant is grown in the shade which increases its chlorophyll content and gives it its characteristic deep green colour. what is matcha
The leaves are handpicked and only the youngest, ‘finest’ leaves are selected for drying and processing using granite mills in specialised factories in Japan. This process allows Matcha to retain almost 100% of its nutrient content. A true ‘superfood’.
Clean, lean and so very green
As for the health benefits of Matcha. Where do we start? Like all teas, practically zero calories and an excellent source of L-theanine, an amino acid which is known to ‘soothe’ the mood, calming and focusing the mind.
A perfect mid-afternoon pick me up! It contains caffeine, about 70mg per cup which Is roughly half the amount in most coffees and because of its L-theanine content, it both calms and relaxes rather than causing a ‘hit’ followed by a crash that is associated with excessive coffee.
It is high in vitamins and minerals – notably Vitamin A and Iron.
It also contains Vitamin B2, Magnesium, Potassium and Vitamin D. Its real selling point though is its antioxidant content which is even higher than blue berries or pomegranates!
It contains a unique and potent antioxidant group called catechins, particularly a catechin known as epigallocatechin gallate. Studies link this antioxidant as being protective for cancer, cardiovascular disease and even aging.
It may also play a role in the prevention of mental degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers and Parkinson’s because of its anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
‘Piece de resistance’?! Matcha may also help to prevent obesity. Studies show an association with green tea intake for increasing both metabolism and fat oxidation.
Lastly, studies link catechins as being linked with better physical endurance due to their ability to reduce muscle damage and improve lipid oxidation within muscles. A super food for super heros!
Why is it so expensive?
Possibly the only down side to Matcha is its price. It is certainly not cheap and the price reflects the traditional and labour intensive techniques used to produce it. It is also very popular in Japan, so little is left for export.
Connoisseurs love its green and frothy appearance as well as its pleasant taste. A little though really does a go a long way. Try matcha tea, a green, frothy and delicious drink.
Try adding it to Greek yoghurt and smoothie as well as sprinkling over savoury dishes. Avoid however, sugary matcha lattes and matcha cakes, where the health benefits of Matcha are likely to be heavily outweighed by the sugar and other less healthy ingredients.
Matcha – Keep it clean and keep it green!