Matcha, Matcha, Matcha - Whats all the hype about?
This morning as I was slowly waking up by drinking a cup of joe I was catching up on the news and I heard the show discussing matcha. Matcha is a powdered green tea that contains an incredible amount of health benefits. Drinking one cup of matcha is equivalent to consuming 10 cups of green tea alone.
Matcha has historically been the tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies which focus upon the preparation, serving and consumption. I was lucky enough to witness the ceremony on several occasions, but my mom knowing that I am a klutz never let me partake of the event. This is a very beautiful tradition and if you get a chance to observe or participate, enjoy!
Anyway, getting back to matcha, I’m sure you’re wondering why matcha is so great. It is because you’re drinking the whole leaf and not just steeping leaves which then are thrown in the compost pail. That is the big difference.
Matcha tea bushes are grown and processed differently than other green teas. The tea bushes are covered for several weeks to prevent contact with direct sunlight. This causes the bush to slow down it growth and increases it the growth of chlorophyll levels which in turn causes the leaves for turn a darker green. Why would one want the darker green in the leaves from higher chlorophyll levels? L-Theanine that’s why (among other health benefits) (wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha)!
L-Theanine is an amino acid and can be found in all green and black teas, but one cup of matcha will provide over 5 times of the amount of this vital amino acid! Plus L-Theanine has been show to aid in mental clarity and relaxation and has been used for centuries by Buddhist Monks for meditation (matchasource.com). The function of this amino acid is to increase the brain’s alpha waves – which promote calmness and relaxation. Stress causes a slew of negative health impacts like high blood pressure and brain beta waves increase. Drinking or consumption of matcha will counter act these beta waves by increasing alpha waves. Hurray for alpha waves!
Other studies conducted on matcha, it has been tested and shown that the higher chlorophyll levels help the body to detoxify. Chlorophyll helps to rid the body of contaminants that we are exposed to daily. Contaminates like chemicals and heavy metals that are harmful to the body and the mind. As a former water scientist, I can attest to this! Everyday we ingest minute amounts of heavy metals and chemicals in our drinking water. Although water treatment is great and removes almost all contaminates, it cannot remove all pollutants. Matcha’s higher levels of chlorophyll bind with these to expel them from our systems. Hurray for higher chlorophyll levels!
Now on to other benefits of matcha such as L-Theanine. This is an amino acid which has been tied to improvements in energy, mood and mental clarity. Although matcha does contain caffeine it will increase energy without the caffeine jitters. It helps in improving metabolism which in turn burns more calories! A great way to help those who are dieting to reach their weight loss goals (matchasource.com).
Finally, matcha also contains higher levels of antioxidants that prevent premature aging and disease. ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) testing has shown that consumption of matcha is higher in antioxidants then goji berries, acai berries, broccoli and spinach! Another benefit from increased antioxidants include those great catechins which help to fight effects from free radicals from sources that are hard to control such as, chemicals, UV radiation and pollution (matchasource.com).
So now you're informed about the benefits of drinking matcha the next piece of information you will require is which grade of matcha should be purchased? There are several different types of matcha available for specific purposes such as “Ceremony’, “Classic”, “Café” and “Kitchen” (matchasourcecom). This should be pretty self explanatory, but what you want to look for is matcha that is vibrant green and has sweet grassy aroma. Ceremony matcha is an excellent grade of tea because this is composed of only the tender young leaves of the tea bush. Flavor is superior to the other grades and this grade is pricey.
Café, classic and kitchen grades are the mature leaves that have been harvested. The more mature the leaf is courser and contains veins and stems. It will also be slightly bitter than the ceremony grade and the color will be darker. The cost of these grades of matcha will be less expensive which can be a benefit to the budget.
Although there are obvious pros to purchasing lower grades of matcha, this type of matcha can be used in smoothies, ice cream and main entrees as well as for sipping. Lelani’s has several recipes for smoothies on Pintrest.com that matcha can be added to for additional health benefits. If interested please find us on www.pintrest.com. Lelani’s will also be posting recipes using matcha in the future. Please check out our website store. Until next time, I have added a smoothie recipe below to start you out in your exploration of matcha!
Coconut Vanilla Matcha Smoothie (coupleofcooks.com)
What You Need
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon Aiya cooking-grade matcha
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 ½ tablespoons agave nectar*
- ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- ½ ripe banana
- ½ cup ice
- Small pinch salt
What To Do
In a blender, blend all ingredients together on high-speed, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.
Matcha Source, (http://matchasource.com/health-benefits-of-matcha-tea/), (matchasource.com/buyers-guide/)
A Couple of Cooks, (http://www.acouplecooks.com/2015/03/coconut-vanilla-matcha-smoothie/)