Matcha Tea Health Benefits

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A bowl of matcha on a black lacquered tray with a traditional sweet

A bowl of matcha on a black lacquered tray with a traditional sweet (Wikimedia)

Matcha tea is considered the best thing that came from the tea plant (Camilla sinensis). Among other teas derived from this plant, not one of them can match the exquisite and addicting taste of matcha tea. The fact that matcha tea holds the key to a better, healthier you is even more reason to try it.

 

Matcha tea is made from tea leaves derived from an exhaustive and stringent process. These leaves come from tea plants grown in specifically shaded areas. Shading can come in the form of natural tree or plant canopies, but in almost all cases, the plant is shaded using a covering. Shading the plant reduces the growth rate of the plant and induces the proliferation of certain amino acids which give matcha tea its unique flavor as well as imbuing it with various healthful properties.

Only a select few tea buds are selected to make matcha tea. The most potent and flavorful buds are usually those harvested early in the year. The leaves selected are the finest and most likely to contain the most flavors. After picking, the buds are either rolled prior to drying or laid out flat.  Gyokuro or Jade Dew tea is made from rolled dried leaves. Those that are laid out flat are called tencha. Removing the veins and stems of tencha and grounding into fine powder leads to matcha tea. Grinding these leaves is a meticulous process that ensures that they won’t be ground into a pulp while maintaining identical particle size and texture.

Serving matcha tea in traditional Japanese ceremonies is an elaborate ritual. Various specialized utensils and containers are used to ensure purity and flavor when serving matcha tea. Servings usually consist of half a teaspoon of Matcha tea powder in half a cup (70-80mL) of water.

Due to the great care in preparing matcha tea, the flavors as well as essential compounds are preserved. This enhances the numerous health benefits of matcha tea. Matcha tea contains compounds found in tea leaves, and being in powdered form, it is imbibed in more concentrated amounts. This improves the health benefits normally obtained from drinking tea.

Matcha tea contains high levels chlorophyll since it is grown in the shade, inducing leaves to produce more. Chlorophyll is the green pigment in plants vital to photosynthesis. For humans, taking chlorophyll acts as a detoxifier. It helps flush out toxins, free-radicals and heavy metals.

Matcha tea has long been used in Japan as a stress reliever. Matcha tea’s soothing fragrance and rich taste calms and takes away worries. The amino acids in Matcha tea, in particular L-theanine, act as mood enhancer, bringing drinkers closer to a state of meditative tranquility.

Other compounds found in matcha tea can also lower body cholesterol levels. It can be an effective aid for those who are reducing weight and trying to improve their health since when taken regularly, it can boost metabolism.

The health benefits of matcha tea also extend to preventing cancer. Catechins are known compounds found in tea leaves help prevent cancer. Epicgallocatechin gallate in particular greatly reduces cancer rates, and is found in high concentrations in matcha tea.

Matcha tea is highly prized for its special flavor. This carefully processed tea has been a part of Japanese culture since ancient times. But there is really more to this tea than its taste and aroma. Regular drinking can and will improve your health and well being. The numerous health benefits of matcha tea allow one to stay healthy and relieve stress while enjoying a wonderful cup of this magnificent tea.

References

  • Kimura K, Ozeki M, Juneja L, Ohira H (2007). L-Theanine reduces psychological and physiological stress responses. Biol Psychol 74 (1): 39–45.
  • Weiss, David J; Anderton, Christopher R (2003). Determination of catechins in matcha green tea by micellar electrokinetic chromatography. Journal of Chromatography A 1011 (1-2): 173–180.
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