Matcha is a traditional Japanese drink made from powdered tencha leaves, which are grown in the shade to help produce the bright green colour and high levels of chlorophyll. The leaves are then harvest by hand, steamed and then air dried before then being ground into matcha. The original use was for Buddhist Monks for general health and to aid in meditation.
Today it’s gaining popularity as a healthier alternative to caffeine, and it’s powdered form lends itself to baking and adding the flavour to various foods (I especially love Japanese matcha Kit Kats…not healthy at all but completely delicious!). While I haven’t completed weaned myself off my beloved coffee just yet, I still love to start my morning with a souped-up protein shake consisting of a scoop of vanilla protein powder, 1/2 tsp matcha, 1/2 teaspoon maca and a scoop of creatine.
So, apart from it’s delicious flavour and using it to zen out Buddhist monk style, what other benefits can drinking matcha provide?
1. High levels of antioxidants
1 cup of matcha is said to provide up to three times as many benefits as those found in a normal cup of green tea. Matcha also has the highest ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) rating.
2. Boosts mental alterness
Matcha can help to boost energy and keep you awake without caffeine jitters. It also helps to keep you alert which still providing a calm feeling (hence why it is used as a meditation aid).
3. Mood booster
Matcha green tea contains L-theanine, a unique amino acid that assists in boosting alpha waves in the brain (Stress can boost beta waves = a more excited, agitated state). These alpha waves promote mental relaxation and induce a feeling of mental clarity and a more alert state of mind. As an added bonus, L-theanine also helps boost memory and learning ability.
4. Aids in weight management
Green tea is known as a weight loss aid, and so it makes sense that matcha also helps. This is thanks to the high concentration of catechins (a natural phenol and antioxidant), which help to boost metabolism and promote fat oxidisation.
5. Immune system booster
Catechins also help to fight various viral, bacterial and fungal infections. One type of catechin in particular – EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), is said to provide anti cancer health benefits.
6. Detox aid
No, I’m not talking your basic bitch “3 day juice cleanse detox”, the chlorophyll which helps to give the leaves their bright green colour is also a powerful detoxifier and helps to remove chemicals and metals from the body. Combined with the high levels of anti-oxidants, matcha is one “detox tea” which is actually legit.
So, where can you find? Most modern Melbourne cafes now serve matcha, which is a good option if you’d like to try before you buy (as the sachets can be expensive to buy if you’re going for a quality brand, which is recommended). Most pharmacies and health and supplement stores also now sell it, I use local Aussie brand Matcha Maiden.