Up until now, have you ever heard of the keyword "matcha"? Even if you've heard about it, you might have had some answered or unanswered questions about this nature's gift to mankind. Below are some key questions you might want to pause a bit and find answers to;
What is matcha?
Is matcha healthy?
Is matcha tea good for you?
What are the benefits of matcha?
Do you know how to make matcha tea?
Did you know about the wide range of matcha products?
Are you aware of the health benefits of matcha?
Well, matcha is a Japanese powdered form of green tea that is distinctive amongst other types of tea mainly due to its natural antioxidant qualities. Originally, matcha is widely consumed in Japan as tea, drink and food, but it is now being widely adopted by other parts of the globe due to its distinctive health benefits. Matcha is basically produced from tea leaves that have been protected from sunlight. It might interest you to know that if tea leaves are shielded from direct sunlight, they tend to retain their amino acid components especially theanine. The theanine remains high simply because the hydration of theanine used for the biosynthesis of catechin is reduced. In other to produce matcha, green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) are grown under shade for approximately 3 to 4 weeks before harvesting. The plant Camellia sinensis generates more caffeine and theanine in the absence of direct sunlight. Being that the green tea leaves are protected from sunlight, the catechin content is drastically reduced in matcha unlike in other green teas produced from the leaves planted in the presence of sunlight. Both the veins and stems of the matcha green tea leaves are usually removed during processing. Moreover, matcha contains a high amount of caffeine due to the fact that the buds and young leaves of the Camellia sinensis plants contain a higher amount of caffeine, unlike other mature leaves.
Camellia sinensis is a species of small trees or evergreen shrubs in the flowering plant family of Theaceae. Camellia sinensis leaf buds and leaves are mostly grown for making tea. Camellia sinensis is also known as tea tree, tea plant or tea shrub. But it shouldn't be mistaken with Leptospermum scoparium (New Zealand tea tree) or Melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree oil). The quality of the green tea is determined by the balance of catechin, caffeine and theanine. The presence of a high level of amino acids in the matcha plant is indicative of a high constituent of umami ingredients. Matcha is believed to be the best quality green tea due to its low content of catechin and a high constituent of theanine and caffeine. Matcha tea or grated tea is distinctive from other types of green tea due to its unique mode of production and consumption. Because matcha leaves are grown under shade, the green pigment chlorophyll (antioxidant) are retained to a larger extent. Due to the higher concentration of chlorophyll in matcha, its consumption indicates that higher amount of chlorophyll is transported down to your digestive system thereby keeping your digestive tracts clean. Against the backdrop, chlorophyll is a strong antioxidant that eradicates free radicals, stimulates the red blood cells, boosts the energy level, boosts the immunity level as well as aids the detoxification of the liver. Matcha tea is believed to be one of the healthiest drinks in the world because it contains over 135 more antioxidants and ten times more nutrients than other tea types. Matcha taste is also unique and there are several matcha tea recipes. Interestingly, drinking matcha means that you are ingesting both the liquid and the powdered matcha tea leaves - so a WIN-WIN situation. Some examples of matcha products are matcha tea, matcha cocoa latte, matcha chocolate, matcha ice-cream, matcha latte, matcha turmeric latte, matcha parfait, matcha butter, matcha smoothies and matcha waffles.

Watch this short video on what matcha is all about!


Health Benefits of Matcha
Matcha benefits cannot be overstated. There are several interesting matcha tea reviews that support its amazing health benefits and the importance of its regular consumption. Studies reveal that consuming matcha tea and other matcha products are invaluable for promoting good health while minimizing the onset of certain diseases and illnesses. Below are some amazing health benefits of matcha;
Cancer Prevention
Matcha tea leaf is a rich constituent of polyphenols, epigallocetechin gallate (EGCg) and antioxidants. Epigallocetechin gallate is a natural and powerful antioxidant that is also present in blackberries and cocoa. EPCg is a powerful promoter of a healthy body. The presence of EGCG in matcha is helpful for inhibiting DNA damage caused as a result of free radicals and reactive oxygen species. EGCG is also capable of activating the detoxifying enzymes such as quinones, thereby preventing the development of tumor cells. The polyphenols in matcha tea are capable of preventing the damage inflicted on human skin as a result of ultraviolet (UV) radiation. But did you know that certain foods we consume on a daily basis contain some traces of cancer-causing chemicals? Interestingly, chlorophyll can bind with some cancer-causing chemicals present in the food you eat. This protects your body from the absorption of these chemicals thereby inhibiting the onset of cancer. The high amount of catechins (a group of polyphenols) in matcha helps to prevent the onset of chronic diseases. This is attributed to the anticarcinogenic, antioxidizing and anti-inflammatory properties of catechins.
Lowers the Blood Glucose Level
Matcha is useful for reducing the blood glucose levels while improving the superoxide dismutase (SOD) activities and malondialdehyde (MAD) contents found in the liver and serum. Matcha can suppress blood glucose (BG) accumulation while promoting antioxidant activities and lipid metabolism. The water-insoluble attribute of matcha helps in suppressing a diet-induced high level of glucose and lipid.
Aids Weight Loss
Studies reveal that the consumption of matcha is helpful for burning fat during exercise. Matcha promotes fats metabolism due to its rich constituents of catechins and flavonoids. Therefore, drinking matcha green tea before embarking on physical exercises increases fat burn by approximately 25%.
Improves Concentration
Matcha tea contains a high amount of the amino acid L-theanine. This amino acid has been proven to lower the blood pressure level thereby improving concentration and focus. L-theanine counteracts the negative impacts of caffeine found in all tea, while contributing to its mental stimulating effects. L-theanine is also helpful for reducing anxiety.
Promotes Healthy Heart
The EGCgs found in matcha offers cardioprotective benefits by suppressing vascular inflammation, thrombogenesis and oxidation. To maintain a healthy heart, drink matcha tea regularly.
Hinders the absorption of cholesterol
EGCgs reduce the absorption of total cholesterol through the formation of insoluble cholesterol precipitates that disrupt the biliary micelle system in the intestine. Therefore, more cholesterols are expelled as faeces while the blood lipid profiles are improved.
Stress-reducing effects
The consumption of matcha extract is highly recommended due to its stress-reducing effects as a result of the high amount of arginine and theanine therein. It is noteworthy that stress can lead to the onset of mood disorders, depression and unhappiness.
DISCLAIMER This post is for enlightenment purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for professional diagnosis and treatments. Remember to always consult your healthcare provider before making any health-related decisions or for counselling, guidance and treatment about a specific medical condition.
1) Dulloo, A. G., Duret, C., Rohere, D., Girardier, L., Mensi, N., Fathi, M., Chantre, P. and Vandermander, J. (1999), Efficacy of a green tea extract rich in catechin polyphenols and caffeine in increasing 24-h energy expenditure and fat oxidation in humans American Journal of Nutrition, 70(6), 1040-1045.
2) Unno, K., Furushima, D., Hamamoto, S., Iguchi, K., Yamada, H., Morita, A., Horie, H., & Nakamura, Y. (2018). Stress-Reducing Function of Matcha Green Tea in Animal Experiments and Clinical Trials. Nutrients, 10(10), 1468. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu10101468
3) Unno K, Fujitani K, Takamori N, Takabayashi F, Maeda K, Miyazaki H, Tanida N, Iguchi K, Shimoi K, Hoshino M. (2011), Theanine intake improves the shortened lifespan, cognitive dysfunction and behavioural depression that are induced by chronic psychosocial stress in mice, Free Radic Res. 45(8):966-74.
4) Vu, T., Mgebrishvili, I., Hramova, V., Korotkova, A. and Gorlo, I. The Analysis Of The Using Efficiency Japanese Matcha Tea In The Fermented Milk Products Production, Journal of Hygienic Engineering and Design, 86-90.
5) Zheng, X.X, Xu, T.L, Shao, H.L., Xu, X, L., Rutai, H., Xiao, H.H., 2011. Green tea intake lower fasting serum total LDL cholesterol in adults: a meta-analysis of 14 randomized controlled trials. American Journal of Nutrition. 94(2), pp. 601-610.
6) Xu P., Ying L., Hong G. & Wang Y. (2016), The effects of the aqueous extract and residue of Matcha on the antioxidant status and lipid and glucose levels in mice fed a high-fat diet, Food Funct. 7(1):294-300.
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