What Are Some Interesting Health Benefits of Matcha Tea?
From major chain coffee shops to health food stores across the country, matcha seems like it’s popping up everywhere these days. But it isn’t just the latest beverage trend or a fun powder that turns smoothies green; matcha is a superfood that’s here to stay.
It’s different from other teas largely because it’s sold (and brewed) in powder form instead of tea bags, but matcha’s beneficial wellness effects also set it apart. If you’re interested in brewing up a cup of better health, take a moment to learn more about what matcha is, along with some of the key benefits matcha tea provides that can boost your overall wellbeing.
What Exactly Is Matcha?
Matcha holds great importance in several different cultures as a drink prepared and served during tea ceremonies. It’s also been in use for hundreds of years in China and Japan as an element of various Buddhist rituals. But, as mentioned, matcha isn’t the same as typical tea that comes in bags you steep in hot water. Instead, it’s made of very finely milled and powdered tea leaves that are whisked into warm water to create the beverage. Unlike many other teas, matcha leaves aren’t heavily roasted in preparation for their consumption, either.
The special conditions in which matcha is grown contribute to the high concentration of helpful compounds in it that make it so healthy. Its tea bushes are reared under the cover of shade, which helps slow down the growing process so the leaves develop higher levels of chlorophyll — a big reason why this drink is such a vibrant color and why it has a slightly grassy flavor. The lengthy growing process and low light conditions also stimulate the tea plants to produce amino acids, which are compounds our bodies need to complete a variety of essential processes. These amino acids, along with other compounds and qualities of the drink, help to make matcha surprisingly healthy in a number of ways.
Matcha Tea Is Packed With Antioxidants
In addition to tasting bright and refreshing, matcha tea is rich in nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. It’s also easier for your body to obtain and utilize the most nutritious elements of the tea because drinking matcha means you’re consuming actual particles of the leaves, which you’d remove in a tea bag after brewing most other teas. By drinking matcha, you can receive higher concentrations of healthy compounds found in all teas.
Antioxidants are substances that can help protect your body’s cells from certain types of damage. In particular, matcha contains an antioxidant called catechin, which is known for limiting the type of oxidative damage that causes cell aging. Several studies have also shown that catechins may specifically protect nerve cells in a way that could lower your risk of developing dementia. Although more research is needed, catechins may even play a role in preventing cancer.
Matcha Tea Helps Your Skin Glow
Tea…for your face? It might be surprising to learn that matcha can have beneficial effects for your skin, too. As mentioned, these tea leaves have an abundance of chlorophyll, which is the natural pigment that gives plants their green color. However, chlorophyll also has anti-inflammatory properties, which can be helpful for your skin when you ingest this compound.
These anti-inflammatory properties can reduce the overall redness that often appears along with chronic skin conditions. Matcha’s antioxidants can also help slow down the damage that can lead to visible signs of aging. And if that weren’t enough, this tea contains substances called methylxanthines, which help promote and improve circulation in your body’s smallest blood vessels — such as those in your face. As a result, matcha can help your skin appear more radiant.
If you have acne, there’s even more good news. One of matcha’s amino acids, L-theanine, is known for its ability to promote relaxation and calmness. If you experience stress-related breakouts, drinking matcha regularly may help limit some of the anxiety that leads to inflamed skin and acne.
Weight Loss Is Impacted by Matcha Tea
Like most teas, matcha has barely any calories as long as you don’t add in sugar, milk or other mix-ins, so it’s naturally an ideal beverage to drink when you’re counting calories but want something that has a bit more flavor. However, this green tea may play an even bigger role in helping you reach a healthy weight by boosting your metabolism.
A 2018 study published in International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism found that drinking matcha led to a higher rate of fat oxidation — the term the scientific community uses for “fat burning” — during exercise following consumption of the drink versus without it. This, researchers determined, was due to the tea’s caffeine content and its epigallocatechin gallate, also known as EGCG. This is a type of polyphenol, which is a plant compound that has a wide variety of beneficial health effects. Both EGCG and caffeine can boost your metabolism by increasing thermogenesis (your body’s rate of burning calories).
Matcha Tea Impacts Your Oral Health
Matcha tea can also have a positive impact on your oral health, specifically when it comes to bad breath. That’s because the antibacterial properties in matcha tea help keep the bacteria in your mouth (and, as a result, your breath) in check — much more than gum and mints. Matcha is also less acidic than coffee and other popular energy drinks, which helps to keep the enamel on your teeth healthy.
How Do You Make Matcha Tea?
Because it comes in powder form, you can easily add matcha to hot water or warm milk and stir it to enjoy a quick drink. A general recommendation is to add a teaspoon of matcha for every 2 ounces of liquid you’re planning to use. However, you might prefer your matcha a little stronger or weaker, so you may want to start small and gradually increase the amount of powder to suit your tastes. Matcha has a strong flavor that may take some getting used to.
Before brewing your matcha, it’s a good idea to sift the powder into your cup to eliminate any possible clumps. You’ll want to add the powder to your cup first, as adding it to liquid can also cause climping. Avoid using boiling liquid to make your matcha, too; the excessive heat can change the taste of the tea, and you want to preserve (and enjoy) its delicate flavor.