Besides water, tea is the number one consumed drink in the world. Green tea is among the most popular types of tea as a health-conscious choice with countless health benefits. Also, the chances are if you like green tea, you’ll probably also love matcha. Many have heard about green tea, but in recent years matcha, also known as the superior form of green tea, has dramatically increased in popularity (and for good reason).
Considering that matcha is a tea that falls under the same umbrella as green tea, health professionals, nutritionists, and even health-minded celebrities have taken to harness all of the great benefits of green tea through the ancient preparation of matcha.
Consumption of matcha is not just a trend, however, it actually represents a radical shift in how people are approaching their health. What was once enjoyed around Japanese tables for hundreds of years has now spread around the world. Matcha, in other words a powdered green tea, is now put in drinks, foods, and even skincare products.
This source shares one popular way to use matcha: “With 10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea, it graduated from simply being combined with water to being sold in health-food stores as a superfood ingredient for use in baking and desserts.”
People are getting creative with the way they are using matcha, with a growing popularity unlikely to slow down anytime soon.
The Difference Between Matcha & Green Tea
As mentioned, matcha and green tea come from the same tea plant and share many similarities. Simply speaking, matcha is a more concentrated form of green tea, and therefore offers even more of green tea’s natural health benefits.
Where green tea is made by steeping green tea leaves into hot water, matcha differs by being prepared through a totally unique process. It all starts with the green tea leaves used for matcha, which are kept under a shade for the last 3 weeks of harvest to boost their levels of chlorophyll and L-theanine. This denser, more nutritious composition aids in the flavor and health benefits when matcha is consumed, where unlike green tea, the tea leaves are ground into powder and the entire tea leaf is consumed. That means matcha drinkers benefit from a more concentrated amount of nutrients and antioxidants compared to regular green tea.
According to a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, Dr. Andrew Weil, here are the matcha preparation details: “For matcha tea, unlike most other forms of green tea, farmers cover the plants with heavy shade cloth for three weeks prior to harvest in May. This causes the new shoots to develop larger, thinner leaves with better flavor and texture. Harvesting is by hand, and only the youngest, smallest leaves are selected for the best quality matcha. Farmers steam the leaves briefly to stop any fermentation, then dry them and pack them in bales for cold storage. Aging deepens the flavor of the tea, which becomes optimum after six months.”
The Health Benefits + Nutrition
So what exactly makes matcha so healthy? One study found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than a low-grade variety of brewed green tea. Not only that, but matcha has up to three times more antioxidants than other high-quality teas. Antioxidants are important to boost the immune system and can help protect from many diseases.
In 2015, there was another study done based on the dietary patterns of 90,000 Japanese people. The study concluded that those who drank the most green tea had the lowest all-cause mortality rates.
With roots in Chinese medicine, green tea and matcha have long been believed to deliver healing properties when consumed. Modern research backs this up, supporting benefits which include lowering blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Matcha and green tea can support your bodies ability in protecting against cancer and is even considered a heart-healthy food.
Matcha and green tea also contain high amounts of catechins which are known to have a positive impact on weight loss. One study divided healthy Japanese men with similar BMI and waist circumference into two groups. Over a 12-week period, the study had one group ingest 690mg of catechins and the other group ingest 22mg of catechins.
The results indicated that BMI, body weight, and waist circumference all decreased in the 690mg catechin group compared to the 22mg group.
So, how many catechins are in matcha and green tea? Matcha has 134mg while green tea only has 63mg per average serving. So while both matcha and green tea can have a positive impact on weight loss, the increased number of catechins found in matcha can have much greater health benefits when compared to loose leaf green tea.
There are also other antioxidants found in matcha and green tea that can provide various health benefits.
Matcha – 99mg
Green Tea – 7mg
Amino Acids: L-Theanine
Matcha – 45mg
Green Tea – 3mg
Green tea comes in the form of tea bags while matcha is a powder form that allows one to consume the entire green tea leaf — reaping 100% of the health benefits.
Ever wondered what gives matcha its beautiful and vibrant green color? The answer comes from a concept many have learned as early as their elementary school years: chlorophyll. In the process of photosynthesis, chlorophyll is responsible for the absorption of light. It’s what makes plants look green. Matcha is five times higher in chlorophyll than regular green tea.
According to this source, chlorophyll supports the immune system, improve liver detoxification, speed-up wound healing, improve digestion and weight control, and protects the skin. Although chlorophyll is also involved in green tea, matcha is more concentrated which provides even more of chlorophyll’s health benefits.
Overall, while matcha and green tea have their similarities, one bowl of matcha provides roughly 10x the benefits of a glass of green tea. So if you’re looking for a faster way to reap health benefits without consuming multiple cups of tea, matcha is likely the right choice for you.
Many studies have also shown that consuming matcha every day for 3 months can support healthy cognitive function, assist your body's natural detoxification and increase the body’s natural rate of thermogenesis (the rate of calorie burn). Of course, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is also very important to further maximize these health benefits. We recommend 2-3 servings of matcha per day.
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