Matcha or maccha is a finely ground, bright emerald-green tea powder.
It is a natural, organic green tea which has been the heart of the famous Japanese tea ceremony for over 900 years. The Buddhist monks honored matcha tea as the ‘health elixir’ for its potential to heighten the concentration and enhance the metabolism.
Originating in China in the 9th century, matcha was used as a drug for curing various ailments. However, its word somehow got elapsed in China. It was only after the Zen Buddhist monks from Japan realized its true potential at the end of the twelfth century.
Harvesting of matcha is done by hand to ensure selection of youngest and smallest leaves for the finest quality tea. Unlike other green teas, leaves used for matcha are briefly steamed to protect them from oxidation and preserve its flavor and nutritional content.
After being prized in Japan for scores of years, recently matcha has been gaining recognition in the western world attributing to its unique flavor and remarkable therapeutic qualities.
Energy + Calm
Matcha tea is unique because the process of shading and harvesting increases the content of L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps balance the caffeine. While matcha may contain the same caffeine as other types of tea, the L-Theanine is known to create calmness without drowsiness.
Another benefit to Matcha is the high concentration of antioxidants. One study found that Matcha has 137 times the polyphenols (notably, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)) than regular green tea. In fact, this type of green tea contains over 60x the antioxidants of spinach and 7x the antioxidants of high-quality dark chocolate.
There is some evidence that these polyphenols may have a protective effect against some types of cancer.
EGCG, found in high concentrations in Matcha, has been shown to increase the rate of burning stored fat as energy, as well as decreasing the formation of new fat cells. Other studies have shown that the catechins in Matcha increase the body’s rate of calorie burning each day and offered additional fat burning benefit during exercise.
A 2011 study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that the catechins in green tea had a significant effect on lowering LDL cholesterol. A 2013 Cochrane review also showed that regular green tea consumption was associated with lower blood pressure and a decreased risk of stroke.
The L-Theanine in green tea is known to help stimulate alpha brain waves. These waves are known for their ability to help increase focus and concentration.
The process of shading the Matcha leaves creates an increased amount of Chlorophyll, which some preliminary research has shown may help the body eliminate heavy metals and other harmful build-ups. Research is still lacking in this area, but many alternative doctors recommend Chlorophyll for this purpose.
The same antioxidants that make green tea protective, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), may also help support skin health by reducing inflammation and free radicals that accelerate skin aging.
Matcha assists in the prevention of cancer attributing to the presence of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) which has chemo- preventive properties.
Protection against HIV
Epigallocatechin present in matcha is also efficient in the prevention of HIV. Along with this, consumption of matcha tea may also help in protecting the brain of HIV patients. This defensive act attributes to the penetration power of epigallocatechin through the blood brain barriers which is not feasible for the commercially available anti-retroviral drugs.
A Word of Caution!
Matcha is a healthy green tea with multi-dimensional benefits. However, it contains some amount of caffeine which may trigger allergic reactions in some susceptible individuals. Allergic reactions may include diarrhea, cardiac arrhythmia, and irritable bowel syndrome. Caffeine can also cause drug interactions basis the amount consumed. If you are new to matcha and are unaware of its sensitivities, then it is always advisable to ensure natural vigilance while trying it for the first time. Prior considering matcha tea for therapeutic purposes, an expert medical opinion would always help to better understand its effects especially during special conditions such as pregnancy and lactation.
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