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What is matcha and is it worth the hype?

Can't stop drinking green tea? You may want to try matcha green tea instead.

Drinking endless cups of green tea has been the secret weapon of many models and celebrities to help keep their weight down. Some consider green tea to be one of the most popular drinks in the world.

If you are an avid drinker of green tea and really love the taste, you may want to consider drinking matcha too. There are claims that matcha has even more benefits than standard green tea. Matcha is more concentrated in antioxidants as a single cup may be equivalent to about 3 cups of regular green tea. That is why some say the effects and benefits can be more concentrated.

What can matcha green tea do for you?

Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse - it's essentially a concentrated version of standard green tea. Many of the purported benefits of both green tea and matcha centre on EGCG concentrations. Why is this so important? Well, EGCG is known to have cancer-fighting properties. It can protect cells from DNA damage, activate detoxification enzymes and inhibit tumor cell proliferation. EGCG is found in both green tea and matcha, but studies show that matcha green tea contains at least three times as much EGCG as regular green tea.

In addition, it's claimed that matcha green tea can affect your state of mind. Another compound found in green tea, L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation. And, when combined with caffeine, it can create a state of relaxed alertness. Which sounds just perfect for anyone cramming for an exam or trying to finish a mound of paperwork.

And if that wasn't enough reasons to love matcha, you should also know that matcha is rich in chlorophyll - it's what gives matcha its vibrant green colour. And some studies have linked a higher chlorophyll consumption with lower rates of aflatoxin-associated liver cancer.


Matcha vs Green Tea

Below is an outline of the benefits when compared to standard green tea.

MatchaGreen tea
Boosts metabolism and detoxifiesYesYes
Enhances concentration, thanks to the caffeineYesYes
Lowers cholesterol and blood sugarYesYes
High in chlorophyllYesNo
Contains the catechin EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which has potent cancer-fighting propertiesYesNo
Rich in L-Theanine, an amino acid that improves performance, focus and alertnessYesYes

How to make matcha

  1. The first step is to find a brand of matcha powder that is within your price range. There are so many on the market, which is why we've handpicked some of our favourites below. And we've included the accessories you need to get started.
  2. Add hot water (not boiled) to the powdered matcha. The temperature of the water is very important because if it's too hot, it will burn the powder and give it a bitter taste. Aim for the water to be about 85 degrees celsius. If it's too hot, simply add some cold water to cool it down. Most powders you buy will advise which powder to water ratio to use, so it's best to follow the directions.
  3. Whisk the powder into the water to create the perfect frothy liquid. If you don't have a whisk, you can use a spoon to whisk vigorously but there might be some unblended powder at the bottom of your cup.
  4. Now it's time to customise your matcha green tea. You can drink it in the pure form, but it also tastes great when you add milk and/or sweetener to turn it into a creamy latte, either hot or cold!

Editor's picks for the perfect cup of matcha green tea:

Matcha Maiden Matcha Green Tea Powder
Matcha Maiden Matcha Green Tea Powder

Nourished Life

Vital Proteins, Matcha Collagen, Original Matcha,
Vital Proteins, Matcha Collagen, Original Matcha,

iHerb

Sencha Naturals, Matcha Latte, Original Matcha
Sencha Naturals, Matcha Latte, Original Matcha

iHerb


What does the perfect cup of matcha look and taste like?

Matcha should be a vivid and bright green colour. However, the taste is quite complex. It is rich in flavour and quite aromatic; the actual taste of matcha is astringent but it leaves a sweet aftertaste as you take the last sip.


Do you need to buy a matcha whisk?

For best results, yes. The whisk available is made for matcha powder, which is why it works so well in dissolving it and creating the ideal frothy liquid.

Alternatively, you can buy a flask with a built-in whisk, or you can resort to using matcha tea bags.


Does it need to be in the form of tea?

No! The benefits of matcha are available in so many forms. The powder can be used in baking and cooking, in ice-cream flavours, in health powders and even in the form of pills that you can take to get similar health benefits.


Where to buy matcha


The history of matcha

Matcha originated from ancient Chinese traditions and over a thousand years ago, it migrated to Japan. Preparing and drinking matcha became the backbone of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Monks would sip on matcha tea as it would help to keep them calm yet alert while meditating for hours and hours.

Matcha is unlike other Japanese teas due to the way it is farmed and processed. The green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest. Then during processing, the stems and veins are removed. These properties all contribute to the intense flavour and health benefits of matcha green tea.


More on health and wellbeing

Main image: Shutterstock

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