One of the hottest drinks popping up in health food stores and trendy soho cafes is matcha; a green tea which originated in Japan over a thousand years ago. During long hours meditation, monks would drink the super-tea to remain alert yet calm. When I first learned about this combination, it seemed too good to be true! Why hadn’t I tried this drink before, and where could I get some right now? My morning coffee may give me the kick I need, but definitely doesn't calm me from the jitters that follow.
Keep reading to learn about the benefits of this magical green potion, which can be served hot in the winter time, or over ice to refresh in the summer. (Bonus: if you get to the end of this article, there may or may not be a delicious recipe for matcha overnight oats from @rachelmansfield waiting for you!)
So, what exactly are the benefits that make this drink so popular?
It all starts with L-Theanine, an amino acid present in the tea that promotes a relaxed state of mind.. A quick neuroscience lesson: while the cortisol hormone which contributes to stress will ignite beta waves in the brain making you feel excited and agitated, L-Theanine sparks alpha waves, which lead to the state of relaxed alertness that we all yearn for. It’s also the reason that you won’t be getting the shakes and caffeine crash that normally follows your daily cup of joe. This amino acid is present in many different teas, but matcha is incomparable as it can contain up to five times more of it than other types of regularly brewed black and green teas.
Let’s put it this way: drinking regular brewed tea, which is simply tea leaves infused in water, is similar to boiling spinach, throwing out the remnants and only drinking the liquid. You’ll be getting some of the nutrients from the vegetable, but you’re actually throwing away the most nutritious part. With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaf since it is made by literally taking the entirety of the leaves and grinding them into the bright green powder you later dissolve into a cup of water.
Another great benefit to drinking matcha are the antioxidants. These are chemical compounds that help prevent chronic diseases and aging. In other words, the more you consume, the better your body is equipped to fight nasty infections and colds (some wrinkle protection doesn’t hurt either). Scientists at Tufts University recently tested the levels of antioxidants in matcha using the ORAC method (oxygen radical absorbance capacity). What they found is that matcha’s ORAC rating is an astounding 1573 units per gram, while other notoriously antioxidant-rich foods like pomegranates and blueberries only compare with about 105 and 93 units per gram. Safe to say, matcha reigns supreme in this match-up! Some researchers also found that consuming 2 - 4 grams of matcha powder daily for 2 months helped improve brain performance in their vast subject pool (testing the young and elderly alike), compared with those given a placebo powder.
Now that you know all the great health benefits of matcha, it’s time to go get a glass for yourself!
As promised, if you want to discover the benefits of this super-tea for yourself, be sure to check out Rachel Mansfield’s recipe for Vanilla Matcha Overnight Oats here and let us know how you incorporate matcha into your wellness routine below!