Matcha is the new kale. It's the trendy green appearing everywhere from the niche – the $8 cold press – to the commercial – Starbucks. But what is matcha? A veggie? An herb? Voodoo?
According to Eater, matcha is finely milled green tea powder used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies dating to the 12th century. Americans and Europeans are just recently discovering something the Japanese have known for nearly a millennium: Matcha is the Man.
Unlike regular green tea, which is made from steeping the leaves, matcha green tea delivers the full benefits of the tea leaf when the powder is dissolved in water, according to Authority Nutrition – as much as three times the benefits, in fact.
If you haven't yet tried matcha, we're here to tell you it's delicious. It has a creamy, vegetal taste akin to umami, that according to Matcha Source, comes from the leaf's high chlorophyll content. Parsley, dill, and cilantro are all high in chlorophyll, as is wheatgrass. You know the particularly bright, earthy flavor you get in all of these herbs? That's chlorophyll! Although it is traditionally consumed as tea, matcha powder can be added to baked goods, smoothies, oatmeal, and even ice cream, according to Prevention.
Still not convinced? Continue reading to learn 8 health benefits of matcha. Before you know it, you'll be eating green all day long.
1. Prevent cancer. Get this. Matcha has 137 times as much of the antioxidant known as ECCG, according to The Wall Street Journal, as does regular green tea. Antioxidants are key to preventing damage to the body's cells. And we know what damaged cells mean: cancer. So drink up. Prevent cancer.
2. Control body weight. According to Chung S. Yang, professor of chemical biology at Rutgers, one type of antioxidant known as catechins help regulate metabolism and thus control body weight. The Wall Street Journal reports catechins just happen to be found in matcha.
3. Relax the mind. Yet another miracle ingredient found in matcha is the amino acid theanine. The Wall Street Journal reports a study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition that found theanine induces a relaxed but alert mental state. This makes matcha a perfect replacement for morning coffee (especially since it contains caffeine!).
4. Boost memory and concentration. Yet another fabulous effect of theanine is its role in producing dopamine and serotonin. According to Natural Living Ideas, both chemicals are linked to increased memory and concentration. They are also known to lead to improved mood.
5. Increased energy. Natural Living Ideas reports drinking matcha tea can provide energy for up to 6 hours. What's better, is that matcha gives you the energy without the typical crash from coffee. According to The Wall Street Journal, matcha contains 120 milligrams of caffeine. As a comparison, coffee has 160 milligrams. The difference is negligible.
6. Improve cholesterol. People who regularly drink matcha tea have lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and higher HDL (good) cholesterol levels than those who do not drink matcha, says Natural Living Ideas. Furthermore, men who drink matcha are 11 per cent less likely to develop heart disease.
7. Detox the body. The chlorophyll that gives matcha its distinctive taste also imbues it with potent detox properties. Natural Living Ideas explains chlorophyll removes heavy metals and other toxins from the body.
8. Boost the immune system. Beyond the above mentioned components, matcha also contains potassium, vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, and protein, according to Natural Living Ideas. These vitamins and minerals are good on their own, but when taken together, they are a powerful boost to the immune system.
What's YOUR favorite way to use matcha? Do you drink it as a tea or bake with it? Tell us your recipe when you SHARE this article on social media!