Matcha green tea is growing in popularity for its visual appeal and believed health benefits. You might have heard of or seen this bright green tea around, or even tasted it in everything from lattes to brownies.
It has become increasingly popular, so much so that you can probably find several variations in your local tea shop. Its verdant color implies that it is a healthy beverage worth drinking. It could be your next favorite tea. But what is matcha green tea, and why is it thought to be so good for us?
What Is Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha is a type of green tea, one of the ‘true teas’ as it comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Like many teas, it originated in China, but today the best matcha comes from Japan, specifically the Uji, Nishio, Shizuoka and Kyushu regions.
In some of these regions, people have been growing matcha tea for nearly a thousand years. There is a strong tradition of commitment and excellence when it comes to farming and preparing matcha in regions like Nishio and Uji.
It is this commitment to the values of tea making that has made matcha green tea a popular beverage around the world. It has even become popular in countries where coffee is the major drink. So you can now find match green tea in spanish speaking countries like Colombia and coffee-mad countries like Italy.
When brewed, matcha green tea powder has a sweet, grassy flavor. What makes matcha different and special, as you may have noticed, is its bright green color. Of the five basic kinds of tea, Matcha is the most vibrant and exciting.
And guess what:
It’s this color that is the secret to all its other benefits. The bright green color makes it stand out among the wide array of hot beverages now on offer in tea shops but the color is not incidental.
Matcha bushes are commonly covered for up to 20 days before harvesting, causing very little exposure to direct sunlight. This leaves the color of their verdant leaves virtually intact. The next step in the process continues to protect this lush green hue so that from plant to tea none of its vibrancy is lost.
Most teas, once picked, are treated or processed in some way. They can be rolled, crushed, roasted or fried. This exposes the sensitive enzymes within tea to oxygen. This is called oxidation, and just like an apple, the leaves will turn brown when exposed.
The difference here is that only the best, brightest buds are picked, and are then processed in one of two ways for minimal oxygen exposure:
- Gyokuro: leaves are rolled out flat before drying
- Tencha: leaves are laid out to dry before rolling
For this reason, tencha provides the greenest leaves and so they are the ones used to make the best matcha green tea. Once dried, they are de-vined, de-stemmed and then stone-ground.
It is this matcha green tea powder which is the secret to the matcha green tea benefits. The benefit of loose powder is numerous. It is the reason that matcha green tea has continued to thrive as one of the most popular teas in the world for many years.
The making of matcha green tea is an interesting deviation from the traditional methods involved in producing most teas derived from the Camellia sinensis plant.
Matcha Green Tea Benefits for Health
“Matcha is ground into a fine powder, which means you are consuming the entire leaf when drinking Matcha or enjoying a food or beverage made with Matcha. Matcha drinkers receive 100% of the benefits of the whole tea leaf, enjoying its antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”(aiya)
These are special substances called polyphenols, with a variety called catechins. They are special because they are believed to contain antioxidants, which fight aging and cell damage and an associated range of illnesses such as cancer, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
How tea is processed, brewed and served can all affect the levels of antioxidants, either drawing out or losing the catechins and their antioxidants. And it’s here that the benefits of matcha green tea come into their own.
If you plan on experimenting with making your own green tea then it is important to be aware of how your process can affect the flavor, color and health benefits of your tea.
Which takes us right back to that bright green color.
There are other green teas out there, but none quite as vivid as matcha. That’s because matcha tea is actually made using matcha green tea powder as the base. Unlike other teas, where the leaves are infused in the water and then discarded, the powdered leaves of matcha are dissolved into the water and drank in their entirety.
There are some waste and hassle with straining ingredients and steeping leaves. Whereas the matcha powder makes for a simple process that results in a vibrant and rich tea.
The powdered nature of matcha makes it very different from most other popular teas on the market. Many of the health benefits that other teas purport to have can also be found in matcha tea.
It is this which leads many researchers to believe that matcha is the tea which provides the most benefits. In taking in the whole leaf, rather than just water infused with it, we are gaining all of those catechins and their antioxidant properties. Furthermore, matcha has also lost even fewer of these in its processing phase than normal tea.
Matcha is one of the most popular teas in Japan and continues to spread around the world. So is matcha really as fantastic as people believe; does consuming the whole leaf in the form of matcha green tea powder really make a difference?
Here’s your answer:
A study by the University of Colorado found that the concentration of one type of catechin was 137 times greater in matcha tea, even compared to other types of green tea because the entire leaf is consumed.
Other studies have found that antioxidants in our diets have an important role to play in fighting diseases. Green tea, of which matcha is a concentrated type, is one of the nutritional sources for antioxidants. In fact, it has been found to have 20 times more ability to absorb these bad, oxidizing agents than pomegranates and blueberries.
One interesting element of the studies into matcha green tea benefits is in terms of mental wellbeing. We know that, so it’s good news if there’s perhaps some science to back it up!
So if you are looking for a tea that has some great health benefits maybe try some matcha. As with any medical research, many of these studies are small but they’re all positive steps and good to know!
Matcha Green Tea For Weight Loss
As with general health concerns and diseases, weight loss is another area where people are interested in matcha green tea benefits. Tea, in general, is often said to help with weight loss, let’s have a look at why and how matcha might be a part of this.
Apart from being almost calorie free, and so a great alternative to sugary drinks, there might be some benefits to green tea which can help with conditions around weight loss. You don’t have to worry about your cup of tea calories containing unnecessary calories.
The substances that have antioxidant and so potentially disease-fighting properties, catechins, may also work to stop the enzyme which inhibits fat-burning. This can lead to increased metabolism and this has been seen in some studies.
Also, the small amount of caffeine in green tea could help increase metabolic rate as well, without the jitters or stimulated appetite. It is a much more relaxed drink than coffee so the caffeine is not overbearing. Other effects linked to health, such as a decrease in blood pressure, could also be part of a weight-loss, healthy diet.
So what does this mean for matcha green tea for weight loss? Any goodness found in green tea is likely to be found in matcha too, and perhaps in a higher concentration.
Drinking tea is certainly better for a healthy diet than some other drinks. Matcha green tea is the ideal alternative to a daily pint or a drink full of sugar. Green tea is proven to soothe your stomach rather than stimulate any unhealthy cravings.
How To Make Matcha Green Tea
Now we know about matcha green tea’s potential benefits, how do we go about drinking this mystical tea? It’s been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, but don’t be put off, this wonderful-flavored tea is simple to make!
If possible, it’s best to get a set of equipment. These are available online or in stores and will enhance your brewing and drinking experience. Look for:
- Chawan – bowl to drink out of, like a cup
- Chashaku – bent bamboo spoon for measuring the matcha
- Chasen – bamboo whisk for stirring
You may also consider these Matcha Making Sets:
Once you’ve assembled your set, here’s how to make matcha green tea:
- Measure one spoonful of matcha green tea powder into a heated chawan using the chashaku
- Bring water to boil and let it cool to 175F, or use a thermometer to get it to that temperature
- Pour about 3oz over the matcha powder
- Whisk to a froth in a zig-zag or ‘M’-shaped motion using the chasen until the tea is smooth and there small bubbles on the surface
Important to this process is that there is no steeping time. This is because the powder becomes the tea, rather than being discarded, so there is no need to leave to infuse. The whisking, however, is all-important to bring the water and powder together in its trademark silky-smooth consistency.
Not to mention, it’s fun to do!
You can make a thinner or thicker tea. Simply reduce the amount of matcha green tea powder by half a teaspoon and mix with 3–4oz of water for thinner; and up it to two teaspoons and just 1oz of water for a thicker consistency.
Types of Matcha Green Tea
There are many types of matcha green tea. Some purport to be for ceremonial purpose and others boast that their tea has medicinal properties. Let’s have a look at some of the best matcha green tea on the market.
This is a standard green tea that is inexpensive and made from quality resources. “Today’s Matcha leaf comes from shade-grown green tea whose chlorophyll-rich leaves are finely ground into a brilliant green powder, prized for its abilities.”
If you are looking for a matcha to put in your cupboard and drink every day then Lipton’s Green Tea matcha may be the one for you. The green antioxidant powder is ideal if you want to reap the health benefits of a regular green tea.
Consumer Rating: 4.5/5 Stars | Read Reviews
Starbucks’ twist on a traditional matcha tea is a popular choice in its stores around the world. The “pure matcha green tea is steamed with milk for a premium cup of zen”. Starbucks matcha powder nutrition is definitely one of their healthier options.
It is the quickest and easiest option on the list. If you are looking to pick up a cup of matcha on the go then Starbucks is a good place to go. There are so many options on the Starbucks menu that can be overwhelming. Make matcha your tea of choice!
It is rich in antioxidants and provides you with far more health benefits than your regular steeped tea. The “matcha is rich vibrant green in color, sweet in aroma with smooth earthy flavors.”
Consumer Rating: 4.6/5 Stars | Read Reviews
It is a traditional concoction that is suitable for lattes, smoothies, and baking. There are multiple uses for matcha green tea powder. Once you are done making tea maybe try using the powder in cold beverages like smoothies.
Consumer Rating: 4.7/5 Stars | Read Reviews
If you are looking for luxury you have come to the right place. This premium batch of matcha purports to be naturally smooth and sweet. This is not an everyday tea. One should reserve this Aiya premium matcha for special occasions.
“Aiya has a network of over 200 farmers, yet only a few have the knowledge to achieve this premium quality tea. It contains the highest amount of L-Theanine amino acids in Aiya’s product line – a truly rare treat.
All of Aiya’s Matcha is produced in the Nisho region of Aichi prefecture, Japan, where the finest Matcha has been grown for over 800 years.”
Consumer Rating: 5/5 Stars | Read Reviews
If you are looking to extract health benefits from green tea then you should maybe try a Go Matcha Green Tea Cleanse. This matcha green tea is produced to help you cleanse and detox.
It will “help your body release, cleanse, and purify itself of toxins. Matcha green tea powder, senna leaf, and garcinia cambogia provide essential antioxidants and nutrients to support your body while it cleanses.”(Go)
Detoxing is not for everyone. If you just want a standard matcha green tea experience there are plenty other teas to choose from. However, if you are looking to lose weight, dispel toxins and incorporate a new hot drink into your health and fitness routine then you should definitely try Go Matcha Green Tea Cleanse.
Consumer Rating: 4.6/5 Stars | Read Reviews
This is the first-ever energy drink powered by matcha. It is a unique blend of old school and new school techniques. They use only their “signature blend of ceremonial grade matcha, developed in partnership with a 10th-grade tea master in Kagoshima, Japan.”
They also claim that the “combination of caffeine, l-theanine, and antioxidants unique to matcha makes for sustained, smooth energy. No crash, no jitters.” So give this drink a go if you are fond of the matcha flavor and you want a little kick of energy to get you through the day.
Consumer Rating: 4.1/5 Stars | Read Reviews
See also: Salada Matcha Green Tea
Finding The Best Matcha Green Tea
For such a special and unique tea, with great feel-good benefits, it’s always worth getting quality matcha tea. A little bit of quality can go a long way. And if you are willing to spend the money you can elevate your green tea experience from good to luxurious.
The high-quality and best matcha green tea is grown in rural areas, as the plants aren’t exposed to pollution and so don’t absorb chemicals. This makes their bright-green, chlorophyll composition even purer and more concentrated. It is the most colorful and vibrant type of green tea.
When you’re looking for where to buy matcha green tea, and especially a high-quality variety, keep in mind that in general, it is a more expensive tea. This is because of the longer and more detailed process involved in growing, harvesting, and processing.
The best matcha green tea is ground in traditional stone mills rather than electric jet ones as they produce heat which affects the enzymes and potentially the aroma.
Here are some of our tips for getting the most out of your matcha:
- Origin: look for a specific location or producer so that you can verify the conditions it has been grown in.
- Rating: ‘ceremonial grade’ matcha is of high quality – brew and serve straight.
- Storage: use a tin rather than a bag, and keep in a cool, dark place to protect the catechins. The refrigerator is perfect.
- Expiration: consume within six months to a year, and consume within a month once open.
Remember, brown color in tea leaves is a sign of oxidation, which is bad news for matcha. Test a little by smearing it on paper as it’s easier to see the color that way.
How long does matcha last?
So you have had a box of matcha in the cupboard for a while. Can you still drink it? Well, matcha powder is quite delicate and it is not a tea that benefits from being left in the dark for years.
Matcha can last unopened on the shelf for about one year. Once opened, matcha should be consumed within three to four weeks. Any longer than that and the tea starts to lose its color, its texture, and its vibrant flavor. You can maybe give it 8 weeks maximum.
If you have opened it but you are not planning on using it for a while, seal it and store it in the fridge away from strong odors.
Matcha Made In Heaven!
Matcha is a special tea with many great qualities, particularly as it has all the goodness you find in regular tea but in higher amounts. As with all research and advice, this shows that matcha can be a great idea to replace unhealthy choices or as a supplement, but there’s no magic trick to health or weight loss.
There are plenty of brands to choose from if you want a good matcha green tea powder. Now that you know how to properly make it, it is time to start brewing. It’s vibrant green color and deep flavor makes it an impressive tea to serve to guests.
Your next tea should be green. However you brew it, it’s certainly a fun, great-tasting and ancient drink we love!
Have you found any of your own matcha green tea benefits?
Share with us in the comments below!