Matcha Tea: 5 Smart Reasons to Drink It

My Diet Matters
matcha tea

Matcha tea is rising in popularity in the United States, but has been a beverage staple in Japan for many centuries. The US popularity of matcha tea is primarily due to its perceived health benefits. As is usually the case, glamorous models and famous pop culture celebrities have brought those health benefits to the forefront through media attention. But what does research suggest on the topic of matcha tea as a healthy beverage? Is matcha tea a healthy beverage to add or swap into your current healthy eating regimen? You decide, but here are 5 reasons matcha tea may be a better beverage to drink than whatever you are currently drinking.

So what is matcha tea anyway?

matcha tea powder

Matcha tea is different from other popular teas in how it is grown, processed, and prepared for consumption. White, oolong, black, green and matcha teas are all derived from the evergreen shrub Camellia sinensis. While the plant source is the same, it is mostly the degree of processing each tea that distinguishes one from the next.

White tea is made from the more tender parts of Camellia sinensis and is the least processed. Green tea is produced from freshly harvested leaves that are immediately steamed to prevent deterioration from oxygen exposure. Only short periods of oxygen exposure are involved in producing oolong tea. While longer periods of oxygen exposure produce black tea. Most teas require lots of sunshine, but matcha tea leaves thrive in shade. These shady conditions allow for matcha tea leaves to produce hefty amounts of antioxidants. These antioxidants are a key health reason to consider matcha tea as a drink worth considering.

The processing of the shade grown matcha leaves involves light steaming and drying. The next processing step of the matcha involves leaf debulking by removing the stems and leaf veins. After that, the final step is grinding the leaves into a fine green powder.

Most popular teas require hot water steeping for preparation. Matcha tea requires mixing the fine green powder into either hot or cold water. The end result is a frothy cup of green matcha tea.

Matcha tea: reasons to drink this super beverage

Matcha tea fights disease and is a very key reason to drink it

Antioxidants abound in matcha tea which positions it as dietary tool for fighting disease. In fact, matcha tea has more antioxidants than any other tea. In comparison to green tea, matcha tea has over one hundred times as much of a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). This EGCG may interrupt cancer cell progression at all stages of development. And, there is substantial research that supports the compounds from green teas lessen diabetes risk and lower heart disease risk through cholesterol reduction.

Matcha tea fights viruses

In addition to fending off some major diseases, the EGCG content of matcha tea positions this beverage as a healthy drink capable of fending off diverse viruses. Some researchers suggests that the antiviral properties extend to COVID-19 intervention as well. And other researchers suggest the EGCG from tea would be a safe and effective way to counter the severe inflammation that can occur in COVID-19 patients.

Protects the nervous system

Several studies have shown the beneficial effects of tea consumption on cognition and memory. Tea antioxidants like EGCG have exhibited beneficial effects in animal models showing nervous system decline. Common similar conditions found in the human population include Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. While research on this topic continues, there seems to be optimism among scientists that tea may benefit some common nervous system conditions in humans, but more studies are needed.

Matcha tea is calming and another key reason to drink

Matcha tea contains a compound called L-theanine. Many people that drink matcha tea feel a calming effect. In one small study of 30 participants, researchers found that L-theanine (200 mg) had the potential to reduce stress while improving overall mental health.

Limited caffeine crashes is another key reason to drink

Matcha tea contains a good dose of caffeine which is similar to brewed coffee. An-8 ounce cup of matcha tea has about 70 mg of caffeine. Brewed coffee has about 70-140 mg of caffeine. Although the caffeine content may be similar, the L-theanine in the matcha helps prevent the jittery feelings associated with caffeinated coffee. The L-theanine actually works to slow caffeine absorption, which helps avoid the often noted caffeine crash of coffee.

Take away on matcha tea and reasons to drink it!

Antioxidants abound in matcha tea. These compounds do a lot of good for our body and mind. The antioxidants in matcha tea help fight killer diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes. Matcha tea benefits may also extend beyond our bodies and be of benefit for our minds. Green teas may improve memory, cognition, and play a therapeutic role in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. To top that off, green teas have a wide virus fighting ability that may extend to managing the inflammation of COVID-19 (more immune boosting tips). Finally, you can feel relaxed while drinking your matcha tea knowing you will avoid any sort of caffeine crash. Enjoy this drink as a super charged health drink for both your body and mind! While you’re drinking green tea, consider adding some black foods to boost your antioxidants even more!

Sue Rose, MS, RD, LDN

Sue Rose helps readers sort through the maze of nutrition information available to the public. As a seasoned clinical dietitian/nutritionist with decades of experience, her blogs attempt to educate and inform the public at a time when there is so much information it is often overwhelming to understand. Stay tuned for clarity on a variety of topics!

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Disclaimer

Use this information at your own risk. Although I am a licensed IL dietitian/nutritionist, I am not your dietitian. The information in my blog Chew on This located at www.mydietmatters.com is for educational and informational purposes only. It is also my own opinion and subject to change in the future. Please consult with your own medical professionals for individual treatment.