The origin of matcha can be traced back to China during the 9th century. The Chinese used matcha leaves for curing various ailments. These dark colored green tea leaves were believed to possess amazing therapeutic properties. However, matcha green tea became popular only when its true potential was re-discovered by the Japanese Buddhist monks. By the end of the 12th century, matcha green tea was cultivated in Japan.
Owing to its miraculous health properties, matcha is now becoming popular in different countries around the world.
What is Matcha?
A unique quality of Tencha tea leaves that grow under the shade selectively are the main source of Matcha. This tea is basically a bright green color tea powder. This finely ground tea powder has an emerald color. This unique manner of growth leads for matcha to gain its exemplary properties. To slow down the process of photosynthesis, matcha tea bushes are grown in the shade. This process also stuns the growth of the plants and gives the leaves a dark colored green shade.
The tea craftsmen, handpick these leaves to ensure to include only the smallest leaves. This way they obtain the finest quality matcha tea. It is the practice to then briefly steam these leaves to preserve its original flavor and prevent oxidation. The Tencha leaves are then ground to fine powder in granite stone mills.
Matcha is honored in Japan for its exceptional health benefits. And it is also popular as a miracle plant that is rich in antioxidants and amino acids.
Some Important Health Benefits
Matcha powder contains EGCg or epigallocatechin gallate, which is a set of catechins that helps to prevent cancer. According to recent studies, matcha tea contains more EGCg than any other green tea variety in the world. It reduces the risk of developing different types of cancers such as breast, prostrate, bladder and colorectal cancer.
Three weeks before harvesting these leaves; the tea producers cover these leaves from sunlight to increase the chlorophyll production in these leaves. This process gives a bright green color to the leaves and makes it rich in chlorophyll. Apart from being an excellent detoxifier, chlorophyll also helps to maintain the alkaline levels of the blood. It detoxifies the body by removing harmful chemicals and metallic toxins.
Aids in weight loss
Regular consumption of matcha tea helps to increase metabolism and burn excessive fat present in the body. Above all, there are no side effects to this remarkable variety of green tea.
Increases concentration and memory
These leaves are rich in L-Theanine which helps to increase concentration levels and boost your memory power.
Provides relaxation and enhances mood
For over many decades, matcha tea is popular especially amongst Japanese monks and Chinese to achieve mental clarity and relaxation during meditation. It also helps to stay alert while meditating. It has a soothing effect on the brain. The unique amino acid, L-Theanine which is present in these leaves helps in the production of alpha waves in the brain.
Strengthens the immune system
Matcha green tea is rich in catechins which possesses antibiotic properties. It therefore helps to strengthen the immune system of the body. It is also rich in calcium, vitamins, iron potassium, protein and minerals.
Rich in antioxidants
Antioxidants help to fight diseases and prevent different types of ailments. A single bowl of matcha has more antioxidants than most of the other health food such as green veggies, dark chocolate and so forth. It has the highest amount of EGCg and can easily neutralize the harmful effects of free radicals in the body.
Matcha tea which is rich in antioxidants can also help to reduce glucose content in the blood. It is also effective for reducing the levels of triglycerides.
Reduces cholesterol levels
Regular consumption of matcha tea can also help to reduce LDL and increase HDL levels in the blood. Although there are no proven studies behind this theory, basic research shows that drinking matcha tea reduces your risk of developing heart diseases. As it helps to keep cholesterol levels to the minimum, it also helps to improve cardiovascular health.
Prevents renal damage
Matcha tea helps to prevent the accumulation of glycation products in the kidney and thereby prevents renal damage.
As it contains loads of antioxidants, it proves to be beneficial to the skin. It prevents inflammation caused by free radicals and also delays the aging process of the skin.
Prevents eye disorders
According to research catechins present in matcha tea helps to prevent blindness caused by cataract. Research has proved that it helps to improve vision and prevent other eye diseases.
Treats gastrointestinal disorders
Regular consumption of matcha green tea improves digestion and helps to eliminate harmful toxins from the body. Therefore it helps to improve gastrointestinal function of the body.
Protects against infections
As this tea is rich in antioxidants and EGCg, it can help fight various types of viral, bacterial and fungal infections. It also inhibits the growth of pathogens and prevents diseases such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C and influenza.
Boosts energy levels
Unlike the caffeine present in coffee, matcha contains a healthy variety of caffeine that can boost energy levels without causing drowsiness. It keeps the mind alert without causing any adverse effects on the body.
Tracing the History of Matcha Tea
Apart from the mentioned health benefits, matcha green tea powder has several other known and unknown advantages. If history is to be believed, people in China used to powder this green tea leaf and dry it into the form of tea bricks. A small piece of the dried brick was broken and stirred into hot water when required. In this way, the Chinese found it easy to carry tea whenever they travelled and it also helped to contain the flavor of the tea.
It was a Japanese Buddhist monk who brought matcha tea to Japan from China in 1100s. Drinking matcha green tea became a tradition and later on evolved into a ceremony known as the Chanoyu ceremony.
Why Is Matcha Special?
In the earlier days, only the Samurai warriors and royalty were served matcha tea as it was quite expensive. But today matcha tea is one of the most popular drinks in Japan. Unlike the other types of green teas, matcha or the powdered tea is mixed into a cup of hot water and whisked till it froths. So you drink the fine powdered leaves instead of discarding it like other green tea varieties. It is a type of special green tea where you ingest the leaves.
Some people feel that matcha has a strong and distinctive taste. It is however pleasant on the palate with a savory taste. Today matcha has several culinary uses. Owing to its amazing health benefits, it is used to add flavor to confectionaries such as pastries, cookies, candies, green tea ice creams, chocolates and cakes. Matcha based drinks are becoming increasing popular these days. You will find matcha lattes, smoothies, milkshakes and many other beverages infused with matcha.
Matcha green tea is undeniably healthy with multi faceted benefits but it must not be consumed excessively. The Japanese follow a special etiquette while drinking matcha tea- they believe that when you drink matcha, you must sit up straight and your pleasure will magnify.