Matcha is one of the healthiest teas in the world, and that’s coming from a website that has written about a lot of healthy teas. It is unique in the way that it is made and the way that it is drunk, but that uniqueness also extends to its health benefits, which are more plentiful and more potent than anything else on the market.
What is it?
Matcha tea is a type of green tea that is grown in a specific way to force the leaves to produce more of the stimulating compounds found in the camellia sinensis plant.
After the tea has been grown in this manner it is then harvested and careful processed. Unlike green tea, which is steeped in boiling water, matcha tea is consumed whole. This means that the drinker gets more of the antioxidants found in the tea leaves and only needs a very small amount to get the health benefits.
Speaking of health benefits, just what can matcha tea do for you?
Matcha Tea Health Benefits
Many of the benefits that you get from green tea you will also get from matcha tea. The main health benefits stem from its high concentration of antioxidants, and it has one of the highest ORAC scores of any tea.
We have spent a lot of time praising sideritis on this site, but where antioxidants are concerned, matcha tea is well ahead. It also contains a compound that can produce feelings of calm and relaxation, as well as an antioxidant known as EGCG, which has been connected with everything from cancer prevention to weight loss and more.
Matcha may also help to boost your concentration and your memory, while increasing energy levels and endurance, making it ideal for students studying late as well as athletes pushing themselves hard.
There isn’t much that matcha can’t do, but it still needs to be taken as part of a healthy, balanced diet and is not a magic bullet in of itself.
Matcha Tea vs Green Tea
It is often said that one cup of matcha tea equates to roughly ten cups of green tea in terms of antioxidant content. It is certainly higher in antioxidants, but this seems like a bit of a stretch. Common sense says that if matcha is grown in a way that increases the caffeine content yet one cup has roughly the same as green tea, then the antioxidant level will be the same too.
If it is true, however, and if every claim made about green tea is also true (see: can green tea cure cancer) then matcha tea could well be one of the healthiest foodstuffs on the planet.
How to Make Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is very easy to make. The traditional way of brewing it is to add a small amount (2 grams, or roughly half a teaspoon) to boiled water and then whisk it with a traditional wooden whisk until all the lumps are gone.
You consume the tea whole, as opposed to simply steeping it like you do other types of tea. But that doesn’t mean that it can be mixed easily and quickly like instant coffee. In fact, if you try mixing it with a spoon then be prepared to put some elbow grease into it.
In lieu of a traditional whisk the best way to mix it up is to use a milk frother as it only takes a minute and it gets it nicely mixed.
We find that the best way to take matcha is to simply add your daily dose to a smoothie or a protein shake. This is especially true of someone who doesn’t enjoy the taste of matcha.
You can make a latte from matcha by adding a small amount to some whipped milk and either a tea, coffee or hot water base. Just bear in mind that if you do use a coffee base then you will get an additional boost of caffeine as matcha also contains caffeine, as discussed below.
If you enjoy the taste of matcha then you can consider adding it to more decadent drinks and foods, including milkshakes and ice cream. Just because you’re using a flavoring rich in antioxidants doesn’t mean you can offset all the cream and sugar you use, but it’s certainly better for you than chemical sweeteners and sugar-laden syrups.
Caffeine in Matcha
It’s often assumed that there is no caffeine in matcha simper because it’s seen as a health food and therefore something that doesn’t contain this common stimulant, but that’s simply not true.
There is between 30mg and 40mg of caffeine in matcha, but the fact that it also contains L-Theanine means you may get an additional stimulant effect that makes you feel like you have had more caffeine. This effect is typically not as jittery as caffeine, but everyone responds differently.
What Does Matcha Tea Taste Like?
Okay, so it’s time to switch perspective, because this needs to get personal.
Matcha tea is unpleasant to some, tolerable to many and adored by others. As a lover of most teas and someone who has consumed black tea every day for over 30 years and green tea at least once a week, I didn’t take to matcha tea straight away.
The main issue I have with it is that it can be hard to blend into the water, which creates a very grainy texture.
I did get accustomed to the taste in the end though and as I grew more tolerant of it I found that I was able to drink it with less and less honey, before it got to a point where I was happy just making a little bowl of nothing but matcha and water and then knocking it back.
It should be noted, however, that I drink it for the heath benefits and if it was all about the taste, I wouldn’t choose to drink it. I would prefer black tea or a good sencha green tea any day of the week. I also made sure that the matcha I drunk was high quality, so it was never a quality issue. In fact, I have tried “lesser’ varieties in the past and if anything, the taste is actually less pungent, but it’s also considerably less healthy.