WTH is Matcha?

You may have seen or heard of this trendy green beverage, but what's so cool about it anyways? While I'm still learning to enjoy these trendy hipster lattes, there are actually quite a few health benefits.

matcha latte health benefits

Matcha, pronounced 'MA-cha,' literally means 'powdered tea.' The matcha leaves are ground up to form a bright green powder. The powder is often mixed with water or milk and sweeteners to make a hot tea or latte. It can also be used in baked goods or to flavor other beverages.


Because matcha is ground tea leaves, it provides a more concentrated source of nutrients compared to steeped tea bags. Matcha provides a concentrated source of antioxidants, most notably, catechins and polyphenols, which help reduce cell damage and prevent chronic disease. 

Matcha is also a more potent source of caffeine, with about 3 times as much as regular tea and about the same amount as coffee. Because matcha contains an amino acid called, L-theanine, it instills a more calm or smooth alertness compared to caffeine alone. L-theanine induces relaxation without drowsiness and increases levels of dopamine, serotonin, and other neurotransmitters, which help regulate mood, appetite, alertness, concentration, sleep, and energy. Because of it's relaxing and calming effects , L-theanine, can help improve sleep, stress, and anxiety.

Studies have also shown matcha and caffeine to improve memory, attention, and reaction times.

All varieties of green tea contain antioxidants and L-theanine. But matcha appears to provide a more concentrated source.


 
matcha-latte
 

I would suggest limiting matcha consumption to about 1 cup per day and selecting a brand from a reputable supplier. While many plants, can take up lead through the soil, the green tea plant is known to absorb lead at a higher rate than other plants. Lead can build up on the leaves and because you drink the actual matcha leaves, you may be ingesting more lead than traditional green tea varieties.

To some, matcha is an acquired taste. To me, it tastes a bit like dirt or sometimes like seaweed. Others say more like spinach or grass. While it may not be your cup of tea, some people swear by it. Because of the umami or earthy flavor, some brands may be sweetened. You may prefer to choose an unsweetened variety and add your own sweetness.

Have you tried matcha? What do you think?