Matcha Tea is one of the latest high profile foods to flood the social media circles, and may even be a topic of discussion amongst other health conscious parents waiting at the bus stop, fellow gym-goers, or those perusing the coffee and tea aisle in the grocery store. But, what is matcha tea and what makes it the current darling of those in the know?
Matcha is a finely ground green powder made from specially grown and processed green tea leaves. Unlike ordinary tea leaves, matcha is grown in the shade for 3 weeks before being harvested, which helps to increase the amount of chlorophyll present in the leaves as well as the amino acid theanine. The entire leaf (minus stems and veins) is then ground into a powder used to brew the tea. Using this method of preparation, you are consuming nearly the entire leaf, as opposed to the more common way of brewing tea where the hot water leaches the health promoting micronutrients out of the leaves and into the water to be consumed.
Matcha tea was traditionally served at Chinese and Japanese tea ceremonies centuries ago, but is coming back into favor in the modern world. With the extra effort put into growing, harvesting, and preparing the leaves into powdered matcha tea, it is considered more of a delicacy and commands a steeper price than ordinary tea. While the traditional teaspoon (chashaku), tea bowl (chawan), and bamboo whisk (chasen) add to the experience of preparing and drinking matcha tea, they aren’t necessary to enjoy the health benefits matcha has to offer.
One cup of matcha tea has been compared to the equivalent of ten cups of green tea. This is due to the entire green tea leaf being used to make the matcha tea in a kind of suspension. In addition to trace vitamins A, C, E, B-complex, and K, matcha is a rich source of catechin polyphenols, powerful antioxidant compounds. These catechins are well renowned for anti-aging properties, offer protection from several types of cancers, help with cardiovascular health by promoting the reduction of blood cholesterol and blood pressure, as well as stabilizing blood sugar levels. Matcha is also a good source of dietary fiber and at only 3 calories per cup, is virtually calorie free.
To prepare matcha tea, scoop a teaspoon of the powder into a cup, mug, or shallow bowl. Pour in 3 oz of hot, but not boiling water. Use a whisk to blend until smooth or pour through a sieve to break up any clumps. Matcha tea is best consumed before the suspension begins to separate. Matcha powder can also be used in smoothies, lattes, or sprinkled on top of savory dishes.
The above information is being offered by Dr. Shillingford, MD, PA. Dr. Shillingford’s South Florida surgical practice is highly regarded by his lap band, gastric sleeve, and gastric bypass patients. Dr. Shillingford and his staff enjoy providing patients and potential clients with the latest information on health, nutrition, and wellness.