Smooth, rich, and comforting, matcha has been a favorite drink across Japan for centuries. As the powdered green tea grew popular in recent years across the West, so did the buzz about its many healthy perks. This earthy ingredient is as perfect for lattes and desserts as it is on its own, prepared with hot water or milk. Read on to learn all about the health benefits of matcha tea.
A cup of matcha tea has roughly the same amount of caffeine as a shot of espresso or cup of brewed coffee on the weaker side, which makes it a suitable alternative to a daily latte or cup of joe. But unlike coffee, matcha boasts an abundance of L-Theanine, an amino acid that brings about a sense of calm, steady energy. This balances out the caffeine content in matcha, helping us stay alert without giving us those too-familiar java jitters. In other words, bright green matcha is as versatile as it is beautiful.
Matcha has more than ten times the antioxidants of a typical cup of green tea. That’s because when we drink a cup of matcha, we’re ingesting the entire tea leaf, which has been ground into a fine powder and dissolved in milk or water. When we’re drinking a blend made of dried green tea leaves, however, we still enjoy plenty of health benefits, but since we toss the leaves once they’ve finished steeping, the nutritional perks are lower. For that reason, matcha packs quite a punch for those of us looking to add superfoods into our daily routines. Catechins, a specific type of antioxidant found in matcha, are associated with cancer prevention, weight management and the ability to lower cholesterol.
Mostly grown and ground in Japan, matcha is actually thought to be Chinese. Green tea was powdered and dried into bricks as far back as the Tang Dynasty when people could break off small pieces and stir them into hot water to produce a calming yet energizing drink. Brought to Japan by a Chinese monk who later became known as the father of Zen Buddhism, matcha -- which loosely means “powdered tea” -- became a popular drink among Samurai warriors and members of royalty.
Matcha eventually became available to Japan’s general population, who enjoyed its earthy taste, enlivening energy, and gentle health boost. In the 21st century, word began to spread of its antioxidative properties, distinct flavor, and versatility. Today, matcha cakes, lattes, and smoothies can be found on cafe menus and Instagram feeds across the globe.
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