A health trend that started centuries ago…
We have a lot of things to thank the orient for.Be it Buddhism, Zen philosophy, silk, gunpowder, martial arts, or even the sushi – the gifts of Orient have never ceased to amaze and overpower the world.
And if one has to identify which super-important commodity of the East changed entirely the world history (and the present as well) the most, it has to be the humble tea.Discovered accidentally by the Chinese emperor Shen Nung, circa 2737 BC, tea occupies a special and warm place in the hearts of its millions of lovers worldwide.
While the amazing health benefits of tea have been long discussed and established, a lot of stories still remain untold about a very specific exotic breed of green tea – Matcha.The name Matcha is a combination of two words “Matsu” (to rub) and “Cha” (tea) extracted from the Mandarin dialect of China.
This indicates that the tea leaves are rubbed-together and powdered.But what is so great about this particular green tea that iconic brands such as Pepsi and Starbucks have added it in their long list of trending beverages?
Why is it that this ancient brew has suddenly become a $ 2.62 billion dollar industry?How come this simple green tea is creating waves of popularity among celebrities and Hollywood A-listers?Before answering all of these, let us first understand what Matcha actually is.
Matcha – Taking a leaf out of Japan’s book of health and wisdom
Matcha is an antioxidant-loaded powder composed of green tea leaves. This miracle ingredient is considered to be ten times as potent and effective as the regular green tea.
This exotic drink cites its origin in Japan. The green tea leaves are meticulously plucked from the plant “Camellia sinensis” and finely ground into a powdered form.Three to four weeks prior to harvesting, the green tea plant is kept covered so as to preserve the chlorophyll and increase the theanine and caffeine content of the leaves.
The leaves are picked judiciously and then subjected to careful processing in order to preserve the nutrient content and the vivid green color.
The Powerful Elements of the Miracle Drink
The overwhelming health benefits of Matcha have made it the talk of the town. Matcha is a holistic nourishing beverage as it enables the consumption of the complete leaf in a powdered form without the loss of any ingredient having nutritional value. The powerful elements which make a cup of Matcha worth sipping every day are discussed below.
- Matcha contains an effective set of antioxidants known as catechins. Specifically, the catechins known as EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) are well-known for their anti-cancer properties. EGCg comprises around 60% of the total catechin content of Matcha.
- Cell-damaging free radicals are synthesized in the body as a result of various metabolic processes and exposure to chemicals, UV radiations, pollution etc. Free radicals initiate chain reactions which lead to cell damage.
- Catechins counteract the harmful effects of these free radicals which might have detrimental effects on the cells and the DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid).
- Consumed on a regular basis, catechins exhibit anti-aging properties and promote the restoration of the integral well-being of the body.
- Matcha is a rich source of L-theanine- an incredible amino acid. This amino acid has the unique property of creating a state of tranquil watchfulness in the body. Thus, Matcha is the drink of choice for the Buddhist monks who meditate by sitting for hours together.
- L-theanine exhibits its effects by stimulating the brain to generate alpha waves which induce a state of relaxed watchfulness in contrast to the beta waves generated during stressful times which induce excitement and agitation in an individual.
- L-theanine improves concentration, learning ability and memory and counteracts the detrimental effects of caffeine.
- As compared to the regular green and black tea, Matcha contains up to five times more of L-theanine.
- Matcha is a source of the indispensable mineral – potassium.
- Potassium plays a vital role in muscular contractions, regulation of body fluid levels,maintenance of healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
- It also contributes to the maintenance of the overall cardiovascular health and transmission of nerve impulses.
- Matcha nourishes the body with imperative vitamins such as vitamin C.
- Vitamin C boosts the immune function of the body and thereby prevents various infections.
- It is a powerful antioxidant and protects the body from oxidative stress. It prevents the skin from the damaging effects of sun rays.
- It contributes to the maintenance of the elasticity of the collagen fibers.
- It plays a crucial role in the growth and repair of the tissues of the body and is essential for effective wound healing.
- It is responsible for the absorption of iron in the body.
- It helps in maintaining the health of blood vessels, gums, teeth, and bone.
- Matcha contains traces of vitamin A as well.
- Vitamin A is essential for appropriate vision.
- It plays a crucial role in cell division and growth.
- It is essential for reproduction.
- It a secret ingredient which is responsible for flawless and wrinkle-free skin.
- It supports the immune system and reduces inflammation in the body.
- The fiber content of Matcha helps reducing blood pressure and inflammation.
- It regulates the blood sugar level and reduces the risk of development of type 2 diabetes.
- It helps in attaining healthy body weight.
- It normalizes bowel movements and thereby prevents constipation and maintains bowel health.
- It lowers cholesterol levels by depleting the stores of low-density lipoproteins in the body.
Caffeine, when consumed in optimum levels, can have the following health benefits:
- It reduces the risk of stroke.
- It reduces the risk of certain cancers such as the cancer of mouth, throat, and liver.
- It is a powerful stimulant, thus it increases alertness and concentration.
- Research from Harvard School of Public Health suggests that regular consumption of up to 200 mg of caffeine in a day can boost long-term memory.
- It reduces the risk of Parkinson’s disease and type 2 diabetes.
- A study published by the Butler University in the year 1950 states that chlorophyll promotes wound healing.
- It also helps in detoxification of the body. It helps to get rid of certain carcinogens and toxic metals.
- Acts as a potent antioxidant and prevents oxidative cell damage.
- Provides protection to colon cells and their DNA from damage caused by fried food.
- It is a rich source of the vital mineral magnesium.
Cherry Pick Your Matcha
Matcha is best when it is in the form of a bright green powder.
The bright green color symbolizes the freshness of the ingredients.
A dark green powder indicates that it is not fresh and the active ingredients have weakened with the passage of time.
Superior quality and fresh Match is expensive.
Thus, avoid picking a low priced product as it may have a sub-standard quality.
Preparation of the Drink
- One teaspoon of Matcha powder is sifted in 125 ml (four ounces) of hot water. The water should not be heated up to its boiling point.
- The preparation is carefully whisked to get rid of any lumps and get a smooth consistency.
The preparation is ready to drink!
The omnipresence of Matcha
The internet is brimming with recipes and preparations with Matcha as a chief ingredient. This pulverized green tea is now a key player not only in refreshing beverages but also in puddings, ice creams, cakes, fudges, smoothies etc.
Some of the trendy preparations with Matcha that can send your taste buds to ecstasy are:
- Matcha mug cake
- Matcha mint smoothie
- Matcha and pear smoothie
- Matcha and coconut ice cream
- Matcha cucumber lemonade
- Matcha muffins
- Miso eggplant and Matcha rice
- Chocolate Matcha butter cups
- Matcha dark chocolate date bars
- Matcha coconut latte
- Chia seed and Matcha pudding
- Matcha green waffles
- Matcha donuts
- Matcha and chocolate chip cookies
Matcha for a Flawless Skin
Matcha can give phenomenal results when it comes to skin care.
It not only nourishes the skin when consumed on daily basis but can also serve as an amazing face pack.
But how does it do that?
- Matcha is packed with powerful antioxidants which trap and unplugs the free radicals present in the skin. This antioxidant property helps in thwarting formation of wrinkles, blemishes and other skin problems.
- Dermatologist Judith Hellman from New York suggests that the anti-inflammatory action of the pulverized tea helps in treating skin issues such as rosacea, acne etc.
- When used in combination with certain other active ingredients like chamomile oil, yogurt, white clay, honey, and egg yolk, Matcha can render a soothing and refreshing effect on the skin.
So inculcate a Matcha face pack or scrub in your beauty regimen and cut a dash with your glowing and youthful skin.
Matcha – Don’t forget these before starting your own Matcha routine
Before choosing Matcha beverage as your daily health drink, you should be aware of the following facts:
- Green tea leaves might have a high content of lead as the plant might absorb it from the environment. Since Matcha preparations involve the consumption of the whole leaf, the possibility of excessive lead ingestion is higher in case of drinking more than one cup daily. Children should be refrained from consuming Matcha beverages.
- Matcha drinks contain approximately three times more caffeine as compared to the regular cup of steeped tea or brewed coffee. Thus, it is advised to consume Matcha beverages approximately six hours before hitting the bed to ensure a sound sleep.
- The National Institute of Health (NIH), USA proclaims that long-term green tea consumption might cause constipation or stomach upset in many individuals
- NIH states also that it might have fluoride, arsenic or lead contamination.
- NIH advises that Matcha preparations should not be consumed by children, pregnant women and lactating (breastfeeding) women.
Matcha tea – the final verdict
If one had to sum up the innumerable health benefits of Matcha tea in a nutshell, it would be:
- It is a powerhouse of antioxidants – the elements of diet that help prevent aging and reduce the risk of cancer. Matcha’s antioxidant content supersedes that of any known superfood.
- It boosts metabolism and immunity.
- It filters out the toxins from your body.
- Matcha calms the mind while at the same time increases your concentration.
- It lowers blood sugar and adds wholesome vitamins and minerals in your daily diet.
Undoubtedly, Matcha helps you to stay in the pink of health.But one should be wary of the lead toxicity and thus choose a brand which is authentic and has met approvals from credible healthcare bodies.Additionally, it is always better to consult a registered physician in order to check your underlying health conditions before opting for Matcha.
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