While its unbroken popularity is indeed true, the history of matcha tea dates back hundreds of years to the 12th century, when a Zen monk, Eisai, brought a tea seedling and its seeds from China to Japan. Below we will go into some of the most important facts about matcha tea, with a special focus on its production and its health benefits.
Table of contents:
- Origin of matcha tea
- How is matcha tea made?
- The beneficial effects of matcha tea on the body
- Effects on concentration and brain function
- The immune-boosting effect
- Possible beneficial effects on heart function
- May support weight loss
- The use of matcha tea
- Matcha tea with ganoderma fungus
- Frequently asked questions
Matcha tea is made from a plant called Camellia Sinensis, which can also be called the Chinese tea plant, so classic green and black tea and matcha tea are made from the same plant, but there are big differences in the way they are grown and processed. The plant itself began to be cultivated in ancient China nearly 5,000 years ago, but it was only about 1,000 years ago that the technology to produce matcha tea was discovered in Japan.
In the name matcha, ‘mat’ means to rub, while cha means tea, hence the term means rubbed tea. It is therefore the finished product itself, the raw material before grinding is called tencha.
One of the characteristics of the production process is that about 2-3 weeks before harvesting, farmers place shading devices around and above the plants, which allow the tea leaves to remain in considerable darkness for the rest of the harvest. This process is beneficial both for the taste of the tea and for the health benefits it provides. On the one hand, it makes the fruit sweeter, softer and brighter, and on the other, it has a positive effect on the production of chlorophyll, which is responsible for the unmistakable green colour, and amino acids.
Once harvested once a year, the tea leaves are steamed, dried, graded and then ground into powder. This is usually done in granite millstones, where a micrometre-sized powder is produced from the leaves. This powder will be able to dissolve completely when mixed with water or other liquids during subsequent use. The implication is that matcha tea is the only tea whose whole leaf is consumed, so that the health benefits of the tea leaf beverage can be much more fully exploited.
The main reason for matcha tea’s popularity among people interested in health promotion and prevention is its high antioxidant content. It contains flavonoids and polyphenols, among others, but is also quite rich in vitamins A and C, and is an excellent source of protein and iron. Polyphenols is the collective name for certain plant compounds, including phenolic acids, flavonols and flavanediols. Shading enables the plant to produce certain bioactive substances, such as chlorophyll or L-theanine.
Matcha tea can be an excellent choice for those who want a stimulating effect but have never liked coffee. In addition, the combination of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha tea is a unique combination, because while caffeine is a stimulant, theanine is a sedative. This tea also contains more caffeine than traditional green tea.
This combined effect is often referred to as ‘calm attention’. One of the advantages of this is that it can be a good alternative for people who find coffee too stimulating, or even restless. It is also worth knowing that L-theanine is a non-essential amino acid that can have a positive effect on the functioning of certain substances in the brain, such as dopamine or serotonin. Matcha tea can improve memory, attention, concentration and reaction time and reduce stress.
The high antioxidant content of matcha tea can be a great help in maintaining health, which among other things slows down the natural damage to cells. The immune-boosting properties of matcha tea are mainly due to the catechins in the tea. Catechins are a group of polyphenols found in many foods (e.g. blueberries, strawberries, grapes, red wine, cocoa, classic green tea, etc.), but matcha tea contains by far the highest levels of them.
Catechins help to fight bacteria, viruses and fungi, and are also effective in fighting free radicals that damage cells and can cause various chronic diseases. This ingredient may also play a role in slowing down the ageing process. There has also been a lot of research on the link between catechins and cancer. Several of these studies have shown that catechins can effectively inhibit the growth and proliferation of cancer cells. One possible reason for this may be that the metabolism of cancer cells may be altered, as the enzyme responsible for their growth and activity may be disturbed. Several studies have also shown that regular matcha tea drinkers may also have a reduced risk of developing certain types of cancer.
Green teas in general are known to be beneficial in preventing the development of heart disease. Their consumption can reduce triglyceride and harmful LDL cholesterol levels, but may also have an anti-thrombus effect, which may also help reduce the risk of serious cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and heart attack. Because matcha tea contains the whole leaf in ground form and is grown in a special way, these effects can be even more effective.
The weight loss benefits of green tea have also been highlighted by several studies in recent years. These studies have shown that the consumption of these drinks can effectively support fat burning and weight loss, for example by speeding up metabolism, especially in the most problematic areas of the waist and abdomen. One of the main antioxidants in matcha tea fights fats by promoting the incorporation of an enzyme that plays an important role in the breakdown of fat cells. Here we can also refer back to the cardiovascular properties mentioned above, as losing weight from fat can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Mention should also be made of the easily absorbed fibres it contains, which stabilise blood sugar levels.
The abundance of chlorophyll in the leaves, a natural detoxifying and diuretic ingredient, can help to remove harmful substances from the body more quickly.
The classic way of making tea is, of course, tea, which requires water at around 80 °C so that the valuable ingredients are not wasted. The Japanese have a special ritual for making and drinking tea. Depending on taste and preference, 0.5 to 2 teaspoons of ground tea should be mixed in about 50-150 ml of water, which can be flavoured to taste.
Thanks to its powdery consistency, matcha tea has many other uses. It can be used in smoothies, shakes, breakfast cereals, porridge, muesli, or as a flavouring or ingredient in cakes, pancakes, muffins, ice cream and other desserts. Also popular is the matcha latte, which, like the classic latte, requires hot water, honey and milk in addition to the ground coffee. In fact, the only limits to the use of matcha tea are imagination and creativity.
AWe have already seen the health benefits of drinking matcha tea, but there are other preparations that have additional positive effects, making them even more effective and healthier than matcha tea alone. This is ganoderma fungus matcha tea.
The ganoderma fungus, also known as the seal mushroom, is a medicinal mushroom that has been used by ancient Chinese cultures for its beneficial effects. Thousands of years of experience have now been supplemented by research conducted by Western medicine, which has confirmed the many beneficial properties of ganoderma fungus.
Studies have revealed the presence of biologically active and beneficial substances in this fungus, such as polysaccharides, nucleotides, terpenoids, various amino acids and proteins.
Thanks to these active ingredients, ganoderma fungus and matcha tea containing them can have several beneficial effects, which include:
- immune-boosting effect,
- anti-tumor effects,
- mitigating adverse reactions from chemotherapy and radioactive treatments,
- enzyme inhibitory effects,
- hepatoprotective effect,
- antibacterial and hepatoprotective effects,
- antidiabetic effects,
- cardiovascular supportive effects.
The ganoderma fungus is ground and added to matcha tea as a powder, so it can be absorbed as effectively as matcha tea. The combination of the two ingredients is also practical because tea is consumed regularly by many people on a daily basis, tea drinkers do not forget to drink their tea, so it is much easier to absorb these products than to consume the ganoderma fungus alone
What makes matcha tea so healthy?
Matcha tea is also a green tea, but thanks to its special cultivation and production process and the use of the whole tea leaves, it contains a much higher concentration and quantity of the beneficial substances (e.g. antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, etc.) that are present in green tea. By comparison, the classic green tea steeping method only achieves 10% of the beneficial effects, compared to matcha tea’s maximum.
Approximately how much caffeine is in matcha tea?
1 gram of matcha tea contains about 30 mg of natural caffeine, while a serving of coffee contains between 80 and 120 mg. The special active ingredient in matcha tea, L-theanine, slows down the release of caffeine, providing the body with long-lasting energy to counteract a sudden caffeine surge. L-theanine also has a calming effect.
How is matcha tea prepared?
The tea is made in the classic way, using 1-2 teaspoons and 50-150 millilitres of water at around 80°C and adding any flavourings. For easier blending, you can use a bamboo tea brush, a shaker, a blender, a hand blender or a handheld milk frother.
In what quantities should matcha tea be consumed?
Most consumers usually consume 1-2 servings of matcha tea per day.
When should we drink matcha tea, how does it affect our sleep patterns?
As there may be some differences between individuals in the intensity of the effects of matcha tea (e.g. how used to caffeine a person’s body is, etc.), it is best to take your first tea breaks as a trial run. It is therefore recommended that the first doses are taken in the morning or early afternoon, preferably not on an empty stomach. The combination of caffeine and L-theanine can help to induce a state of ‘wakeful calm’.
What kind of milk should I use for matcha latte?
VThere is research that suggests that cow’s milk, and animal milks in general, may inhibit the absorption of the tea’s beneficial components. Therefore, we recommend replacing cow’s milk with plant-based milks, such as coconut, almond or peanut milk, which can be whisked in the same way as animal milks.
How do I store opened matcha tea?
Matcha tea should be treated like fresh vegetables and stored in a cool place, even in the fridge, in a tightly sealed container after opening, as heat and sunlight can damage the tea.
Why is matcha tea more expensive than traditional green tea?
Matcha tea is a completely different and much higher quality tea than traditional green teas. Its cultivation and harvesting requires a special process, which makes it the most expensive tea to produce. This is one of the reasons why it is produced in limited quantities of a few hundred tonnes per year, as rare and special as truffles. On the other hand, it has the advantage that it is enough to consume 1-2 grams of it a day to get the maximum benefit from its beneficial effects.