5 Surprising Things in a Cup of Matcha Tea
Traditionally, matcha is served in small cups and drunk in traditional style with a small bamboo whisk, which is used to froth the drink and make it light and foamy. Matcha has been used in Japan for many centuries, but the drink has recently grown in popularity across the world. The finest quality matcha tea comes from Japan.
An Amino Acid that Calms You
If coffee makes you anxious, matcha is an alternative that’s less likely to give you the jitters. Matcha contains L-theanine, which research shows has a calming effect on people who consume it regularly. It activates alpha waves in the brain that give you a sense of wakeful relaxation. If you’re trying to avoid the stimulant effects of caffeine but still want to drink something that helps you wake up before work or school, then consider a green tea beverage made from matcha powder instead.
More Antioxidants Than Brewed Green Tea
Matcha has more polyphenols than brewed green tea. According to research published in the Journal of Chromatography, matcha has 137 times more polyphenols than regular green tea. Antioxidants fight free radical damage that contributes to aging and chronic health problems like cardiovascular disease and cancer. The polyphenols in matcha tea also have an anti-inflammatory effect that’s beneficial for health. Tip: You’ll absorb more polyphenol antioxidants from matcha or brewed green tea if you add a squirt of lemon.
Less Caffeine Than Coffee
Matcha contains caffeine, but not as much as coffee. One study found that the L-theanine content of matcha offsets the stimulatory effects of caffeine, so you can drink it at any time of day without worrying about a crash. And remember, matcha isn’t just for drinking: Add it to smoothies and baked goods for a boost of antioxidants and flavor.
Surprisingly, matcha contains significant amounts of vitamin C. A study found that infusions of matcha tea include from 32.12 to 44.8 mg/L of vitamin C. The amount varies with the temperature of the water used to make matcha and the type of matcha. In most cases, the amount of vitamin C in matcha is about double the vitamin C in brewed green tea. Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin important for protecting tissues, particularly the collagen that makes up connective tissues, from damage and wound healing. Plus, vitamin C supports immune health.
Matcha also contains modest quantities of potassium, a mineral, and electrolyte that helps with blood pressure control. Getting enough potassium helps offset the negative effects of sodium on blood vessels and heart health. The best sources of potassium are fruits and vegetables, but matcha also makes a minor contribution.
The Bottom Line
Matcha is the powdered green tea used in the Japanese tea ceremony, but you don’t have to be a monk or a geisha to enjoy this tea. Use matcha as an alternative to coffee or soda. If you’re used to drinking coffee or soda with caffeine, switching to matcha will reduce your caffeine intake and give you the energy boost you need without the crash that comes from too much coffee.
Some people even add matcha powder to smoothies or baked goods for more antioxidant benefits. You can find many recipes online for creative ways to use matcha. If you are looking for an alternative to coffee drinks, matcha can be a great choice for you. Enjoy!
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Gomez-Ramirez M, Kelly SP, Montesi JL, Foxe JJ. The effects of L-theanine on alpha-band oscillatory brain activity during a visuo-spatial attention task. Brain Topogr. 2009 Jun;22(1):44-51. doi: 10.1007/s10548-008-0068-z. Epub 2008 Oct 9. PMID: 18841456.
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