Different to regular green tea, matcha is a very fine powder made from the whole tea leaf which is then fully blended into water, allowing people to ingest all ingredients rather than just consuming an infusion and throwing the leaves away. The method of powderising tea dates back to the usage of the whole leaf as a medical herb in China, where tea is known for its healing powers for thousands of years. In the 12th century, matcha and the knowledge about its characteristics made its way to Japan, where Buddhist monks still use it to meditate longer and more intensively.
To make Japanese matcha tea, the tea leaves are grown in the shade using large black nets or bamboo mats for the last few weeks before the harvest. In this time the leaves develop a higher concentration of ingredients such as caffeine, chlorophyll or theanine. Chemically, the caffeine in tea and coffee is exactly the same substance. However, matcha contains tannin and theanine which chemically bind the caffeine and only release it once the tea is digested. The caffeine is hence released much slower and over a longer time-frame, steadily increasing energy levels without the sudden drop known from drinking coffee or other energy beverages. A cup of matcha contains approximately 34mg of caffeine, which is more than other black or green teas due to the higher concentration of ingredients in the matcha leaves. In comparison, a cup of espresso contains about 60mg. Caffeine stimulates the cardiovascular system and can have positive effects on the mood. Furthermore, it increases focus and concentration while making you feel awake. The theanine in the matcha, which helps binding the caffeine, has positive effects on mood, concentration and energy levels as well, working together with the caffeine in the body to achieve the perfect balance between stimulation and relaxation.
In combination with a healthy diet and lifestyle, matcha can even support weight loss. Its mildly bitter taste reduces craving for sweet foods, keeping you from eating unhealthy goods. Amongst plenty of other ingredients, one of matcha’s main benefits is the high concentration of antioxidants, especially the antioxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) which stimulates hormones that are responsible for making people feel full and satisfied. The tea increases the basic metabolic rate and heightens the body temperature, forcing the body to burn more calories. A study with 40.000 participants even showed that green tea can help regulate cholesterol levels, which helps fighting excess weight in the long term. These benefits can not only be achieved by drinking matcha. The powder is a versatile addition to every diet and can be used in plenty of recipes such as smoothies, cakes, ice cream or even pesto.