Unfortunately, not all green teas are created equally. Some have far more nutritional value than others, and Matcha is the prime example.
What is Green Tea?
All green tea, including Matcha, comes from the Camellia Sinensi plant. So how do you get so many variations of green tea? The difference has to do with the environment in which the leaves grow. And how they are harvested. However, the main factors to take into consideration are how much sunlight the plant gets whilst it grows and when it gets harvested.
Green tea plants exposed to less sunlight will often have a much higher amount of caffeine. As well as a high amount of the non-dietary amino acid, L-Theanine. Which is a known natural relaxant.
Green tea plants exposed to more sunlight are able to use the naturally occurring L-Theanine and change it into the powerful antioxidant, Catechin. You will find that if these green tea plants are harvested very early on in their growth. They will contain still contain higher levels L-Theanine and caffeine.
FAST FACT: Green tea plants exposed to minimal sunlight will also tend to be brighter in colour as they need to produce more chlorophyll than plants that have direct exposure to light.
The Three Most Common Types of Green Tea Include
This is the most common type of green tea available, as well as the daily Japanese staple. It has more direct sunlight during its growth and is produced by rolling and steaming the leaves straight after harvest.
This is one of the highest quality green teas available. It is made from the first flush of tea leaves, which are kept in the shade 20 days before harvest. The objective of this is to grow both its caffeine, amino acid and antioxidant levels far more than Sencha leaves, which are kept in full sunlight.
Tencha is of the same quality and class of tea as Gyokuro. However, the main difference is that Tencha leaves are not rolled before they are used.
Matcha, is a fine powder that is made from Tencha leaves. And unlike Sencha, which is brewed in order to make tea, Matcha is dissolved in water.
Why is Green Tea Good for You?
1. Packed with All Sorts of Antioxidants
Green tea contains various antioxidants including catechins polyphenols, flavonoids and Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG). This is fantastic for protecting the body from free radical development and can help with overall immunity as well.
2. Good Source of Caffeine
The key active ingredient in green tea is the stimulant caffeine. It is widely known and used to improve your brain function, vigilance, memory and reaction time. Though coffee is the usual go-to if you need a boost. Reports have shown that many people will choose green tea over it, if they need energy. This is because green tea doesn’t contain as much caffeine as coffee. And therefore is a lot less likely to cause the negative, jittery effects you often get.
3. Boosts Your Metabolism
Green tea can increase your natural fat burning and metabolic rate. However, different people displayed different results and it needs to be taken into consideration that it doesn’t work for everyone. Some people showed better results to caffeine than others, which on average boosts your overall physical performance by 12%.
4. Protects the Integrity of Your Brain
What makes this tea even more nutritionally valuable, is that it not only contains caffeine, but the amino acid L-Theanine, as well. L-Theanine increases the activity of the neuro-transmitter GABA, which has an anti-anxiety effect on the body. It also increases the amount of dopamine produced and the production of alpha waves in the brain. The synergy between caffeine and L-Theanine has been proven to improve your brain function, far more than either can do on their own.
FAST FACT: Green tea will not only help your brain in the short term, but throughout your life. Multiple studies have proven that Catechin, in particular, has the potential of lowering your risk of Alzeihmer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
5. Reduce Your Risk of Type II Diabetes
Type II Diabetes is a worldwide epidemic. Though drinking green tea won’t resolve the issue, if you have diabetes or are pre-diabetic. It can certainly help. Studies have proven that it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.
A review published by JAMA internal medicine shows that in 7 different studies, including 286,701 individuals. People who drank green tea had an 18% lower risk of becoming diabetic.
What Makes Matcha Unique?
Matcha has the exact same health benefits as a high grade green tea such as Gyokuro or Tencha. However, with Matcha, the entire leaf is used, and made into a fine powder. Which you can then dissolve into warm water and drink. This allows for the full scope of nutrients that the Tencha leaves provide to be utilised and absorbed by the body. Standard tea leaves which are simply brewed are not always able to allow for such a high nutrient intake as you are will only get what was able to be extracted into the water.
Matcha is known to have a high concentration of all the nutrients green tea can provide. So much so that the following was proven: 1 cup of Matcha has the same nutritional value as 10 cups of regular green tea.
What You Should Know…
1. Not only does Matcha have a far more vibrant, neon colour to it (given that it grows in the shade). But it also has a very unique taste because of how rich it is in amino acids.
2. Matcha can actually lose a lot of its nutrients if the grinding process is not executed correctly. Ideally, the leaves should be handpicked and ground by a certified tea artisan with a stone mortar.
How Can You Use Matcha?
Matcha tea is definitely not the only way to go about using this nutrition filled powder. Here are some other ways it can be enjoyed:
1. Make a Matcha Green Tea Latte
2. Add it to Your Soups and Purees
3. Use it in a Smoothie to Give It an Extra Healthy Kick
If you’re a tea fanatic, follow this link to find out why you should be drinking Yerba Mate as well…