There’s no better way to start the day than with a warm drink. Coffee or black tea may be the A.M. beverages of choice for most people, but if you’re not a fan of the flavor, want to try something new, or are looking for something that packs a punch nutritionally, another option to consider is matcha tea.
But is it all it’s cracked up to be? The short answer: yeah.
What Makes Matcha So Special?
“Matcha, or Japanese powdered green tea, is the special green tea used in the 1,000-year-old Japanese green tea ceremony,” says Karen Owoc, health reporter and cardiac rehabilitation clinical exercise physiologist. “This aesthetic ceremony is a choreographic ritual that prepares and serves matcha. When you have green tea, you are steeping the leaves. With matcha you are consuming the leaf itself.”
Since you’re consuming the leaf when you drink matcha, what you’re drinking is literally dense with nutrients (leaves are full of the good stuff). And nutrients, as you know, are a great thing.
Matcha is praised for being rich in antioxidants, which do the important work of protecting our cells from damage caused by free radicals. In a study done by Pharmacogn Review, matcha was shown to support blood vessel function. To get a bit more specific, the antioxidants present in matcha tea are called catechins. These antioxidants are known for increasing blood flow.
According to a study in Chinese Medicine, long-term consumption of catechins in green tea has been shown to support cardiovascular health, blood sugar function, and weight management.
But what about the day to day? A cup of Matcha tea (or smoothies!) can be great as a midday boost. It also contains an amino acid called L-theanine. Research from Nutrition Review suggests this nutrient works with the caffeine present in the tea to help the drinker remain alert and focused.
So, if you are looking for a way to boost your energy without the sugar in some energy drinks or the jitters caused by coffee, this is the bevvie for you.
How Do You Prepare Matcha?
Ready to reap the benefits of becoming a matcha drinker? Not so fast! Some brands sell pre-packaged green tea packs with matcha (which you’d steep in a mug of hot water like any other), but matcha powder is different.
Instead of steeping a teabag in hot water, sift about two teaspoons of matcha into a small bowl or wide-mouthed mug. Add warm (not boiling) water to the mug, and use a tea whisk to mix until it is good and frothy.
Matcha also makes a great addition to a smoothie, and is often used in sweet treats. Before you go to town on some matcha-flavored ice cream, however, don’t forget that sugar isn’t the best choice if you are trying to manage your weight or simply give your health a boost.
A Few Words of Caution
Although many believe green tea boosts your metabolism, the research isn’t totally conclusive on those claims. It is worth noting, however, if you’re giving up a sugary latte or soda in favor of matcha tea, you just might shed a few pounds simply because you’ll be reducing your calorie and sugar intake.
And there’s one more thing you should consider before you go on a matcha spree: A 2012 study by Consumer Lab found that many of the green tea products sold in the United States contain a small concentration of lead.
When it comes to making sure you’re getting the pure stuff, be sure to choose which brands you’re buying carefully. You should expect to spend a little bit of money on your matcha, so if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.