Matcha, Matcha!

By Erica Steinberg, UC Davis Healthy Aggies Intern

What is Matcha?

Matcha is finely powdered green tea leaves! It is a higher quality green tea that originated in the Tang Dynasty in China during the 7th-10th centuries. Powdered tea was made from steam-prepared dried tea leaves which aided monks in meditation and became a way to attain enlightenment.

While Matcha is derived from the same plant as “green tea”, it is prepared differently. The powder is loaded with nutrients from the entire green tea leaf – this results in a higher quality and amount of caffeine. Recently, Matcha powder has become very popular in specific drinks, cooking, and desserts.

Are there Health Benefits to drinking Matcha?

A Cleaner Energy Source

Matcha contains a form of caffeine that gives a “boost” of energy, without the jitters. Many people wonder if drinking Matcha is better for you than coffee. Interestingly enough, Matcha tea has a compound called L-theanine which changes the way the caffeine is digested throughout the body. Unlike coffee, this compound in Matcha encourages calmness, relaxed joints and promotes an alert brain for up to 8 hours. The body processes Matcha much slower than most energy drinks and other sources of caffeine.

Improve Mood and Increase Memory

It has been suggested that drinking Matcha can lower anxiety and promote a sense of relaxation and happiness within a half hour of ingestion. Matcha encourages balanced brain level activity because of its several key vitamin and trace minerals; as well, L-theanine seems to sharpen memory and shorten reaction times. Matcha might be an option to drink before a stressful day or huge test!

Protect Immunity and Health

Matcha helps to manage cholesterol levels through a natural process. Research suggests that people who drink Matcha tea have lower levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, as well as higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels in their blood. The antioxidants, caffeine, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals combine to boost and promote heart health and strengthen the immune system. Some research indicates that people who drink Matcha are 11% less likely to develop heart disease, then non-Matcha drinkers.

Yummy Matcha Recipes!

What do you love about using Matcha? Tell us in the comments.

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