You’ve heard of matcha tea, right? Don’t worry if you haven’t. If someone asked me last year what it was, I couldn’t have answered. The interest in the United States is relatively recent and began to spike in 2014 according to Google Trends. It is still something Americans are discovering. Matcha is green tea but it’s very different than other teas. You are probably aware consuming green tea is good for you but matcha tea has far superior health and nutritional benefits
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What is matcha?
Matcha is a finely ground green tea powder. It is a natural, organic green tea which originated in China during the 9th century. Although we always associate matcha tea with Japan, it was first consumed in China as a drug for curing different medical conditions. The use of the tea in Japan began in the 12th century when Zen Buddhist monks realized the power of the tea and began using it for health benefits, to aid in meditation, and during ceremonies.
Matcha tea comes from a shade-grown leaf called tencha. The bushes are grown in the shade to slow down photosynthesis and speed up growth. As a result of minimal sunlight, the leaves are a darker shade of green and this enhances the production of amino acids and chlorophyll. There are benefits to this and we’ll cover that later. The leaves are harvested when the plant is young and are hand selected to ensure a premium product. Once the leaves are picked, they are quickly steamed to protect them from oxidation and to preserve their flavor and nutritional value. Other teas are not harvested and prepared this way.
Finally, the leaves undergo a milling process using granite stone mills that yield a bright, emerald green powder. The powder is then dissolved in hot water to create the traditional hot drink. With matcha, you consume the entire leaf in the form of the powder whereas you steep other types of tea leaves to prepare them. Intrigued yet?
As matcha tea has become more popular in the western world, people have used the powder in smoothies and other preparations that are not traditional in Japan.
What are the benefits of drinking matcha tea?
Now, that you know how matcha differs from other green teas, let’s look at the health benefits. There are many! When I began to get more familiar with matcha tea, I thought of all the time I lost by not starting to drink it earlier on in life. But that’s OK, I’m on the right track now!
In general, drinking more tea is a big step in improving your health routine. Whether it’s matcha tea, other forms of green tea, or black tea. Consuming tea is a good thing. Here is an interesting blog post about the general health benefits of incorporating tea in your diet and how to select good tea.
Matcha tea is very rich in antioxidants. According to current research done by Tufts University, matcha contains more antioxidant properties than any known “superfood”. And it’s not a nominal difference. Antioxidants help prevent aging and chronic diseases. The more you can consume, the better you are equipped to fight off infections, diseases, and the negative effects of our environment. Green tea contains a potent class of antioxidants known as catechins and they aren’t found in other foods. Not only do they counteract free radicals but they also have cancer-fighting properties. Definitely, something we want and need in our bodies! The level of catechins is higher in matcha than any other teas.
Matcha doesn’t contain any calories (it has a few, literally) and is used in aiding weight loss because studies suggest it boosts metabolism and burns fat. Unlike appetite suppressants, matcha doesn’t raise your blood pressure or heart rate. This makes it safer than some of the medications and supplements that are used for weight loss. Just keep in mind, it does contain caffeine. A study documented in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reported that consuming matcha green tea can increase the rate at which the body burns calories by nearly four times the normal rate. One additional study that I found interesting reported that consuming green tea extract over the course of ten weeks, boosted endurance during exercise up to 24%. The benefits are truly amazing.
Remember earlier I mentioned Zen Buddhist monks recognized the benefits of matcha in the 12th century? They used it frequently during meditation practices. Meditation requires long hours of sitting and the monks needed to remain calm yet alert. Matcha is rich in an amino acid called L-Theanine and it promotes a state of relaxation and sense of well-being. L-Theanine creates alpha waves which lead to a relaxed yet alert state. All teas contains this amino acid but matcha has a much higher concentration of it. In addition, L-Theanine helps to block the side-effects of caffeine so you don’t get jittery. Also, it promotes concentration and helps with memory.
Since the tencha plants are grown in the shade, the amount of chlorophyll in the leaves is higher and another benefit can be reaped. The chlorophyll is a detoxifier and helps the body eliminate chemicals and other unhealthy bi-products of daily life. Drinking matcha tea every day is a natural daily detox.
I couldn’t even begin to list all the studies being conducted with regards to cancer research. There is a profound amount of research on the effects of green tea compounds on cancer and chronic diseases. There are studies showing promise in leukemia trails, reducing the effects of smoking and resulting lung cancer, reducing prostate cancer markers, improving periodontal health, and much more.
In summary, it’s a health and nutritional miracle product! This is definitely one of the most beneficial foods I have ever come across. There’s no way from this day forward, I won’t consume at least one cup of matcha daily. However, three would be ideal!
A good source for matcha tea
Ingenium Naturals doesn’t just have matcha tea available. They have a huge variety of natural health supplements, essential oils, natural beauty products, and a variety of teas. The co-founders, Barbara Colacci and Massimo De Cosmo, started the company because they wanted to provide premium products for consumers. Too many companies out there are selling products touted as healthy or natural but the reality is they are not pure or ethically produced products. Organic ingredients are sought out for all of the Ingenium Naturals products whenever they are available. Their mission is to provide the customer with premium natural health and beauty solutions, through unparalleled dedication to the quality of the products, and to the community.
All teas from Ingenium Naturals are ethically produced and farmed at high altitudes without harsh pesticides. You can be confident you are getting an authentic, premium product from this company. All of Ingenium Naturals teas meet Japanese Agricultural Standards. No artificial colors or flavors are used in their products. What’s really wonderful is they will send you a sample of the matcha (among others types of tea they carry) so you can try it out before you buy a bigger package. Sample are just $1 and their shipping is free on orders of $50. If you decide to get samples, I’d get as many as possible as there are so many options and wonderful products offered by this company! The shipping is just $7 if your order doesn’t meet the minimum for free shipping.
I have been enjoying matcha tea from Ingenium Naturals and they have agreed to offer my readers a 25% discount on purchases. The discount applies to anything on their site. At the moment, I’m focused on their tea and I wanted you to know how wonderful it is and the benefits of drinking it. I’m also enjoying their wellness tea blends which I will also share more details about next week.
Ingenium Naturals offers several matcha teas and I have the vanilla matcha and blueberry matcha. These teas are absolute perfection. They are naturally flavored and also have a touch of pure cane sugar for sweetness. They make a beautiful hot drink and are also ideal for healthy smoothies.
If you are not looking for something with flavoring, Ingenium Naturals also has a premium ceremonial grade matcha. Their premium Ceremonial Grade Japanese matcha is blended with Ayurveda’s purest quality gymnema sylvester. This proprietary blend provides the exceptional benefits of matcha and the highly beneficial glucose-regulating properties of the gymnema sylvetsre. A Ceremonial Grade matcha represents the finest quality of matcha available to the world.
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Other ways to enjoy matcha tea
As matcha has become more popular in the western world, creative ways to consume it have popped up. Not everyone has acquired the taste for the umami flavor of matcha tea and that’s okay! If you aren’t a fan of the traditional preparation, then consider other ways to consume the magical powder. There are too many health benefits to pass up incorporating this into your diet. Here are some other simple and healthy ways to enjoy your matcha!
- Combine it with yogurt and freeze it in molds to make yogurt pops. Vanilla low fat yogurt or plain yogurt works beautifully. You can add a little honey for extra sweetness and fruit. Bananas and blueberries are terrific additions.
- Make a smoothie. In a blender, combine 1 frozen banana, 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey, 1 cup of your favorite milk product, 1 to 2 teaspoons of matcha, and puree until smooth. This is a yummy treat!
- Add steamed milk to make a matcha latte or cappucino. First combine the matcha with 2-3 ounces of hot water and then add the steamed milk to create a creamy latte drink. If you want to sweeten it, go right ahead. A little sugar or honey is not going to take away from the health benefits of the matcha powder.
Get creative and do anything you can think of with the matcha. Incorporate it into recipes for ice cream, vegetables, snacks, breads, and whatever else you can think of. You will find hundreds of recipes on line that look delicious and use matcha. There’s a way for everyone to get some matcha in their diet.
Enjoy matcha and be healthy!
*This post is sponsored by Ingenium Naturals. Opinions expressed about the products are my own.