Green magic from China

By | Food & Drink
Matcha is considered to have a lot of health benefits. Credit@Flickr

Matcha, a finely ground green tea, it has been enjoyed by the Japanese for centuries. It originates from the Camellia sinensis plant, where English tea, green tea and oolong tea also comes from. The difference in these teas might be the ways in which they are processed. With matcha, the plant grows in the shade three weeks before harvesting, then the stems and veins are removed and the leaf is milled into powder. The powdered form of matcha is consumed differently from tea leaves or tea bags. The powder aims to be dissolved in a liquid, often milk or water. Matcha may be the only tea in which the entire tea leaf is dissolved in water, which may create the maximum benefits of natural components present in the matcha tea.

Medical herbalist Sara Rooney explains the classical Japanese way of drinking matcha, this means putting the tea into a heated bowl, adding boiled water to it and then whisking it up with a bamboo whisk. She states it may be common to enjoy matcha in smoothies, lattes, lollies, noodles, granola, pancakes, energy balls and cakes. All green teas contain beneficial polyphenols called catechins, which are a type of antioxidant. Matcha seems to have more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. It also contains high amounts of a particularly potent type, called EGCG, which by researchers has been considered to protect the skin from UV radiation and tumours.

Sara states “Free radicals are cell molecules which may contribute to cell variations and cause ageing and cancer. Matcha polyphenols are believed to counteract free radicals and exert a protective effect on cellular levels.” She also explains matcha might reduce cholesterol levels, improve blood sugar regulation, increase metabolism and improve mental alertness (due to matcha containing high levels of the amino acid L-Theanine). Sara states L-Theanine aims to promote the production of alpha waves in the brain, which induces relaxation. The amino acid might also benefit the production of dopamine and serotonin, two chemicals serving to enhance mood, improve memory, and promote better concentration. Matcha is considered to be rich in vitamins, chlorophylls and fibres. It seems to contain vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium. This may help to withhold a productive general health. Sara continues referring to on-going studies, which focus on the protective effect of green tea consumption in terms of cancer prevention.

She mentions matcha has risen in popularity lately and claiming the drink has a “superfood” status and believes it may become a more normal part of a persons diet. “It has become an alternative to coffee and has many more health benefits. It has risen to “superfood” status and you are able to find the most health conscious regularly consuming it.” Sara states the usages of matcha may continue to increase; she thinks it might be incorporated into more foods and become more widely available. She also predicts more coffee shops might sell it as a healthy alternative to the latte or cappuccino and explains matcha being available in many places, for example it may be found in health food shops, specialist teas hops and online suppliers. She explains it important to buy the organic, quality matcha.

“You want pure matcha. If you are using it for tea, go for high quality, which may be more expensive, however you may also buy culinary grade for cooking purposes.

How might this tea be used in the future?

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