By: Nutrition expert- Vidula Kozarekar, Mumbai.
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Tea is second to water in terms of the frequency of liquid consumption in the world (1). It is valued for its characteristic taste and aroma, beneficial health values and social-cultural conditions (2), (3). Green tea is available for sale in three variants: In the form of leaves, in tea bags or as powder (4).
Matcha is a powdered type of Japanese green tea (Camellia sinensis) of the Tencha type, commonly consumed in the world, and the frequency of its consumption keeps increasing (5), (6). This tea type is particularly rich in antioxidant compounds due to its traditional way of cultivation (7), (8). Ideally, during most of its growth time it is shaded by natural bamboo fabric (9).
This method of protection against sun allows the plant to create high amounts of bioactive compounds, including chlorophyll and l-theanine. The results of cultivating the plant in shade before harvest are the unique taste and the colour of the resource and its infusions, but the value and content of the tea also depend on the season when the leaves are harvested (10), (11).
The high content of theanine and caffeine and low content of catechin result in higher amounts of ingredients providing the “umami” taste in comparison to other tea types cultivated in full sun, in which catechin content amplifies bitter taste (11). This is why Matcha is considered as the most aromatic green tea and a product of the highest quality.
The hazards associated with excessive accumulation of free radicals can be prevented not only by the internal antioxidant system, but also by antioxidant substances consumed with foods, particularly those of plant origin (12). Plant resources are a rich source of antioxidant compounds which, according to their definition, are characterized by delaying or inhibiting oxidative processes, protecting the organism against the effects of free radicals (13).
Health benefits of Matcha:
- Matcha is one of the richer sources of flavonoids, especially rutin. Rutin is a compound that has an antioxidant effect and belongs to the group of polyphenols. Additionally, it helps to seal blood vessels, has anti-inflammatory properties and it also supports the immune system (14). Furthermore, it also slows down the oxidation of vitamin C.
- Matcha, as a drink, is the best source of rutin, and in comparison to all plant resources, it occupies a very high position. Additionally, the infusions also contain vitamin C, which is particularly important when the content of rutin is so high (15).
- The available research on Matcha includes a small pilot study published in the International Journal of Sports Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism in 2018. For the study, women consumed Matcha green tea beverages before a 30-minute brisk walk. Researchers found that Matcha consumption enhanced fat oxidation (the breakdown of fat into smaller molecules to be used for energy) during the walk (16).
- Three constituents present in Matcha tea, L-theanine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and caffeine, affect mood and cognitive performance. The consumption of Matcha tea, i.e. the ingestion of the Matcha tea powder, resulted in an uptake of up to 137 times more of EGCG than the uptake of Chinese Green Tips green tea and three times more than any other recorded high quality green tea (17).
Difference between Regular Green Tea and Matcha Green Tea:
Both Matcha and green tea are derived from the same plant called Camellia Sinensis. While green tea leaves usually come in the form of a tea bag, Matcha is in powder form. Matcha is actually 100% green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. It is much more concentrated than regular green tea, so you only need ½ to 1 teaspoon per cup. In comparison to regular green tea, when drinking Matcha, you consume the whole tea leaf!
Matcha is a special tea with many health benefits, particularly as it has all the goodness you find in regular tea but in higher amounts. Matcha can be a great idea to replace unhealthy choices or as a supplement, but there’s no magic trick to health or weight loss. Consistency in maintaining healthy food and lifestyle pattern is the key!