Matcha green tea - cult product or worth adding to your diet?

Kombucha and matcha green tea have somewhat exploded in the past couple of years amongst the health and fitness market. They probably run smashed avocado close for insta-popularity now!

As with so many products on the market these days they don't always come through on their supposed health benefits and the science doesn't always back them up either. But does Matcha maybe deserve some of the attention it has been getting?

First up, what is matcha green tea?

'Matcha' literally means 'powdered tea', so it is basically powdered green tea leaves. Whereas you would normally discard the green tea leaves, along with many of their health benefits,  in matcha green tea by keeping the whole leaves you're getting all of the benefits too.

The harvesting process also differs slightly too, matcha tea leaves are kept in shade towards before cropping in order to develop a deeper and more intense flavour. Usually matcha is made from very high quality tea too, although as with any product once it becomes popular some companies will cut corners and sell inferior products at premium prices, matcha is no different and its important to ensure the matcha you're buying is good quality and well sourced. 

 

What about the benefits?

There are many supposed benefits associated with matcha green tea, however what does the science really say about the benefits we can get from it?

Recent research has found that matcha has 137x the antioxidants found in normal green tea. Specifically catechins which are a natural phenol and antioxidants found in plants, benefits of which are fat oxidising, stimulating metabolism and cancer prevention. So if you are looking for a way of increasing your consumption of catechin antioxidants then matcha would be a good addition to your diet. This doesn't mean you'll automatically burn more fat and fight off cancer, but it does show it is a healthy addition to your overall diet. 

A key benefit felt by many is the Increased mental focus - without the crash. If you have ever had the buzz from a strong coffee whereby your productivity went through the roof but the subsequent energy crash went through the floor after, then maybe switching to a matcha green tea would benefit you. The combination of the amino acid theanine and caffeine in matcha green tea has been shown to help gain both mental focus and energy. In addition to this many people report a feeling of calmness, rather than the sometimes frenzied caffeine buzz you can get. As a side note, theanine has been shown to help induce alpha-frequency brain waves, this is associated with a wakeful calmness and one of the key reasons matcha green tea and mediation are a great pairing. 

Other health benefits which look but promising but still require more research included: improved recovery post workout, promoting cell strength, boosting immunity and helping both blood sugar and cholesterol levels. 

 

A final word

Matcha green tea like many health foods certainly does carry many benefit, of which are backed by strong scientific research, however, it's important to know it is not a holy grail of health, no food is. But the benefits listed above are certainly worth taking note of and if you can find a way to incorporate it in to your diet in a way which you enjoy then go for it!

 

Couple of research pieces for you browse over whilst sipping your matcha latte

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14518774

http://www.lto3.nl/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Article-from-Kimura-etal.2007-L-Theaninereduces-psychological-and-physiological-stress-responses.pdf 

We are now serving an iced vanilla matcha latte at Nourish. Having tried so many different ways to get this in to our diets, this was by far the best and tastiest as well as refreshing too.