Most days, Dominique Fluker begins her mornings with matcha. The powdered green tea that is native to Japan has become a mainstay in the Los Angeles-based journalist’s morning routine after first trying it at a wellness event about a month ago.
“I was instantly hooked because I didn’t have a crash-and-burn at 2 p.m. like I usually do with coffee,” she shares. “I didn’t have to refuel and buy more caffeine later in the day.”
On top of that, Fluker says matcha has helped mellow out her moods and, combined with her Pilates practice, she feels more grounded in her body.
“I work for an East Coast publication, so I start my days at 4:30 in the morning. I’m up writing, editing and covering news and doing it all. Then I go to school three times a week in the afternoons,” Fluker explains. “So my energy has to be there, my focus has to be there. And matcha has done a lot for me and my digestive system.”
Fluker is far from the only matcha fanatic. A report published by Reports and Data determined the global matcha tea market was worth $3.27 billion in 2021, and popularity has only grown since then. But do the wellness promises deliver? We looked into the benefits of matcha.
What is matcha?
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves that are picked, steamed and then dried before being ground into a fine powder, explains Dr. Raghu Kiran Appasani, mental health advisor to MUDWTR, integrative and addiction psychiatrist, and founder of The MINDS Foundation.
“Matcha is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies and is known for its vibrant green color, delicate flavor, and unique health benefits,” he says. “The shade-growing process increases the chlorophyll and amino acid content of the tea leaves, which gives matcha its distinct umami taste and nutritional properties.”
Benefits of drinking matcha
Matcha is naturally rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Below are some of the key nutritional benefits of drinking matcha:
- Antioxidants: Matcha is high in antioxidants, particularly catechins, which are known to protect against cell damage and may help lower the risk of certain diseases.
- L-theanine: Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to promote relaxation, improve mood and reduce stress. It also helps to enhance alertness/cognitive function and balance out the potential “crash” effect of the caffeine.
- Fiber: Matcha is a good source of fiber, which can aid digestion and promote regular bowel movements.
- Vitamins and minerals: Matcha is a good source of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals such as potassium and iron.
- Liver health: Matcha has been shown to have liver-protective effects and may help reduce liver damage caused by toxins.
- Heart health: Matcha has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve cholesterol levels.
- Brain health: One study found that consuming two grams of green tea powder daily for three months improved brain function in older adults.
- Weight management: The polyphenols in matcha can boost metabolism and may help with weight loss.
Benefits of matcha vs. coffee?
Matcha contains about 70 milligrams of caffeine per eight ounces, while a cup of coffee has about 90 milligrams of caffeine per 8 ounces; however, the caffeine in matcha is released more slowly and steadily due to L-theanine.
“This means that the energy boost from matcha is more sustained and less likely to cause jitters or crashes compared to coffee,” says Appasani. “In addition, matcha also provides other health benefits such as antioxidants, fiber and vitamins, while coffee is often consumed as a standalone drink without additional health benefits.”
One to two cups of matcha per day is considered a safe amount, but if you’re sensitive to caffeine it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before adding matcha to your diet.
What else can matcha be used for?
In addition to drinking it as a tea or latte, matcha powder can be used to add flavor and color to foods such as baked goods, ice cream and more. It can also be added to smoothies, juices and energy drinks for a natural energy boost.
Because of its high antioxidant content, matcha powder can be added to face masks, scrubs and other beauty products to help protect skin from damage.
“The benefits of matcha still apply when used in other wars, as long as the matcha powder is of high quality and used in moderation,” explains Appasani. “The benefits of matcha can vary depending on the quality and purity of the powder, as well as the amount used in a given recipe.”
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