You know that coffee you’re drinking right now? It’s totally overrated. That morning coffee might get you up and feeling energized, but this morning ritual is doing more than just that. It’s also stressing your adrenals (leading to inflammation and chronic fatigue), spiking your cortisol levels (wreaking havoc on your blood sugar levels, and disrupting your metabolism) and sapping the moisture from your skin – not such a bright start to your day is it?
So where can you get that energy hit from without the body-taxing effects of coffee? Matcha. Samurai warriors and Japanese Buddhist monks have been drinking it for centuries to ease their mind and increase energy and focus, and so it’s no surprise that it’s back in Vogue. You’ve been seeing weird green lattes popping up on Instagram, or perhaps you’re on the other end of the spectrum and have been scrutinizing the menu at your local café to see if matcha lattes are on offer. So what’s the big deal? Is it just a short-lived trend? We don’t think so. Many coffee lovers are ditching their java for good in favour of this green gold for many reasons beyond taste (or trend…). If you’re new to the world of Matcha, here’s everything you need to know about this energy-boosting and beauty enhancing elixir.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a special variety of green tea, stoneground into a fine powder. All the nutritional properties of the tea leaves are ingested, not letting any of the goodness go to waste (yup that’s right, you’re basically eating greens in your morning caffeine fix!). Matcha tea leaves are shade-grown before harvest, significantly increasing their chlorophyll and amino acid content well above that of standard green teas, as well as giving them a much smoother taste and deeper flavour.
Does matcha have caffeine?
Matcha has approximately 1/3 the caffeine of coffee, with very high levels of the amino acid, L-theanine – the calming chemical known to both energise and relax. This perfect balance works to enhance mental alertness and increase energy without the jitters common with coffee consumption. Japanese monks were known to sip matcha tea to help ease their mind for meditation while the subtle caffeine content would create focus – clarity, focus, alertness and greens all rolled into one. Convinced yet?!
What are the health benefits of matcha?
Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse. The best way of putting this into perspective is with its ORAC value. An ORAC value determines how readily available the antioxidants in a food or drink are, and how effective those antioxidants are in the body at neutralising free radicals. Matcha has one of the highest ORAC values of a natural food product – with a level of 1384, compared to goji berries at 253 and blueberries at 93. According to the free radical theory of ageing, antioxidants help slow oxidative processes and free radical damage, thereby helping prevent age-related degeneration and disease – making Matcha an anti-ageing powerhouse. In addition to this, the amino acid L-Theanine doesn’t just increase clarity and focus, a side effect of L-Theanine is the production of dopamine and serotonin, and therefore Matcha can also help enhance mood, improve memory and promote better concentration. Further to this, the catechins in Matcha have been shown to have antibiotic properties, thereby increasing immunity.
How to prepare matcha
Our Japanese serving bowls are first heated with hot water, dried (to prevent powder lumps), and then filled with a scoop of finely sieved matcha. We then fill to 1/3 full with water at 80 degrees Celcius (to prevent burning the matcha), before rapidly whisking with a traditional bamboo whisk until light and frothy. Time to put down that cup of coffee and jump on the Matcha bandwagon? you can purchase your own 100% certified organic matcha sourced from Tea Gardens in Uji, Kyoto and Kagoshima here.