What if I start by telling you that matcha tea fights cancer and age related diseases like dementia, boosts skin health, contains powerful antioxidants and amino acids, burns fat, detoxifies the body, lifts mood and aids mental concentration?
And what if I go on to say that these claims are backed up by learned academic research which is only just scraping the surface of this wonder drink.
This really is a miracle anti aging food that we should all be taking – talk to your friends though and how many of them have even heard of matcha tea?
By now most of us know that green tea in general is very good for us and is one of the best anti aging teas you can drink.
What is matcha tea?
So – you may be wondering – what makes matcha even better – isn’t it just another type of green tea? It all comes down to how it’s grown, processed and – most importantly – how you drink it.
Japanese matcha green tea comes from the same tea plant as all teas but only the youngest most tender shade grown leaves are picked from the top third of the bush. Then comes the clever bit that really makes matcha different from any other tea you can drink.
The whole tea leaf is stone ground by hand into a very fine powder which can be mixed with water and drunk rather than being brewed and the leaves (or tea bag) discarded. What that means is that you get all the benefits of matcha tea in every cup you drink – nothing is thrown away.
Benefits of matcha tea
There is lots of hype around superfoods nowadays and in some ways rightly so – many foods have amazing antioxidant and anti aging properties which we are only just beginning to understand. But matcha tea blows all other superfoods right out of the water.
To begin with matcha green tea is an unparalleled provider of antioxidants – naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent aging and chronic disease.
Experts at Tufts University have discovered that matcha possesses 20 times more antioxidants than blueberries or pomegranates – both foods that have been topping the superfood charts recently.
Researchers use a testing process known as ORAC – (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) to assess the antioxidant power of matcha and other foods. Matcha came out with an ORAC rating of an incredible 1300 units per gram compared to blueberries 91 units and pomegranates 105 per gram.
That doesn’t mean that blueberries and pomegranates aren’t good free radical fighters – it just means that matcha offers a completely different level of protection.
Matcha vs green tea
So – if you are already drinking green tea on a daily basis and wondering why you should switch – is matcha really any better than a high quality green tea?
I have already written elsewhere on the site about the high antioxidant levels in green tea. Like any green tea – matcha contains catechins a powerful type of antioxidant only found in teas – the most powerful being EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
In fact – over 60% of the catechins found in Matcha green tea are EGCG catechins. So – whilst ordinary green tea is high in antioxidants – matcha has more antioxidants than just about any other food on the planet. The bottom line based on research done by the University of Colorado in 2003 – gram by gram – matcha has 137 times the antioxidant value of ordinary green teas.
No need to give up the green tea if you don’t want to – but adding just one daily serving of matcha tea is a simple and powerful way to turbo charge your level of antioxidant protection and keep yourself looking good into the bargain.
Matcha and anti aging
The Chinese have long believed that matcha tea helps fight the effects of aging calling it “the elixir of immortality”.
Not surprisingly, it is the catechins in matcha tea that put it into the anti aging superfood class. Dr. Andrew Weil is a world renowned expert on natural medicine and healthy aging and a Harvard qualified doctor of medicine.
Dr Weil drinks matcha tea every day and comments on his website: “matcha is rich in catechin polyphenols – compounds with high antioxidant activity. These compounds offer protection against many kinds of cancer and slow the aging process.”
It is this potent anti-inflammatory effect that makes matcha such an incredible food for the skin – protecting from UV damage and improving skin elasticity.
In fact drinking a cup of matcha a day is one of the best things you can do to combat skin aging and promote skin health.
Some websites even recommend using a lower grade matcha powder as a topical treatment for skin blemishes – just mix a small amount to a thick paste and apply.
Matcha caffeine content good for you
The natural properties in matcha tea have the remarkable effect of boosting energy levels – originally thought to be due simply to the caffeine found in all green teas.
More recently research has shown that the type of energy surge created by matcha is very different to a caffeine buzz – more gentle and paced. In fact – drinking matcha tea has been shown to result in a 24% improvement in physical endurance – one of the reasons matcha was traditionally drunk by Samurai warriors to enhance stamina.
You may be wondering why the caffeine in matcha tea is different to the caffeine in coffee or other teas – how can it have good rather than negative effects on the body?
It’s true – since you drink the whole leaf you do get a relatively high amount of caffeine in each cup of match – around 70 mgs – the same sort of level you get in a cup of ordinary coffee. But there the similarity ends.
The caffeine in matcha is different exactly because you are drinking the whole tea leaf – nutrients, antioxidants and all. The caffeine in matcha tea sticks to the catechin molecules and as the body slowly breaks them down – caffeine is released steadily over a long period.
Compare this to drinking a strong espresso which hits your bloodstream quickly and provokes an adrenaline rush – quickly followed by an energy low.
The slow release of caffeine is also enhanced by another important health benefit of matcha – L-theanine. L-theanine is a rare amino acid found in all teas which promotes a state of relaxation and a feeling of calm. Matcha tea has five times more L-theanine than any other tea and this keeps the stimulatory effect of the caffeine in balance.
The result is a a state of mental clarity, focus and alertness which should last through most of the working day (6-8 hours). No wonder Matcha tea has been used for over a thousand years by monks in Japan as an aid to meditation – it seems we are only just catching on.
For these reasons Matcha is a great mood enhancing drink – very well tailored to anyone suffering from low mood or even depression and a great pick me up for everyone. It combats feelings of lethargy and fatigue without the nervous twitchy energy that you get from coffee or energy drinks.
Matcha tea and weight loss
Matcha green tea is not only fat free it also supports weight loss by boosting the bodies metabolism and burning fat.
Studies have suggested that it may help burn calories at four times the normal rate – a great benefit as you get older and your metabolic rate naturally declines.
Other studies have shown that green teas of all kinds specifically help to get rid of the stubborn fat around your middle that nothing else seems to shift. Dieters who drink green tea lose more fat from the waistline than those not drinking green tea and matcha is the most powerful green tea you can drink.
Even better – matcha green tea raises your metabolic rate without any negative side effects such as higher blood pressure or heart rate which can put stress on the body. This makes Matcha tea the perfect natural diet drink and a much safer alternative to over the counter chemical based options.
Natural detox with matcha
Matcha powder is ground by hand from shade grown young tea leaves and as a result it is packed full of Chlorophyll – hence the beautiful vibrant green colour.
Chlorophyll is a powerful detoxifier helping the body cleanse itself of unwanted chemicals and metals and leading to improved health and a greater feeling of well being.
Very recent studies have have shown that matcha also has a strong antibacterial action helping to fight off bacteria and viruses. This not only makes matcha tea the perfect drink to fight off colds, flu and stomach bugs but it helps protect you from tooth decay and bad breath – great news for your health and your looks as you get older!
How much matcha tea should you drink?
What seems clear from the large number of research studies completed so far is that drinking only a small amount of matcha tea a day – 1/4 to 1/2 a teaspoon whisked with hot but not boiling water – delivers all the health and anti aging benefits described.
Drink more if you want to – average Japanese consumption is much higher than this and there are no bad side effects.
I’ve been taking matcha every morning for over two years now and I certainly notice when I go a day without taking it.
In a coming article I’ll be looking at how to pick the best matcha powder and some ideas for adding it to your daily diet if – like me – you prefer not to drink it as tea.
Whatever way you find to add matcha to your day – you won’t find any other single food as good at boosting your anti aging health and helping you look great for your age.