Mucha Matcha

Author: Jocie Antonelli

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This green tea drink is becoming so popular, it’s giving coffee houses a run for their money. Not only does it contain moderate amounts of caffeine (which is why it is making converts out of some coffee drinkers), but it has tremendous health benefits. This combination is making matcha fans everywhere.

Matcha, which means powdered tea, is superior to regular green tea for the simple fact that you consume the whole tea leaf. With regular tea, you steep the leaves or tea bags, then discard them. When you drink matcha, you’re drinking the actual leaves which have been ground micro-fine. In other words, you are consuming the leaf itself, and therefore all the wonderful nutrients contained within its cell walls. So how much better is this for you than drinking just straight green tea? Studies indicate that matcha provides the antioxidant equivalent of 3 cups of green tea and as much as 137 times more antioxidants! In fact, it contains as many antioxidants as you might find in 15 times the amount of blueberries. Antioxidants are what help us counter the oxidative stress and free radical damage that is happening inside our bodies every single day. It’s this oxidative stress that causes us to develop disease and/or age. Hence the reason more consumption of antioxidants is definitely a desired thing. Matcha also contains protein, fiber, iron, and is an excellent source of vitamins A and C.  

Let’s get a little bit more specific on the health benefits. From a heart disease perspective, drinking green tea on a regular basis has been shown to lower heart disease risk by 31%. So drinking matcha tea provides even more protective compounds and assumedly lowers heart disease risk even further. For weight loss, matcha is rich in EGCG which has been shown to boost metabolic rate and boost fat-burning potential by as much as 17%. Finally, matcha is rich in a group of antioxidants known as catechins. Catechins are so powerful, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), that they may actually prevent cancer making matcha one of the top natural cancer treatment options around.  

As for mental health and performance, give matcha high marks as well. Green tea is known for its ability to sooth, calm, and relax while at the same time increasing alertness. Green tea contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine. This amino acid increases alpha waves in the brain which have been linked to mental relaxation and fighting stress. In addition, L-theanine can also increase the amount of feel-good chemicals in the brain leading to improved mood, memory and concentration. Matcha does provide a significant amount of caffeine somewhere between what regular green tea provides and what you’d get from a cup of coffee. So while matcha gives that energy boost,  it does so without the jitteriness, and leads to a caffeine “buzz” that can be more gentle and sustained.

Give matcha a try today. On campus you’ll find matcha at Starbucks or in the C-store. For those that like to cook, you can blend matcha into smoothies, baked goods, and fish and rice dishes. Have fun sampling and experimenting with matcha!