Story by Hannah Lenore Gray
Green tea is often considered to be the epitome of health and well-being. Long advertised as the perfect source for antioxidants, nutrients and fat burn, the caffeinated beverage is frequently named a positive alternative to coffee. But with the emerging popularity of a different, and perhaps superior, tea variety, brewed green tea leaves, prepare to relinquish your crown.
Enter matcha. A fine, stone-ground powder consisting of green tea leaves is gearing up to be the new favorite of the health-conscious community. Its supremacy over brewed tea lies in its production. While brewed leaves are only capable of providing drinkers with a portion of their leaves’ health benefits, matcha drinkers get to enjoy them all.
Grown strictly in the shade, the tea bushes are kept covered to avoid sunlight, which slows down the growth process. In turn, an increase in the leaves’ chlorophyll occurs, yielding darker leaves packed with many amino acids. Once harvested, the leaves are laid out to dry indoors. They are then ground down to a fine powder, ready to be whisked into hot water and enjoyed.
Because matcha tea allows for drinkers to consume the entire tea leaf, it provides more nutrients than brewed tea. The tea leaf is the source of all the vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants, but when tea bags or tea leaves are brewed in water only to be removed before consumption, drinkers miss out on the bulk of benefits. Matcha tea retains amino acids such as L-Theanine, an anti-oxidant that releases dopamine and serotonin—mood, memory and concentration boosters. It also is a great source of EGCG, a type of antioxidant considered to contain disease-preventing properties.
Today, matcha is used in countless foods and drinks (including in Starbuck’s Green Tea Latte). It’s popularity in health-food circles in undeniable and growing. A simple Pinterest search turns up thousands of ways to easily incorporate matcha and all of its benefits into recipes suitable for every taste. One tempting concoction even combines trendy macaroons and matcha!