Matcha is a special type of green tea which originated in China in the 12th century but is mainly grown in Japan, where it forms the basis of the traditional tea serving ceremony and has been grown and drunk by Buddhist monks for a very long time. Although the same plant is used for matcha as for brewed green tea, the way matcha is grown and prepared—with the plants shaded from direct sunlight for the last month before harvesting, and with the whole leaf being used to prepare matcha powder—means that matcha has even higher health benefits than brewed green tea. Here are some of them.
1. It is high in antioxidants
The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, is rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant. The way matcha is grown and prepared gives it higher levels of catechins than other types of tea. A study dating back to 1986 found that the catechins found in green tea—which includes matcha—are effective in lowering blood cholesterol levels. This adds to the proven ability of antioxidants more generally to help prevent some chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer and cataracts.
2. It helps lower blood sugar
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition in 2009 found that consuming green tea was effective in reducing blood glucose levels in patients who had otherwise been fasting. Therefore, drinking matcha could help those with hyperglycemia, including diabetic and pre-diabetic patients, regulate their blood sugar levels.
3. It boosts your mental performance
Matcha, like all tea, contains caffeine. However, a study performed in Japan among volunteer participants aged 50 to 69 years old showed that consuming matcha had higher benefits than consuming caffeine by itself in terms of boosting concentration and mental performance in the long term.
This is why online matcha store aprikamatcha.com sells matcha as a superior alternative to coffee, which will provide higher benefits in terms of focus and mental performance without the short-term ‘crash’ associated with drinking coffee.
4. It increases insulin sensitivity
A further study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 found many further health benefits to consuming green tea, including improved sensitivity to insulin. Some scientists have therefore speculated that regularly consuming green tea, and particularly matcha, could help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.
5. It can help lower your anxiety levels
Studies examining the effects of L-theanine, a compound present in all teas but particularly high in matcha, have found that it can have a calming effect on people with normally high levels of anxiety. L-theanine relaxed the mind without causing drowsiness, which is why some regular consumers of matcha have said that it induces in them a state of “calm alertness”. This may be part of the reason why Japanese Buddhist monks have consumed matcha for centuries, in a slow and ritualistic manner which helps them appreciate the moment and maintain a state of mind which has been described as ‘mindfulness’.