Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea that is made, like the other varieties of green tea, from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. This tea is considered very valuable and is generally used in tea ceremonies. However, nowadays, the use of matcha is expanding becoming not only a ceremonial drink but also a real super drink. And science has also started to take an interest in matcha, by dedicating numerous studies to this green tea. Let's try to understand the properties of matcha, why it is considered so special and how to prepare it!
Matcha green tea, properties
Matcha green tea looks like a very fine powder, it is in fact obtained by grinding the leaves of green tea. This powder is dissolved in water and, unlike the normal leaf green tea prepared by infusion, it is not filtered. The result is therefore that there are many more beneficial substances in the drink than a regular green tea. A study estimates that epigallocatechin gallate, a type of antioxidant substance found in green tea, in matcha is 137 times higher than a Chinese green tea prepared by infusion and three times higher than the highest value available in literature referring to a normal green leaf tea (Weiss et al, J Chromotogr A, 2003). Matcha also provides mineral salts such as magnesium, calcium, selenium, potassium, iron and copper, and vitamins, such as group B, vitamins C and E (Chacko et al, Chin Med, 2010). And it does not end there, the caffeine contained in tea proves able to improve cognitive performance, attention and memory (Dietz et al, Curr Pharm Des, 2017). But one should not think that, due to the caffeine content, the effect of matcha is exciting with a consequent loss of energy. On the contrary, there is also another compound in matcha, called L-theanine that, by counteracting the effects of caffeine, induces relaxation by lowering stress levels (Nobre et al, Asia Pac J Clin Nutr, 2008). In addition to this, matcha is anti-inflammatory and, according to scientific studies, it would be able to inhibit the proliferation of cancer cells, especially of the breast (Bonuccelli et al, Aging, 2018). It is clear that matcha cannot be considered a substitute for medical treatment in case of this disease but it is certainly a very interesting drink both to strengthen the body and in the field of prevention. Finally, matcha green tea also helps to lower blood sugar, cholesterol and triglycerides (Xu et al, Food Funct, 2016).
Matcha, matcha latte, biscuits and desserts
And what about products prepared with matcha such as biscuits or sweets that are so fashionable nowadays? In general, the heat, to which they are subjected for the preparation, destroys in part if not, on the basis of some scientific study, even totally, the antioxidants. In general, there are no particular effects on blood sugar or on the lipid profile after taking biscuits and sweets prepared with matcha powder (Phongnarisorn et al, Foods, 2018). And what about matcha latte? Matcha latte is a well-known drink made with a cup of milk, usually hot, and matcha powder. Is this an alternative to a healthy matcha tea prepared just with water? Difficult to establish, at least at the moment. In fact, scientific studies disagree. For some scientists, taking matcha and milk together would even help antioxidants to overcome the stomach barrier (Lamothe et al, Food Funct, 2014), while others say milk proteins would reduce the availability of green tea catechins (Egert et al, Eur J Nutr, 2013). Therefore, if you want to take advantage of the health benefits of matcha, a tea is ideal. In the next paragraph we will see how to make a good matcha green tea.
Matcha green tea, preparation
First of all, you should check the biological origin of the tea and the absence of heavy metals and radionuclides, in this case it is particularly important because the tea is completely ingested. You can ask the retailer for the analyzes performed on the tea to make sure that it does not contain harmful substances. Once you have verified that you have a quality product, you can prepare matcha tea. Dissolve a teaspoon of tea powder in a cup of water, which can be hot, but never above 60°, or colder, in the latter case, however, the tea should be of excellent quality otherwise it will not melt. Mix with a teaspoon or with the appropriate whisk, drink. Given the presence of caffeine, it is not recommended to drink matcha tea in the evening hours.