Matcha’s popularity has exploded lately. Used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha has recently shown up in coffee shops, Instagram stories, and fitness blogs.
But what is matcha, and how can it help you live a healthier life?
Here’s what you need to know about this mysteriously bright green beverage and all the health benefits of matcha green tea.
Health Benefits of Matcha vs. Green Tea
Matcha is a form of green tea, but, as you likely have figured out, it’s very different from traditional green tea.
The first difference you’ll notice between matcha and traditional green tea is that matcha is a much brighter shade of green. That’s because matcha is shade-grown, which allows for an increase in chlorophyll production and amino acid content and gives the plant it’s bright green coloring.
The other noticeable difference between matcha and green tea is that matcha always comes in powder form. After harvesting the leaves, farmers steam the tea leaves, then dry them and put them into heated ovens. After that, the veins and stems are removed, and the leaves are ground into a fine powder. This process gives matcha nutrients from the entire tea leaf, resulting in a higher amount of antioxidants and caffeine than other types of tea.
Health Benefits of Matcha and Its Side Effects
A lot of people enjoy drinking matcha because of its taste. Overall, it’s sweet and creamy, sort of like a latte version of tea.
In addition to being an enjoyable beverage to enjoy in the morning or when you need an afternoon pick-me-up, matcha also has a lot of health benefits. Here are five health benefits you can enjoy by adding matcha to your diet.
1. Increased Antioxidants for Cell Health
The increase in antioxidants in a single cup of matcha tea can have lasting benefits for your health. Antioxidants are important for stabilizing free radicals that can damage your cells and even cause chronic illnesses.
Matcha has significantly more antioxidants than a regular cup of tea. One that stands out, in particular, is EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is a catechin found in tea, nuts, and certain fruits. This powerful antioxidant has been shown to reduce free radicals and slow down cancer growth.
By incorporating matcha into your daily routine, you can increase your intake of antioxidants, which can reduce the amount of cell damage you incur and even possibly prevent some chronic illnesses and help boost your immune system.
2. Promotes Heart Health
Heart disease is the number one cause of death for women in the United States, which means we should do whatever we can to improve our heart health. Matcha may provide heart health benefits by reducing LDL (i.e., bad cholesterol) levels in the body and naturally lowering blood pressure.
These studies looked at traditional green tea, not matcha specifically. However, because matcha is a form of green tea and has a higher amount of antioxidants than a conventional cup of green tea, the results would be the same for matcha as for green tea.
3. Makes Your Skin Glow
Matcha truly has superpowers when it comes to making you healthier inside and out. The same antioxidants in matcha that fight off free radicals and lower cholesterol also work to improve your skin health. Drinking matcha can help you fight acne by reducing inflammation. The antioxidants have an anti-aging effect on skin and can help you look more youthful.
You can get matcha benefits for your skin from drinking matcha. You can also make your own matcha face mask if you want a more direct way to apply the powerhouse of antioxidants to your skin.
Pamper yourself with this simple matcha mask recipe.
- 1 teaspoon matcha
- 1 Tablespoon Greek yogurt, plain face moisturizer, argan oil, or coconut oil
- Combine the two ingredients to form a paste
- Apply matcha paste to your face and neck
- Leave the paste on for 10 minutes
- Wash off and enjoy your glowing skin!
This mask is incredibly simple to prepare. If your skin is dry, then you may want to try an oil-based mask. If you have oily skin, then using Greek yogurt will be a better option, and if you have acne, try making the mask with honey.
4. Helps You Lose Weight Naturally
If you’re eating right and exercising regularly and still can’t get rid of those excess pounds, try adding matcha to your diet. Most weight loss supplements use some form of green tea extract because of its natural properties that can impact weight loss.
Matcha health benefits have shown to help people boost their metabolism while providing a natural source of energy so you can power through your workouts. Studies show that drinking green tea before working out can help you oxidize body fat as you exercise.
5. Gives You Natural Energy and Endurance
If you tend to get jittery after drinking coffee, then switching to matcha might make sense. Even though it has less caffeine as a cup of coffee, you will likely find that you’re more alert after drinking a cup of matcha than after drinking a cup of coffee.
For one thing, matcha doesn’t cause that sharp crash that coffee does. Instead, matcha gives you long-lasting energy that will get you through the day. One study even found that drinking green tea can lead to an increase in energy expenditure for over 24 hours.
Matcha Product Standards for the Best Health Benefits
It is important to vet your matcha ingredients and make sure that they are up to the best standards. When shopping around, remember to look for matcha that is 100% USDA certified organic and of authentic Japanese Origin.
If you’re looking for a good brand, my personal favorite is Jade Leaf Organic Matcha Green Tea Powder, which goes great with my matcha lattes.
Matcha Side Effects
For the most part, matcha is safe to drink with many health benefits, as long as you don’t go overboard. There has been some concern about lead content in matcha, which can happen if the tea is grown in an area prone to traffic pollution. Generally, only low-quality, cheap matcha tea is grown in areas like this.
Most premium matcha brands sold and distributed in the U.S. have been tested and found to be lead-free or to have an acceptable level of lead. Make sure you are buying a reputable brand of matcha—it’s not worth saving a few dollars to go with an unknown brand that could contain dangerous amounts of lead.
Some of the most common side effects from matcha include the following:
- Stomach upset
- Loss of appetite
- Trouble sleeping
- Heart palpitation
The side effects of matcha are primarily due to caffeine. If you are used to coffee, then you may not notice any side effects. If you are switching from traditional green tea to matcha, you may notice these side effects from the higher amounts of caffeine that you are taking. Start with just one cup of matcha a day to see how your body reacts.
How to Prepare Matcha for Optimal Health Benefits
It can seem intimidating to prepare matcha at first, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. All you need are two ingredients: matcha and water.
Start by heating, as you would for a regular cup of tea. As your water is heating up, use a sifter to sift 1 – 2 tsp of matcha powder (you can skip this step if you don’t have a sifter, but you may end up with small clumps). Now, whisk the matcha powder into the water.
A good rule of thumb is to use 1 tsp of matcha powder for every 6 ounces of water. You can play around with these measurements to determine what tastes the best to you. If you’d like, you can add milk to make your matcha extra creamy.
Bottom Line: Should You Drink Matcha?
Whether or not to drink matcha comes down to personal taste and preference. If you’re looking for a new way to get some energy, then it won’t hurt to try a cup of matcha to see if you like it. For many, matcha is an acquired taste, so if you like the way it makes you feel but don’t love the taste, give it a few more tries and play around with different ways of preparing matcha. You can even add a scoop to a smoothie to get the matcha health benefits with less of the flavor.