Matcha, matcha, matcha … Jan Brady would definitely understand the play on words.
Just like the vintage TV character seemed to hear about her older sister nonstop, you might be hearing and reading a lot about matcha green tea lately. How great it is for you. How much better it is than coffee. Yada yada.
Social media is always touting new “super” foods and drinks as the latest and greatest. Some have merit. Others are just fads.
So where does matcha green tea fall? Let’s look.
What is it?
The benefits of tea, especially green tea, are not up for dispute. It’s truly a health-boosting drink. But what’s the difference between green tea and matcha green tea? Basically, how they’re consumed.
Both are grown under a natural bamboo shade, which forces it to struggle and produce chlorophyll. The leaves are then harvested, and with normal green tea, then boiled and thrown out. Matcha, however, is a process where they take the leaves, steam them, and stone-grind to make a fine powder. Because the entire leaf is consumed, many feel it has more beneficial properties.
So how did it take off? Like many things, blame celebrities. Namely, most credit actress Gwyneth Paltrow as the influencer who started the train rolling back in 2015.
Are there real health benefits?
Matcha is still a form of green tea. So, yes, there are plenty of health benefits, from potentially improving heart health to brain function to diabetes control to weight loss. Yet, there are some key differences between matcha and regular green tea.
- Caffeine: Matcha has more caffeine than regular green tea but still less than a typical cup of coffee (70 mg vs. 100-170 mg). Many claim the caffeine in matcha also has a different effect, described as an “alert calm” where you have improved focus versus the jittery rush.
- Antioxidants: Matcha is rich in antioxidants called polyphenols, which have anti-inflammatory effects and may work to protect your body against serious health issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease. One powerful polyphenol is EGCG (also known as catechin), which has been associated with boosting your metabolism. According to a study published in the Journal of Chromatography, matcha contains up to 137 times the amount of ECCG compared to traditional green tea.
At the same time, with many internet trends, not all claims are accurate or fully true, at least.
Matcha has been touted as having the ability to detox your body, which, sorry, is not true. It’s also been said to be a great weight-loss option. Now, this one is a bit trickier.
Yes, research suggests matcha has the potential to boost your metabolism due to the EGCG content I mentioned earlier. Yet, for it to truly be a viable weight-loss solution, you’d have to drink a whole heck of a lot of it, far more than the average person would consume.
Which also brings up sourcing. Many chains water down their matcha to improve the taste, which obviously hinders the health benefits. So even if you drank gallons of it (which we don’t recommend), if you get your matcha from the wrong source, you’ll be getting more benefits from the water than the matcha.Still, matcha clearly is not going anywhere, and nor should it. It’s definitely a healthy alternative to energy drinks and coffee, especially if you like being a “trendy” person.