Matcha: Understanding the health benefits and uses

Matcha is a form of powdered green tea that has historically played a role in the tea ceremony in Japan. Recently, it has begun to appear in different drinks and desserts across the United States. It can have some health advantages as well.

Green tea is prepared by most individuals as an infusion. This implies that they drink the hot water that the tea leaves have been steeped in.

Manufacturers, on the other hand, grind the matcha tea into a powder and mix it with hot water. This implies that the powdered leaves are eaten by a person drinking matcha tea.

Some studies indicate that green tea, of which matcha is one type, offers health-beneficial antioxidants.

Learn more about these possible health benefits in this article, as well as how to use matcha and its potential health hazards.

Definition

Matcha powder and liquid
Concentration and cognition can be improved with Matcha.

Manufacturers manufacture matcha from the tea plant of Camellia sinensis. This is the same plant from which all green tea types are derived by manufacturers.

Productors cultivate Camellia sinensis plants in the shade to make matcha tea. The dried, shade-grown tea leaves are known as tencha. Growing them in this manner increases the amount of a pigment in the tea leaves called chlorophyll.

The beneficial compounds in the leaves are also increased by this process. An amino acid called L-theanine, which can have positive effects on human health, is one such compound.

By extracting the stems and veins from tencha and grinding the remaining leaves to make a powder, people may make matcha.

Traditionally, people in Japan have used matcha to perform tea ceremonies. Today, as a healthy beverage, people from all over the world drink it.

In the form of a powder, the leaves are available and the tea they make has a smooth, mellow flavor that does not taste bitter.

By whisking it in warm water with a tea whisk, a person may prepare matcha. The texture should be foamy and the color should be bright green.

Different grades of matcha exist. The highest standard is the ceremonial grade, which individuals use in tea ceremonies. For daily consumption, premium grade matcha is acceptable. The cheapest type is Matcha for cooking. As a flavouring, people can add matcha to desserts.

Advantages

Many studies have shown that green tea can offer several health advantages.

Since matcha is a distilled form of green tea, people may be able to reap from matcha the same benefits of green tea, and may be even better.

The scientific evidence supporting the health advantages of the green tree is strong. It is important to note, however, that many of the studies that have explicitly studied matcha are small, emphasizing the need for larger cohort studies.

Some of the possible health benefits of matcha are discussed in the sections below.

Concentration and cognition enhancing

L-theanine is found in tea as an amino acid. Consuming L-theanine-rich foods and beverages will promote a state of relaxation and well-being. L-theanine can cause a state of relaxed alertness if a person combines it with caffeine, another chemical in matcha tea.

A 2017 study of 20 adult males found that cognition and selective attention were enhanced by consuming 200 milligrams (mg) of L-theanine. This effect was stronger in combination with 160 mg of caffeine.

A 2017 study of 49 human studies found that plant compounds can enhance mood and efficiency in matcha tea. For example, relaxation and calmness were promoted by L-theanine alone, while caffeine improved performance and energy.

L-theanine and caffeine improved alertness and attention when combined, particularly when the participants in the study were multitasking.

Some people suggest that there are far higher levels of L-theanine in matcha tea than other forms of tea. Research shows, however, that the quantity of L-theanine in matcha differs widely from product to product.

Preventing cancer

A class of antioxidants called catechins, particularly epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), which may have antitumor properties, are found in green tea.

Some test tubes and animal studies indicate that EGCg can help prevent the growth of cancer. However, to validate this possible impact, further human studies are required.

Some studies in humans indicate that a high intake of green tea can prevent certain cancers, such as bladder cancer, from developing.

EGCg can help prevent cancer by protecting cells from DNA damage and inhibiting the proliferation of tumor cells, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Reducing the risk of heart disease

Wide population studies have shown that a high consumption of green tea is associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Some also say that drinking green tea can reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high levels of cholesterol.

The effects of matcha tea on heart disease have not been investigated in studies of this kind. It may, however, have similar or stronger effects.

Preventing Diabetes Type 2

One randomized clinical trial showed that drinking four cups of green tea a day resulted in many risk factors for diabetes being substantially reduced. Body weight, body mass index (BMI), and systolic blood pressure were among these variables.

When the heart is between beats, systolic blood pressure is the force that blood flow exerts on blood vessels.

Relieving autoimmune uveitis

A 2019 study in mice indicated that in individuals with autoimmune uveitis, the catechins in green tea may help alleviate symptoms of vision impairment.

This is a rare disorder in which tissues within the eye are attacked inappropriately by the immune system, causing inflammation.

Although this study will have to be repeated in humans by researchers to assess the full impact of matcha tea on autoimmune uveitis, this study demonstrates that matcha tea compounds may have a beneficial effect on this autoimmune condition.

Nutrition

Not many direct studies have been conducted on matcha.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture database does not disclose any nutritional content outside of branded products for this type of tea.

Although green tea does not contain a large amount of vitamins or minerals, its health benefits derive from its high concentration of polyphenols, which are known as plant compounds.

Actually, about 30 percent of the dry weight of green tea consists of these compounds.

Uses

Traditionally, with one third of a cup of water that is hot but not quite boiling, people mix a teaspoon of matcha powder.

However, a growing interest in matcha has led to new ways to use it.

One recommendation is to make hot or iced tea by mixing a teaspoon of matcha powder with one-third of a cup of hot water and drinking it as it is or pouring it over ice.

  • Here are some other ideas:
  • Add foamed milk to make a matcha latte.
  • Add matcha powder to a smoothie.
  • Mix matcha powder into oatmeal.
  • Make homemade granola bars using matcha.
  • Add matcha to simple salad dressings, with a little oil, vinegar, and sweetener.

Registered dietitians developed the following healthful and delicious recipes using matcha:

  • matcha green tea latte popsicles
  • orange matcha iced tea
  • matcha green granola bars

People can buy matcha at health food stores, specialty tea stores, and online. People can always guarantee that the only ingredient is matcha powder. There will be added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other additives to certain packets or premixes that can decrease the health benefits.

As a specialty drink in cafes and coffee shops, Matcha is also becoming more commonly available. Such establishments can add high amounts of sugar, so always check the label or ask a staff member if added sugar is present in the beverage. Try to order unsweetened or lightly sweetened matcha when possible.

Risks

On the risks of matcha tea, there have not been many reports. The advantages and risks are not yet entirely clear for this reason.

In a 2015 study, high green tea consumption was related to reproductive problems in fruit flies. It is, however, unclear whether this would have the same effect on humans or not.

Very large doses of green tea were also used in this study and do not reflect the amount that a person would normally drink. Importantly, some research indicates that, because of its catechin content, excessive consumption of green tea could decrease iron absorption.

A great amount of caffeine is also provided by consuming too much green tea. This can lead to side effects such as a rapid heartbeat and issues with sleeping.

Sources

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  • Dietz, C., & Dekker, M. (2017). Effect of green tea phytochemicals on mood and cognition [Abstract]. 
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  • Is matcha good for you, and how can you use it (LINK)
  • Fan, F. S. (2016). Iron deficiency anemia due to excessive green tea drinking.
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  • FAQ: Should I be worried about radiation in my matcha? (2015).
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  • Fujiki, H., et al. (2018). Cancer prevention with green tea and its principal constituent, EGCG: From early investigations to current focus on human cancer stem cells.
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  • Hasegawa, T., et al. (2016). Characteristic aroma features of tencha and sencha green tea leaves manufactured by different processes [Abstract].
    (LINK)
  • Horai, R., & Caspi, R. R. (2019). Microbiome and autoimmune uveitis [Abstract].
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  • How matcha is processed. (n.d.).
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  • Kahathuduwa, C., et al. (2019). L-theanine and caffeine improve sustained attention, impulsivity and cognition in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders by decreasing mind wandering (OR29-04-19) [Abstract].
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  • Kahathuduwa, C. N., et al. (2017). Acute effects of theanine, caffeine, and theanine-caffeine combination on attention [Abstract].
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  • Kuriyama, S., et al. (2006). Green tea consumption and mortality due to cardiovascular disease, cancer and all causes in Japan: The Ohsaki study [Abstract]. 
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  • Li, J., et al. (2019). Green tea catechins alleviate autoimmune symptoms and visual impairment in a murine model for human chronic intraocular inflammation by inhibiting Th17-associated pro-inflammatory gene expression [Abstract].
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  • Lopez, T. E., et al. (2016). The impact of green tea polyphenols on development and reproduction in Drosophila melanogaster [Abstract].
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  • Miyata, Y., et al. (2018). Anticancer effects of green tea and the underlying molecular mechanism in bladder cancer.
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  • Miyata, Y., et al. (2019). Anti-cancer effects of green tea polyphenols against prostate cancer.
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  • Mousavi, A., et al. (2013). The effects of green tea consumption on metabolic and anthropometric indices in patients with type 2 diabetes.
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  • Sano, T., et al. (2018). Effect of shading intensity on morphological and color traits and on chemical components of new tea (Camellia sinensis L.) shoots under direct covering cultivation [Abstract].
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  • Tea and cancer prevention. (2010).
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  • Temple, J. L., et al. (2017). The safety of ingested caffeine: A comprehensive review.
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  • Tian, C., et al. (2016). Green tea consumption is associated with reduced incident CHD and improved CHD-related biomarkers in the Dongfeng-Tongji cohort.
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  • Unno, K., et al. (2018). Stress-reducing function of matcha green tea in animal experiments and clinical trials.
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