Just in case you’re one of the few people left who still hasn’t heard about the powers of green tea, get ready to jump on the bandwagon of this new-millennium revival and become a believer.
From color therapy to the chakra system, in many circles green is considered to be a healing color. So it’s fitting that green tea would be discovered to have many health benefits. But one green tea in particular promises to enjoy a steady rise in popularity. Its name is “Matcha” and it’s been around for almost 1000 years.
This powerful finely ground, powdered green tea, an invention of the Chinese, has quite a variety of heath benefits associated with it. “Matcha” literally means “powdered tea”, and is derived from Gyokuro green tea, which has been covered and grown under ninety percent shade during the last few weeks prior to harvest. Then, the tealeaves go through a process that removes the stems and de-veins the leaves, producing a product known as “Tencha”.
The “Tencha” is further refined, by grinding it into powder, traditionally on a stone mill, at a particular speed (grinding the tea too fast can cause a burnt taste). The resulting very fine powder is known as “Matcha”.
There are a few types of Matcha (sometimes spelled “Maccha” or “Macha”). The differences have to do with a number of factors, including time of harvest, and the age of the tea plants. One very exclusive variety is harvested from tea plants that exceed 30 years in age, and can cost over $100.00 an ounce. Luckily, the less expensive Matchas still provide us with what seems to be an ever-growing list of benefits.
The polyphenols in green tea help protect against cancer, while reducing the risk of heart disease, due to lowered cholesterol and improved lipid metabolism. Green tea also has anti-bacterial properties, and just two cups contains almost twice the anti-oxidants of red wine, more than seven times that of orange juice, and twenty times that of apple juice. Green tea also helps control high blood pressure. It has been linked with weight loss, and Oprah Winfrey has backed up that claim, using green tea as a part of her well-publicized fitness plan. It even reduces fatigue and elevates the mood… evidenced by several Mäni’s Bakery employees!
Like all green tea, Matcha contains a small amount of caffeine, as well as L-theanine, which increases the alpha wave activities in the brain, that creates a feeling of relaxation. Matcha has a slightly foamy texture and a sweet, mildly grassy taste that goes great with everything, especially biscotti or shortbread.
There are many ways to drink Matcha, hot or cold; and with summer arriving, drinking an iced Matcha Latte at Mäni’s on Fairfax is a refreshing way to add nutrients to your body while quenching your thirst. You’re sure to say “Grassy-Ahhs”.
Matcha Nutrition Facts
Some of the chemical components of 100g/3.5 oz of Matcha are:
Vitamin A: 16,000IU
Vitamin B2: 1.35mg
Vitamin C: 60mg
Vitamin E: 35.9mg
Proteins & Amino Acids: 30.7%
photo by Noah York
Tea plants are native to East and South Asia and probably originated around the point of confluence of the lands of northeast India, north Burma, southwest China, and Tibet. Although tales exist in regards to the beginnings of tea being used as a beverage, no one is sure of its exact origins.
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