Matcha and Green Tea: Drink and Snack Your Way to Healthy!
From lattes and bubble tea to ice cream and baked goods, matcha claims to make your drinking and snacking experience healthier.
Mochi Matcha and green tea star as THE healthy ingredient in every kind of drink and snack these days! Should you make this ancient tea product a part of your daily consumption? Firstly, understand that matcha and green tea are two different entities. Green tea is made from steeping the dried leaves of the camellia sinensis plant (a species of evergreen shrub) in hot water resulting in what we know as tea. Matcha is the powder produced from grinding the dried leaves of the plant. You can add hot water to it and make it a drink, or use its powdered form in a variety of delicious recipes.
Also, matcha goes through an extra step in the growing process. The plants are covered or shaded 3-4 weeks before harvest to increase the chlorophyll levels and amino acid content, thus yielding more potent amounts of the nutrients that green tea is known for.
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What is it that makes this particular leaf product so special and so healthy that it is now known as a superfood?
Antioxidants. Green tea contains a specific antioxidant called EGCG which helps improve blood pressure, decreases risk of heart disease, fights inflammation, improves cholesterol levels, regulates blood sugar, and promotes cell repair. It is also widely known for its cancer fighting properties.
Amino Acids. The amino acid L-theanine, found in green tea, increases “feel-good” brain chemicals, improving mood, memory, and concentration. This particular amino acid also helps with mental alertness, relaxation and combating stress.
Energy & Endurance boost. Yes, green tea contains caffeine, but the energy and endurance boost it provides is mostly from the wide array of nutrients it contains. Another great aspect to this boost: no increase in heart rate, blood pressure, or nervousness that is associated with other types of stimulants.
Vitamins & Nutrients = Immune System Support. Green tea contains Potassium, Vitamins A & C, Iron, Protein, and Calcium to aid the body in fighting off colds and infection.
Weight loss aid. Green tea helps with increasing your metabolism, thus increasing the body’s fat burning potential and total calorie burn during the day. All that being said, beware! Not everything that says matcha or green tea on the package is necessarily good for you, especially when it comes to the sweet stuff. Most snacks and drinks contain a minimal amount of matcha or green tea, making it too overpowered by all the other sweet ingredients to consider it healthy and beneficial.
Matcha could be better than green tea. Because you’re consuming the whole leaf you’re getting more of everything that the steeped version delivers.
However, more isn't always better. Consuming an abundance of antioxidants (there’s about 3x more in matcha than in green tea) may have a toxic effect on the body. It's a case of "too much of a good thing." Also, contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals in the soil transfer into the growing plant and it’s leaves. Organic versions are your best bet in avoiding excessive consumption of contaminants.
As with most anything in life, moderation is key. One cup or equivalent powder serving (1 teaspoon) of matcha or 1-2 cups of steeped green tea is probably a good way to reap the benefits of this superfood on a daily basis.
If you enjoy the flavor that green tea provides, then by all means enjoy your treat (we've got some tasty hard candy, as well as cookies)! You can also stock up on green tea and matcha powder and simply enjoy a hot cup of green tea with your own homemade matcha snack!
Resources: Authority Nutrition: Matcha – Even More Powerful Than Regular Green Tea Natural Living Ideas: 10 Amazing Benefits of Matcha Green Tea WebMD: Health Benefits of Green Tea