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If you get an opportunity to visit Japan, you won’t be reclused to Matcha, a trendy green tea; healthy and tasty. It is the latest beverage fad among the youth and adultalike and succorsthe palate of Hollywood and elite. The drink dates thousands of years back when dynasties were ruling China and Shogun clans were dominant in Japan. Historians traced its origin to the Tang Dynasty in China which spanned over 7thto the 10thcentury. Tang dynasty would steam tea leaves to create the same into bricks, making their harvested tea easy to transport. Later in 10thcentury, the Song Dynasty century made the tea popular. In 1191, Eisai, a Japanese Buddhist Monk, brought the tea seeds to Japan as found by Anna V. Zulaica, Mariza Snyder, Lauren Clum,the tea was governed by Zen monks over the period of the 15thcenturywhose philosophy was based on four major principles, “harmony, purity, tranquility, and respect.”
What is Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha green tea is crushed green tea leaves in which the tea leaf is dissolved in hot water as contrast to traditional tea drinks wherein tea leaves are soaked in hot water. While the latter gives us immense health benefits, green tea provides us multifold nutritional advantage. Its traditional method of preparation is still the most popular and the best way to enjoy its rich taste and gain its immense health benefits. However, people’s inquisitive nature led them to be creative in its usage. This tea is now being used in a variety of sweet and savory recipes, gettingfeatured in popular blogs and magazine, as the flavorful ingredient in pastries, smoothies, lattes, and even cocktails.
When enjoying green tea be sure not to add any dairy products as the casein from dairy binds to the healthy catechins in green tea, making it so your body doesn't absorb the antioxidants.
Add a citrus fruit, preferably lemon to increase the absorption of the green tea catechins.
How is Matcha Green Tea cultivated?
While the other type of green tea is grown all over the world,Matcha Green tea is grown chiefly in Japan. It is cultivated using the traditional methods of farming, sourcing and grinding. During the springtime harvesting, farmers cover these tea plants with the bamboo mats to reduce their exposure to sunlight. The decrease in sunlight increases the plant’s chlorophyll content, which results in the growth of dark green leaves and vibrant spring green to get the Matcha Green Tea powder. After harvesting, the leaves are steamed and then air dried. Farmers then segregate the leaves; the smaller and softer leaves are ground to get premium Matcha powder while the larger and firmer leaves are crushed to receive ingredient grade Matcha. The highest quality Matcha is crushed in a stone mill resulting in a fine powder of uniquely shaped granules.
Matcha Green Tea and its Health Benefits
Experts say Matcha green tea has more caffeine than steeped tea, but less than a cup of brewed coffee. In contrast to the caffeine found in coffee, Matcha generates an alert calm due to a natural substance called I- Theanine, which gives relaxation to the body without a feeling of drowsiness. Traditionally, Matcha is associated with Zen ceremonies, and this is one of the basic reasons for its popularity.
It gives us the same effect as meditation does to our body making our mind calm and soothing. It also helps in reducing cortisol, decreasing impulsive eating, reducing blood pressure and increasing self-esteem and compassion. It is a rich source of nutrients; besides having a considerable quantity of vitamins and minerals, it is rich in an antioxidant known as polyphenols. Polyphenol helps in protecting us from heart disease, cancer, regulates blood sugar, reduces blood pressure, and anti-aging.
Decaffeinated green tea does lose some of it's health benefits due to the process of removing caffeine. Although something is better than nothing. Try to drink green tea in the morning so the caffeine doesn't affect you at night.
Green Tea and Weight Loss
The weight loss effects of green tea come from its ability to increase metabolism and interfere with the fat building process. A study found that:
"Green tea, by containing both tea catechins and caffeine, may act through inhibition of catechol O-methyl-transferase, and inhibition of phosphodiesterase. Here the mechanisms may also operate synergistically. A green tea-caffeine mixture improves weight maintenance, through thermogenesis, fat oxidation, and sparing fat free mass."
Green tea offers other health benefits like:
- Increases in concentration and cognition
- Helps prevent cancer
- Reduces the risk of heart disease
Green tea extract supplements have the full leaf like matcha, but the quality in which the green tea has in capsules is debatable depending on the brand. Taking green tea in a pill also misses out on the dental hygiene benefits that drinking green tea offers.
Matcha Green Tea comes in varied qualities with a sweet taste
Its taste is strong; some find it spinach like while,for others,it is Umami. This is a reason it is sweetened to gets its palatability. High-quality Matcha is fresh and pure but is quite expensive. You can recognize its quality with its texture and color. A good quality Matcha has a bright green color and smooth texture while Matchawhich is average in quality is yellow and grainy. Its taste depends on its quality. A good Matcha tastes sweeter.
Should we worry about lead in Matcha tea?
Lead in a green tea has been a cause of concern. It is found in considerably higher levels, but studies reveal that even though it is found in the leaves in tea bags, it will not dissolve in water. The tests reveal that it will not cause any harm. A published report cited that Matcha contains 137 times more antioxidants called epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is enough to suggest that it is a healthier drink even though it contains lead.
No doubt this Japan’s yield Matcha, which is popularly known as teapigs, is considered as “superhero among teas”. People all over Japan, and in fact, all over the world consume it in both food and as a drink. Traditionally being consumed by Buddhist monks to keep them focused during meditation, it is also being used as a flavor in almost everything, icecreams, chocolates, Oreos, etc. After being served at New York Fashion Week in 2015 and looking at its increasing popularity, the time is not far when Matcha will become the pertinent element of the diet in all the households.
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