Matcha is in the spotlight here at A New Leaf since Dr. Oz did a segment on the wonderful health benefits of this tea powerhouse. However, matcha has been around for quite some time. In our first blog post, we discussed how all tea comes from the same plant: Camellia sinensis and a variety known as Camellia assamica.
Matcha green tea originated in Japan, and is a powerful green tea, because the entire leaf is ingested in powder form. In Japanese “cha” means tea, and “ma” means powder, thus the word matcha literally translates to “powdered green tea.” It is believed that the very first Camellia sinensis seeds were brought to Japan from China by the Zen master Eisai in 1191 A.D., who planted them on the temple grounds in Kyoto. Eisai was perhaps the first person to grind and consume green tea leaves in powdered form. Thus Zen and matcha became forever associated. The Japanese tea ceremony celebrates the Zen of simple things — the extraordinary in the ordinary — and has made great contributions to our current mindfulness awareness. The drinking of matcha tea stimulates presence of mind, mental alertness, and helps promote a calm, meditative state.
Unlike green teas, with matcha you are consuming the entire tea leaf. Therefore, the antioxidant level is up to 10 times higher than in ordinary green tea. The antioxidant concentration in matcha is up to 137 times greater than that of green tea, and much higher than such vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, as well as healthful berries including gojiberries and blueberries. ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) tests prove that one gram of organic matcha ceremonial green tea contains 1,384 ORAC units.
Green tea contains potent antioxidants called catechins, which scavenge for dangerous free radicals in the body. The most powerful catechin found in green tea is EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), which is believed to be a powerful anti-carcinogen. A 2003 University of Colorado study confirmed that drinking one cup of matcha has 137 times the amount of antioxidant EGCG compared to a conventional cup of green tea. University studies shows it slows the growth of deadly cancer cells, and can even help prevent them from forming in the first place. A study conducted at the University of Colorado in 2003 confirmed that drinking 1 cup of Matcha Green Tea has 137 times the amount of EGCg compared to a conventional cup of green tea.
Matcha causes a boost of energy after drinking without the crash after consuming sugar or coffee. High in L-Theanine, matcha reduces stress while improving mental clarity and focus. Being nearly calorie-free, matcha is a great alternative to sugary drinks to provide energy throughout the day. L-theanine is also a powerful “anti-anxiolytic” or calming agent that it is now being formulated in capsules and sold in health food stores as a natural valium. Studies have shown that L-theanine significantly increases the output of alpha waves by the brain. Alpha waves are responsible for the deep, peaceful, calm feeling that is imparted by meditation, yoga, deep relaxation etc. This is why matcha was so popular among Buddhist monks years ago during their rigorous meditation sessions.