This morning, you were the epitome of energized. A 50-minute cardio sequence followed by getting ready for work, followed by running out on the town to grab all of your coworkers coffee. Where did all that buzz come from?
It probably has something to do with the fact that you replaced your morning cup of coffee with a cup of green tea, and you saw your energy levels steadily rise without a crash afterward. Green tea has a multitude of health benefits, mostly stemming from the abundance of antioxidants within the leaves. Those antioxidants are also called catechins, and they not only protect the cells from cancer-causing free radicals, but they also promote fat oxidation and thermogenesis (which is when the body burns excess fat for heat).
So, where does matcha come into play? Matcha comes from the plant, "camellia sinesis," the same plant from which black tea, green tea and white teas are derived. Along with green tea, it is has been hailed as a health elixir for thousands of years. Drinking matcha is an important part of Zen Buddhism, and is considered to encourage a feeling of unity within the body during their long hours of meditation. It promotes sustained energy but also an overwhelming centeredness... it reinvigorates your metabolism and promotes creativity. The caffeine within matcha releases into the body slowly rather than all at once, translating into gradual sustained energy levels; plus, because a whole bunch of caffeine isn't dumped into the stomach in one go, the body will benefit from a smoother digestion.
Matcha is a lovely green colored powder, ground out from tencha leaves and consumed in its entirety by blending the powder quickly in water or milk. Unlike tea that is steeped in water, matcha tea involves consumption of the whole leaf (by means of the powder) and means that the body absorbs many more antioxidants... in fact, one cup of matcha tea equals about 10 cups of regular green tea in terms of antioxidant content. In addition, by consuming the whole leaf you are also consuming lots of fiber (which will help stabilize blood sugar levels) and minerals that would not be available to you from normal tea. So with one cup of matcha tea, you'll be doing yourself so many favors in terms of increased energy, increased fat burning, and absorption of powerful catechins that protect the body from cancer and lower bad cholesterol.
The main area for the very best matcha is in southern Japan, and the leaves are usually only harvested once a year. The production for superior matcha is stringent: the leaves are eventually covered and hidden from the sun, which increases the chlorophyll and amino acid content tenfold, and then only the youngest leaves are hand picked. The extra chlorophyll gives the leaves, and eventually the matcha, its brilliant jade-like color. Because the process is labor intense, the price of matcha is usually quite high.
The taste of matcha is often described as grassy and sweet, and should have a mouthfeel that is frothy. Some Teavana matcha reviewers note that bad matcha, which will taste overly bitter, often results from using cheap matcha that is not a vibrant emerald color or mixing the powder at too high of a temperature.
Matcha is a delicate substance, simply by how nurtured it is during production, and should usually be used up within a month after opening. But if you have a love affair with green tea, give its milled brethren a try! It is green, earthy and the perfect drink for your holistic life! Or, check out some other green drinks that work wonders on the body!