What Is Matcha?
Matcha is a powder that’s made of finely ground green tea leaves from the Camellia sinensis plant. Farmers grow the plants in the shade for much of the time, which boosts the plants' chlorophyll and amino acids, and gives them their vibrant green color.
Matcha uses the entire tea leaf. Hence, matcha tea has higher levels of nutrients such as caffeine, vitamins, and fiber than other types of green tea. You can use matcha powder in tea, lattes, smoothies, and even baked goods.
Matcha is rich in caffeine and amino acids. Like green tea, matcha is high in antioxidants, including catechins, which may help prevent cell damage and lower your risk of certain diseases. Some studies also suggest that the catechins and caffeine found in matcha may have a mild benefit in weight loss and management.
Matcha might also:
Promote heart health
The compounds in matcha are similar to those in green tea, which have been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, compared with coffee. The catechins in matcha and green tea may decrease oxidative stress—an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body—and prevent inflammation. They're also very good for your heart and could lower your risk of atherosclerosis (the hardening of your arteries), high blood pressure, and heart disease.
Could improve brain function
Matcha may provide a temporary boost to your brain. In a small study, participants who either ate or drank matcha showed better attention, memory, and response time than the control group. However, scientists believe it could be the caffeine in the matcha, so more research is needed to understand how matcha may affect brain function.
May protect liver
Green tea and matcha show some promise in reducing your risk of liver disease. A meta-analysis found that drinking green tea could lower your chances of liver cancer.
However, some studies show that green tea extracts and supplements may cause liver damage. Instead of a supplement, opt for pure green teas and high-quality matcha.
Matcha doesn’t have a lot of vitamins and minerals. But its antioxidants and caffeine may boost your brain performance and reduce your risk of some diseases.
Matcha also contains:
- Catechins (epigallocatechin-3-gallate)
- Quercetin, rutin, and chlorophyll (plant pigments)
Nutrients per serving
A half teaspoon (1 gram) of matcha powder contains:
- Calories: 3
- Protein: 1 gram
- Fat: 0 grams
- Carbohydrates: 0 grams
- Fiber: 1 gram
- Sugar: 0 grams
Matcha is usually made into tea or added into baked goods. While matcha on its own is low in calories and sugar, the nutritional information can change depending on how you're using it.
Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
Matcha tea is a type of green tea, which has been used for centuries in China and Japan. When you add matcha powder to hot water and blend it with a whisk, it creates a sweet, creamy flavor and texture different from other teas. You can drink it hot or iced, and it may have some health benefits.
Protecting against cancer
Catechins in matcha, especially epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), may protect cells from DNA damage and slow tumor growth. Some studies on animals show that EGCG might prevent some types of cancers, but we need more research to know for sure.
Supporting dental health
EGCG in matcha can help slow bacterial growth that causes plaque and cavities. In a lab study, matcha was also found to be better at reducing bad breath than mints, chewing gum, or parsley-seed oil. It might also help relieve symptoms of gum disease.
Antioxidants in green teas, such as matcha, protect your cells against damage from free radicals. This can help lower inflammation and prevent some chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.
How to Prepare Matcha
You can find matcha at most grocery stores, health stores, or online. Once you've opened it, the powder will stay fresh for about 2 months when stored in an air-tight container in the freezer or refrigerator. It's available in three different grades with different flavors and qualities:
- Cooking is the least expensive grade of matcha, but it's fine for baking and cooking.
- Premium is produced from tea leaves at the top of the plant, and it's good for tea.
- Ceremonial is used for Japanese tea ceremonies and is made of the finest matcha leaves. Opt for this if you want the best flavor and nutrients.
How to prepare matcha tea
Matcha tea is easy to make, but you don't just steep a tea bag. You add matcha powder to a cup of hot water and mix it with a bamboo whisk.
- Boil water and add 8 to 12 ounces to a mug.
- Add 1 or 2 scoops of matcha powder (depending on how strong you like it).
- Use a matcha whisk to blend the powder into the water until the mixture is frothy.
- Add honey or sugar for a sweeter flavor.
Tea isn't the only way to get matcha in your diet. You can add it to just about anything. Here are some ways to use matcha:
- Add it to your iced or hot latte
- Blend it into a fruit smoothie
- Whisk it into a homemade salad dressing
- Add it to your morning oatmeal or yogurt
- Sprinkle a few tablespoons on some popcorn
- Make a matcha spice blend with garlic powder, pepper, paprika, and sea salt