Matcha tea characteristics and benefits

What is Matcha? Matcha is bitter green powdered tea made from the finest Japanese Gyokuro shade-cultivated in the Uji region of Kyoto, Japan. Matcha comes from Gyokuro leaves that have been steamed and dried. All stems and veins are removed from the leaves. The pure dried leaves (tencha) are then stone ground into a super fine powder to the consistency of talc. It is the highest quality tea available in Japan.

Matcha contains highly concentrated green tea antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, chlorophyll and the unique L-theanine amino acids found almost exclusively in green tea. Thick and concentrated, this precious green tea inspires focus and calm.

Traditionally, when it is prepared, only the green powdered tea and hot water are mixed together; nothing is added to the tea. A sweet is enjoyed before drinking the matcha, which perfectly complements its bitter taste.

Matcha is of two types- koicha and usucha. Koicha is sweeter, mellower, thicker in preparation and the choice of enthusiasts. It comes from leaves of plants which are more than thirty years old. Usucha, on the other hand, is thinner and bitter in taste and comes from leaves of plants less than thirty years old.

In addition to the soluble components of Matcha- theanine (an amino acid), caffeine, vitamin C and tannin- you also benefit from the insoluble components like vitamin A and fibre of the tea leaf which are available in the powdered tea.

To preserve the freshness of Matcha, it is advisable to store it in the freezer in air-tight tea jars. Before use, it has to be brought down to room temperature and strained through a fine sieve.

Health benefits

Green tea and green tea extracts are used to treat breast, stomach, and skin cancers. Green tea and green tea extracts have also been used for improving mental alertness, effecting weight loss, lowering cholesterol levels, and protecting skin from sun damage.

However, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine says: “There are not enough reliable data to determine whether green tea can aid in weight loss, lower blood cholesterol levels, or protect the skin from sun damage.”

Green tea is primarily used as a beverage. Its extracts can also be taken in capsules and are sometimes used in skin products.

Like black teas though, green teas are rich in natural plant-derived antioxidant compounds called polyphenols which neutralize harmful free radicals. Research shows that these free radicals cause heart disease, some kinds of cancer and increase the risk of strokes.

References: www.hibiki-an.com