One hundred thirty times — that’s how much the super-trendy, super-old Japanese matcha tea is supposed to beat regular green tea with when it comes to antioxidants. But what does that really mean? And is there a purpose for including a teaspoon of the — some would say not exactly tasty — matcha powder?
“I definitely think matcha can help prevent [illnesses] and keep you healthy when it comes to diseases,” says Rachel Berman, dietitian and health content manager for About.com.
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Matcha is a green tea and research shows that the antioxidants (more precisely, catechins) in it reduce the risk of cancer. Furthermore, green tea contains serotonin, which can help reduce stress and work as a mood enhancer. Last but certainly not least, it can help increase metabolism. But Berman is hesitant to tout it as a cure-all:“I wouldn’t necessarily say ‘Drink green tea and you will lose weight,'" she says. "The amount of calories you may burn won’t make up for having a cheeseburger at lunch."
One of the reasons why matcha is making waves more than normal green tea is the way it's brewed.
“Matcha is a powder and it’s the entire leaf, versus brewing leaves in water, which won’t give you as much of the health benefits,” the dietitian tells us.
Matcha contains caffeine, too, and Berman doesn’t recommend going over four or five cups a day, or drinking it past 5 p.m.
“Just incorporate it as a substitute for a mid-afternoon soda or coffee,” she says.
Tthe conclusion must be that matcha is worth a try, but one question still remains: Why has a tea that's been around since the 12th century become so popular now?
“I think that people are looking for ways to improve their diet any way possible," Berman says. "Certain foods go in and out of trend all the time, so maybe people are looking for a way to get antioxidants since there has been so much research about how good green tea is. Why not have the one that is even more powerful than just regular green tea?”
Making sense of matcha
- Matcha only grows in Japan.
- It's known as a mood enhancer because of its amino acid content.
- The greener and softer matcha is, the more expensive it is.
If you find this wonder tea a tiny bit too expensive, Berman recommends you instead ask for a really high quality of green tea. You will probably get a lot of the same benefits from it, she says.