Regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a tea or coffee snob, chances are, you have encountered someone drinking a bright green drink and thought to yourself:
“What in the world is that?!”
In recent years, the very Instagram-able and aesthetically pleasing matcha tea has seen a surge in popularity and you can order it in nearly every coffee shop, both chain and local. But what exactly is matcha and why has it become the new go-to drink of people looking for a healthier alternative to coffee? Has the good ‘ole cup of morning brew finally met its competition?
What Is Matcha?
To set the record straight, matcha is not just a greener green tea. It does, however, share the origins of the traditional green tea we have come to know and love. Matcha powder is made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them carefully into a smooth bright-green powder.
Why is it so green, you may wonder? What gives matcha this beautiful and aesthetic color?
To ensure the potency of matcha, green tea bushes are grown in shade, causing the amount of chlorophyll to increase, thus resulting in a bright green hue.
Unlike traditional green tea, where tea leaves are steeped and tossed away, while the remaining liquid is consumed, matcha powder is dissolved into hot water using a traditional matcha whisk, making the drink rich, extremely potent, and full of nutrients that are contained in the ground tea leaves.
The finest and highest quality of matcha comes from Japan, where it has been a part of traditional tea ceremonies for centuries, making matcha an important part of Japanese culture and diet. However, the use of matcha has outgrown its origins and it has become a popular choice as a healthier alternative to coffee.
What Is Matcha Better Than Coffee?
Aside from its great taste and a fun pop of color, matcha offers a multitude of benefits that makes it the healthiest choice of beverage in the coffee shop. Let’s explore how matcha heals both the mind and the body with its nutrients and yummy taste below.
Matcha is Packed with Nutrients
Similarly to green tea, matcha contains antioxidants called catechins, which fight free-radicals in the body and help reduce cell damage caused by them. The differentiating factor in matcha is that it contains the nutrients from the entire leaf, making it more potent. In fact, studies have shown that matcha contains up to 137 times more catechins than other green tea, making it the powerhouse of all anti-oxidant-rich foods.
Matcha Promotes Mental Clarity
Unlike the anxiety-inducing effects that coffee often produces, matcha is packed with a compound known as L-Theanine. It is proven to improve cognitive function while reducing anxiety and promoting relaxation. It is the safer choice for those sensitive to caffeine and suffering from caffeine jitters.
Matcha Improves Oral Health
While many coffee drinkers battle with the teeth stains and coffee breath, matcha drinkers may sip their favorite beverage while fighting bad breath and improving their overall oral health. It all boils down to the antioxidants that matcha contains. The catechins found in matcha have the ability to modify sulfur compounds in the mouth, which are the primary causes of bad breath. Matcha doesn’t stain teeth in a way coffee does, it actually reduces the risk of gum disease. Needless to say, your mouth loves matcha with its entirety, not just the taste buds!
Matcha Provides Lasting Energy
If you are a coffee drinker, you are probably familiar with the intense wave of energy followed by jitters and eventually a crash, resulting in the pouring of another cup to sustain your energy for the remainder of the day, or worse, a sugar craving.
In contrast to coffee, matcha is the drink of relaxed alertness. Matcha is rich in antioxidant L-Theanine, which releases caffeine into the body over a longer period of time rather than all at once. It takes matcha about three to four hours to distribute the caffeine into the body resulting in sustained and lasting energy levels. The slow distribution of caffeine negates the jitters and the feeling of caffeine crash following absorption of high amounts of caffeine as L-Theanine is also responsible for providing calming effects and reduction of stress and anxiety.
Matcha is the superior drink to coffee for many reasons, taste being just one of them. It heals your mind, body, and spirit with its nutrient-packed properties, and it looks so good while doing it!
If you have yet to try matcha, prepare to fall in love with the taste and the feeling that follows. But don’t take our word for it, try it out for yourself!