Panacea Or Not? What You Should Know About Matcha Green Tea
Written by: Joanne Beccarelli
Over the last several years, green tea has gained notoriety and popularity for providing healing benefits. So much, in fact, that it has become commonplace and can now be found in most stores and coffee shops, used as an ingredient in prepared foods and is even made into ice creams.
Yet, just as green tea has become well known, matcha green tea is now emerging as the new way to reap all the goodness green tea has to offer.
What is matcha green tea and how is it different?
Simply speaking, matcha green tea is a powdered form of highest quality green tea where the entire tea leaf is consumed. Green tea that is grown for matcha use is carefully cultivated in shade for maximum chlorophyll concentration and varied flavor (check out Why You Need to Add Wheatgrass to Your Healing Supplies to read why chlorophyll is good for you).
The tea is then hand selected, steamed to stop any fermentation, de-stemmed, dried and aged before being ground into the fine powder that is used. By cultivating the tea differently and consuming the tea leaves, matcha provides a concentrated form of nutrients one would get from steeped green tea.
Within the matcha group of teas, there are still more distinctions. The grades of matcha green tea, often described as “kitchen” to “cafe” to “classic” and ultimately to “ceremonial grade,” distinguish varying tastes and textures, giving users options and choices, depending on the ultimate use. For instance, there is no reason to waste the most expensive ceremonial matcha tea that contains subtle flavors and silky texture on use in a smoothie or as a side ingredient in a cooked dish. For these uses, kitchen or cafe grade make more sense.
What health benefits will matcha green tea provide and what is the debate?
In the end, matcha green tea is a concentrated source of the nutrients that are in all green teas and many experts cite a long list of health benefits from these, which are summarized below. Yet, many of the more eye-opening claims come with inconsistent levels of scientific validation and proof, ranging from very conclusive, positive proof and other studies pointing to questionable merit.
This leaves us without medical consensus for health claims, begs for further exploration by the scientific community and puts the decision about what to embrace back into the hands of the individual as personal choice.
Here are some of the potential health benefits from drinking matcha green tea:
- Heart health, cholesterol and blood pressure support
- Metabolism boosting and weight loss support
- Detoxifying and cleansing
Here is what is not being debated…
Matcha green tea is rich in catechins, more scientifically known as epigallocatechin gallates (EGCg), which are flavonoids and polyphenols known as antioxidants. Further, a study by the University of Colorado published with the US National Library of Medicine states “that the concentration of EGCg available from drinking matcha is 137 times greater than the amount of EGCg available from China Green Tips green tea.”
Panacea or not?
So, if antioxidants are good for us and matcha green tea provides them in amounts beyond steeped tea, then why can’t we just claim matcha green tea is great for us?
Basically, it falls back to two issues. First, we do not yet know definitively how helpful the antioxidants in green tea are for humans. That is the medical claim issue. Second, the Food and Drug Administration Labeling guidelines are very specific about how to use terms like “high-potency’ and “antioxidant” for foods.
So, if you are wondering why you are not seeing any of those terms on the labels for green tea products, there is the reason.
In the end, here’s how I look at it. Green tea and matcha green tea are drinks I enjoy and consume rather than black teas or coffee. Matcha is also in products I use and buy such as dried greens like Organifi, which also seems to give me a lift and good energy, much like drinking fresh vegetable juices do. If matcha provides extra health benefits along the way, I will be thrilled, but right now, I am satisfied with how I feel and the potential for more good.
NOTE: If you have any serious medical condition, are pregnant or trying to get pregnant, you should discuss with your Doctor whether matcha green tea is okay for you. Similarly, if you take medication, ask your Doctor or pharmacist about contraindications.
Joanne Beccarelli is a holistic health coach, juicing junkie, writer, soon to be cookbook author and recovered emotional eater. Inspired by many great voices in the health-thru-food revolution, Joanne found her way out of hiding in shame (losing almost 100 lbs in the process) and stepped away from the corporate world. She now dedicates every day to helping others who are overwhelmed, overworked, and overstressed, find awareness, fulfilment and better health.
Joanne has a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from eCornell/T. Colin Campbell Foundation, and became a Certified Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is also a member of American Association of Drugless Practitioners (AADP), and the International Association of Health Coaches (IAHC).
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