By Isabel Smith, MS, RD, CDN
Matcha is hot right now, but before we break down why it’s such a hot commodity, let’s cover the basics.
Matcha is a type of nutrient-packed, powdered green tea that is mixed using a whisk with hot water to make a tea. The benefit of matcha is that the whole leaf is consumed instead of the water steeped in the leaf.
More nutrients than regular tea?
Yes, research is suggesting that because the whole leaf is consumed instead of just the water steeped in the leaf, that there is more nutritional benefit. Additionally, matcha tea leaves are well taken care of and are handled carefully, which may also attribute to their richer nutrient content. Lastly, matcha tea leaves are covered with a cloth before harvest, which is said to increase nutrient content and taste.
What types of nutrients?
Matcha tea contains loads of nutrients and antioxidants including vitamins A, B-complex, C, E and K as well as trace minerals and a family of phytonurients called catechin polyphenols.
Catechin polyphenols found in many teas like green and black in particular, are rich in antioxidants and may help to protect cells against free-radical damage that could lead to cancers and heart disease. Matcha in particular contains a particular catechin EGCG (epigallo- catechin gallate) that may help protect against certain cancers such as gastrointestinal, prostate and other cancers and is currently being tested for its efficacy in protecting against a certain type of leukemia.
What’s the difference between matcha tea and green tea?
Although matcha is a type of green tea, the leaves tend to be higher quality than regular green tea leaves and therefore may contain more antioxidants and nutrients; additionally, the style of matcha tea drinking allows for more nutrients to be consumed given the entire leaf is crushed and then mixed into a drink. So yes, you may get more nutrients from matcha than regular green tea.
How to use matcha?
Matcha is usually found in its original form, which is a very rich green powder to be made into a tea; however, it’s also been a popular addition in juices, baked goods and other hot beverages.
What about matcha pills?
Similar to green tea extract, matcha is being packaged in pill-form and contains claims like “10 times the antioxidants of regular green tea” and “137 times the EGCG’s of regular green tea”- as always, food first, and always be careful of the supplements you’re purchasing. It’s always a good idea to check the manufacturers quality assurance statement, and if you’re worried about high dose antioxidant supplements interfering with any treatments or medications always check with your doctor.
Have you tried it? Tell us what you think!