Matcha tea is no big secret to those living in Japan, for Buddhist monks have been drinking it for over 900 years to help to keep awake and alert and focused throughout their long days and nights of intense meditation. The Japanese also like to drink it as part of a lavish tea ceremony and until now, virtually all matcha tea has been consumed in the Far East.
As with many healthy food and drinks however, matcha tea has now come to the attention of the super health conscious West, and the UK in particular. It is especially popular with students, who need to be alert and awake to be able to study and revise for up and coming exams. So what exactly is matcha green tea?
Matcha tea is 100% natural, organic green tea leaves which have been carefully ground down to form a fine powder, and while other teas use only the smooth parts of the leaf, matcha is made from the leaves, veins and stem. You should think of matcha tea as the super tea amongst teas, as it’s super-concentrated and packed full of the goodness you need to help keep looking and feeling happy and healthy.
Typically the tea leaves are grown under cover for the last two weeks of cultivation to produce lots of chlorophyll (the bright green good stuff). They are then dried and slowly ground between two granite rocks to a very fine powder. This is then packed immediately in a vacuum sealed tin, to lock in all the nutrients. health food thanks to its high levels of antioxidants – which help the body fight off infection and disease.
Just one cup of matcha tea can give your health a real boost as it is reported to not only reduce stress and help weight-loss, but also has a caffeine content higher than regular green tea but lower than coffee, and it contains 70 times the amount of anti oxidants of a glass of orange juice. Matcha also contains two special amino acids called theophylline and L-theanine. Like all green tea, matcha naturally contains caffeine but, unlike coffee, it works together with these two important amino acids to give you a sustained energy boost which can last 6 hours. By stimulating the production of alpha brain waves, L-theanine helps to create a state of mental alertness but keeping you relaxed at the same time.
And don’t think that by simply grinding up green tea you will get matcha tea, you won’t. Matcha tea is produced by the best tea growers in Japan who take great care of the tea bushes through the winter and just before the plucking season in May. At this time they cover the bushes to shade out most of the sunlight, this puts the bushes into stress and they produce huge amounts of chlorophyll which is jam packed with amino acids – the good stuff!
The finest leaves are then plucked by hand and steam dried – the leaves are separated from the stems and the remaining super quality dried leaves are called tencha. This tencha is then ground to a very fine powder to make matcha green tea.
For more information about Matcha Tea, or to buy it, visit TeaPigs.co.uk
*All pictures courtesy of TeaPig.co.uk