Finely ground tea having a neon-green hue and prepared from the leaves of plants that are cultivated in shade is known as matcha. Especially, this tea is brewed for being served in customary Japanese tea ceremonies. In addition to using this for preparing tea, it is also used in cookies, ice-creams, smoothies, drinks and alcoholic beverages. As expected, matcha tea is costlier compared to other green teas. However, the price of this tea is subject to the manner in which it is produced and/ or the class of this tea powder.
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Matcha tea is prepared by a special process. First you whisk the powdered tea in hot water, which will result in the formation of a frothy liquid. This liquid is drunk like a tea. Occasionally, the powdered matcha tea is also used in the form of an ingredient in other foods as well as non-tea beverages, for instance, smoothies.
This green tea has been traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies for ages. Currently, it has also become very popular among people in the West, especially among those who drink tea.
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Different from majority of the green tea types, matcha comprises the whole Camellia sinensis (a tea species from which various types of teas, including green tea, oolong tea, black tea and white tea are made) leaf. Matcha is essentially cultivated in shade, carefully for many weeks before the leaves are harvested. Following their harvesting, the plants, they are put in processors for grinding the leaves into a delicate powdered form.
Matcha is a green tea, but of much superior quality. Prior to collecting its leaves, the plants that are grown in shade are covered with a view to heighten their color. After harvesting, the leaves are dried, stone ground and subsequently packed in small airtight tins. You can enjoy this special green tea in several different ways. For people in Japan, matcha tea is a crucial part of their tea ceremonies. While other people in Asia as well as in the West drink this tea, as they find its flavour delightful. Often, they also drink this tea during rituals. Currently, this green tea has become very popular worldwide owing to the health benefits it offers.
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The flavour of matcha tea is potent as well as vegetal, which, according to some, is akin to the taste of spinach. While there are other people who feel that the flavour of this green tea is somewhat grassy and it is umami in nature (having a strong meaty flavour). However, to a great extent the flavour of matcha tea depends on its quality as well as its source. Hence, the tea that is used to prepare matcha is very crucial. In fact, many products sold as matcha commercially are actually derived from low-quality green tea. Therefore, you need to ensure that you are buying the right product.
Irrespective of which tea you are using, it is very important to know its source. Ideally, it is best to get your favourite tea from an importer whose stocks move very quickly, as this will enable you to always get fresh tea. In addition, it is advisable that you only add one teaspoon tea to one-third cup of hot water and heat it just short of boiling. Subsequently, stir the liquid using a bamboo whisk. Having done so, you are now ready to drink matcha tea.
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Matcha tea is processed very carefully. It actually begins many weeks before the tea leaves are harvested. The production process involves covering the tea plants roughly three weeks before the harvesting with a view to keep them in as much as 90 percent shade (as mentioned before shade is very important here). When the tea shrubs are covered in this manner, it retards their general growth as well as development, as in the absence of sunlight there is very little photosynthesis. This is undertaken to enable the leaves to build up additional amino acids, which contributes to the wonderful flavour of this special tea.
Matcha tea is made from the best quality tea buds. Following harvesting, these buds are steamed and spread in the open air for drying them out. Once the leaves are dried (they are called tencha), you need to remove the stems and veins and then stone grind them. The leaves are pulverized so finely that they turn into a delicate powder, something similar in texture to talc. This powder is brewed in water to prepare the tea. Unlike other green teas, the brewed tea powder is not filtered or left in the tea pot; instead the powder is also consumed with the flavourful tea.
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Matcha tea encloses caffeine, but in trivial amounts. Similar to any other green tea, matcha tea also encloses a natural chemical compound called L-theanine, which augments the alpha wave actions inside the brain, thereby bringing about a feeling of rest and relaxation. It has been found that L-theanine helps to improve one's ability to concentrate and focus, but it does not stir up the nervous system. Scientists are of the view that this is possibly why we feel calm and refreshed after drinking matcha tea. This is contrary to the effects of consuming coffee, which makes us stressed out and jittery. It is worth mentioning here that Buddhist monks drink this green tea often. They also drink other green teas and oolongs. This could be the secret to their calmness, as they seldom appear to be nervous or agitated. More specifically, this could be the effect of L-theanine present in all green teas.
Matcha tea offers several health benefits and one among them is somewhat amazing - people who drink this special tea have enough energy all through the day. During one study on matcha, scientists initially believed that this was due to the presence of caffeine in the tea, but later discovered that it actually was due to the natural properties of matcha. Findings of another study undertaken recently showed that consumption of matcha tea also enhanced stamina by as much as 24 percent. In fact, matcha can help you in dealing with your routine marathon even when you are confronted with very demanding workout - irrespective of completing a project for the next day or taking your children to school or their soccer practice.
Matcha is almost calorie free and it is a wonderful drink if you are working on a program to lose extra flab. It deals with obesity or excessive weight in two ways. While matcha works to perk up metabolism, it also burns body fat. Findings of a study undertaken recently hint at the fact that matcha may possibly help to burn four-fold calories compared to other teas. The good thing is that it does not strain the body while burning the fat - means it neither raises the heart rate or blood pressure. Therefore, it is definitely a safe alternative to dubious medications or other quick fixes that come with side effect risks. Moreover, when you drink matcha tea, you need not undertake any rigorous workout for burning calories.
The true color of health is definitely green, such as the matcha, which facilitates the safe cleansing as well as purging the body of all hazardous elements. In fact, chlorophyll, which is responsible for the verdant color of green tea and other plants, is basically a potent detoxifier. It facilitates the removal of chemical substances as well as harmful heavy metals from the body. As matcha is grown with much care in shade, it has considerably larger amounts of chlorophyll compared to other green teas available in the market. The elevated chlorophyll content of matcha makes it a much better daily detoxifier.
Matcha is also a green tea that encloses more amino acids, chlorophyll, catechins, polyphenols and vitamins as well as antioxidants than other teas. Scientists have found that when matcha is brewed, the resultant solution contains roughly 10 fold more antioxidants and polyphenols compared to the teas we generally use. Findings of other studies assert that you derive the same nutritional value from drinking one glass of matcha tea and 10 glasses of any other green tea.
Matcha tea encloses a compound called amino acid L-theanine, which helps to unwind the mind. Therefore, this tea is also taken in the form of a natural mood enhancing beverage. Apart from this, matcha is also loaded with amino acids that are responsible for its typical essence, as a result of which its flavour differs from those of the commonly used green teas.
The high amount of antioxidants present in matcha tea is one reason why it is so beneficial for our health. Comparative studies undertaken on this special green tea as well as other vegetables and fruits rich in antioxidant content have shown that every gram of matcha encloses approximately 10 fold more antioxidants compared to other antioxidant-rich foods.
In addition, matcha also encloses elevated levels of catechin EGCg or epicgallocatechin gallate - an antioxidant that combats cancer effectively. In fact, as much as 60 percent of the entire catechin contained by matcha tea is of EGCg form.
As discussed earlier, matcha is prepared by a process that involves steaming and drying out the tender tea leaves carefully grown in shade. Processing the leaves in this manner helps to conserve chlorophyll, a vital chemical for detoxifying the body. As the chlorophyll in the tea is retained in powdered form, when you drink matcha tea it enhances the amount of chlorophyll you ingest.
Apart from these, matcha tea is also sugar-free and loaded with dietary fiber. This green tea is also used in the form of a medicine to invigorate the immune system, diminish LDL cholesterol levels in the blood, encourage the health of teeth and gums, facilitate the digestive process, bring down high blood pressure and also diminish the chances of developing various forms of cancer. Matcha tea is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world for the above mentioned health benefits offered by it.
Chemical analysis of matcha has revealed that this tea is loaded with nutrients and, hence, offers us numerous health benefits. The tea prepared from the finely pulverized tea leaves cultivated in shade contains a number of vitamins, including vitamins A, C, E, K, B6, B-complex, folate, niacin, thiamine and riboflavin. It also encloses a number of essential trace minerals like iron, calcium, potassium, sodium, copper, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc. It is also an excellent source of amino acids that help to enhance mental alertness and calmness and a chemical compound called L-theanine. Matcha is also known to be an alkalyzer and potent blood detoxifier, as it is loaded with chlorophyll. Compared to spinach, it contains nine times more beta carotene and four times more beta carotene than carrots.