Followers of the natural health movement are currently excited about a “wonder drink” that is rich in antioxidants, supposedly forestalls aging, and is said to minimize inflammation. Increasingly in North America, matcha green tea is being whisked and consumed as a beverage, and also used in the preparation of various sweet and savory recipes.
Matcha green tea can now be found in numerous health food products ranging from cereal to energy bars. In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant EGCG available from drinking matcha is up to 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from other commercially available green teas .
You can find matcha green tea used in North American cafés for the preparation of lattes, iced drinks,milkshakes and smoothies. It has also been incorporated into alcoholic beverages such as liqueurs.
Because matcha can be bitter, in Japan it is traditionally served with a small wagashi sweet (intended to be consumed before drinking), and without added milk or sugar. Wagashi is a traditional Japanese confectionery which is often served with tea, especially the types made of mocha, azuki bean paste, and fruits.
The history of matcha green tea
Although matcha green tea may be a newly discovered beverage for many people in North America, the making of powdered green tea dates back almost 1500 years in China.
According to wikimedia.org, in the Tang Dynasty (China) (618-907), tea leaves were steamed and formed into tea bricks for storage and trade. The tea was prepared by roasting and pulverizing the tea, and decocting the resulting tea powder in hot water, adding salt.
In the Song Dynasty (China) (960-1279), a method became popular of making powdered tea from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, and preparing the beverage by whipping the tea powder and hot water together in a bowl.
Powdered tea was slowly forgotten in China, but in Japan it continued to be an important item at Zen monasteries, and became highly appreciated by others in the upper echelons of society during the 14th through 16th centuries.
The production of Matcha green tea
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves. Several weeks before harvest, the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter. Only the finest tea buds are hand-picked.
After harvesting the leaves are laid out flat to dry; they crumble somewhat and become known as tencha. Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha. Only ground tencha qualifies as matcha
There are various grades of matcha depending on such factors as location on the tea bush, treatment before processing, stone grinding methods used, and oxidation.
Health benefits ascribed to matcha green tea
One of several online sources for the purchase of matcha green tea, matchasource.com/, states that matcha tea contains catechins, which seem to be as valuable as vitamin C and E in the fight against health threatening, free radical damage. Matcha tea also contains vitamin C, tocopherols, carotenoids, minerals such as selenium, zinc, chromium and manganese and several phytochemical compounds.
Also on matchasource.com/, you can learn information on how to prepare matcha, find tips for buying, and access recipes, including a sweet and savory recipes download.
Green tea side effects
Tea is high in caffeine. There can be side effects associated with drinking green tea, especially if larger amounts are consumed; interactions with medications, herbs and supplements, and foods can occur.
An excellent source of information regarding green tea side effects is MedlinePlus, a service of the National Institutes of Health.
Topics for green tea on MedlinePlus are:
What is it?
How effective is it?
How does it work?
Are there safety concerns?
Are there interactions with medications?
Are there interactions with herbs and supplements?
Are there interactions with foods?
What dose is used?
The Mayo Clinic has published some studies in regards to green tea and cancer. Click here.
Purchasing matcha green tea
Matcha powdered green tea is more expensive than regular green tea. As with any purchase, a buyer needs to evaluate the product for one’s own self before making a purchase. You can seek out sources of matcha tea at health food stores, high-end grocery stores, or online websites such as matchasource.com.
Note that if you make a purchase of tea from matchasource.com, it is stated on that website that you cannot return tea if you are dissatisfied. Also, you might note that there is a 10% coupon available on that website for the first purchase.
Proceed wisely with its purchase and use
Users new to matcha green tea should learn about both the benefits and the possible side effects of consuming powdered green tea as a beverage or in the preparation of foods. As with any food or beverage that you have not used before, proceed wisely – what may be valuable as a health food for some people may not be considered healthful for others to use.
Some other articles by R.C. Johnson:
The Bento: A Neatly-Arranged ‘Lunch in a Box’
Snow Peas and Snap Peas: Delicious Eaten Fresh or Lightly Sauteed
Lettuce: Creative, Flavorful Ways to Enjoy This Popular Vegetable
Tofu Stir Fry Adds Soy to Your Diet
Asian Salad Ingredients to Pull from Your Pantry Shelf
Rice Cooking Tips
The Use of Stevia Extract as a Sweetener
Bolthouse Farms Mocha Cappuccino and Purely Chocolate (Review)
www. mayoclinic.org/ (search on green tea side effects)