Matcha, a finely ground green tea from Japan, is a popular flavour in the land of the rising sun and East Asia. The powder of new leaves from shade-grown Camellia sinensis green tea bushes and the food flavouring is believed to have beneficial effects on health.
Now, a group of Japanese researchers from Kumamoto University have shown that anxious behaviour in mice is reduced after consuming Matcha powder or Matcha extract. Its calming effects appear to be due to mechanisms that activate dopamine D1 receptors and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors, both of which are closely related to anxious behaviour, noted the study published in Journal of Functional Foods.
In Japan, historical medicinal uses for Matcha included helping people relax, preventing obesity, and treatment of skin conditions. The researchers, therefore, sought to determine its various beneficial effects.
“Although further epidemiological research is necessary, the results of our study show that Matcha, which has been used as medicinal agent for many years, may be quite beneficial to the human body,” said study leader, Dr Yuki Kurauchi. “We hope that our research into Matcha can lead to health benefits worldwide,” he further added.
While it has its roots in China, it later spread to Japan through Zen Buddhists and is now found almost everywhere, and is frequently referred to as a ‘mood-and-brain’ food. Discovered by Buddhist monks wanting to stay alert during extended periods of meditation, Matcha is considered to improve brain power without any of the downsides associated with other caffeinated drinks.
It is believed to boost memory and concentration; increase energy levels and endurance; helps to burn calories and detoxifies the human body and improves cholesterol levels. It is also known to be an ideal pre-workout beverage as it is packed with catechins. It is fast making its way as an ingredient of significance.
With Indian consumers getting more aware and conscious of healthy eating, consumption of green tea, gluten-free products and super foods have seen a rise and that propels Matcha’s innovative use as an ingredient in ice creams, cupcakes and doughnuts.
Here is an easy recipe you can try.
Matcha ice-cream by Rishav Kanoi, tea expert, The Tea Trove
Preparation Time: 5 Hours (includes freezing)
Servings: 8 cups
Calories: 315 cals
1 tbsp – Matcha green powder
1 cup – Whole milk
2 cups – Heavy whipping cream
¾ cup – White sugar
2 – Eggs
*Whisk Matcha powder in a bowl to remove any lumps; add a splash of milk and whisk until Matcha powder is completely dissolved. Gradually whisk remaining milk into Matcha mixture.
*Combine cream and Matcha mixture in a pot over medium-low heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, for about five minutes.
* Whisk sugar and eggs together in a bowl. Pour 1/2 cup hot Matcha mixture into egg mixture; mix thoroughly. Repeat with remaining Matcha mixture. Pour mixture back into the pot
*Cook and stir Matcha mixture over medium-low heat until heated through, for about three minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
*Refrigerate until chilled, at least for four hours.
*Pour cooled Matcha mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze.