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Matcha tea — a new name in the list of superfoods

Drinking matcha tea is actually the consumption of whole tea leaf as it is ground into a fine powder, giving the person drinking it 100 per cent nutrients of the leaf.

Written by Ishi Khosla | September 2, 2017 12:14:21 am
The two active principles of matcha tea include ‘L-Theanine’ and ‘EGCG (a catechin)’.

Tea is certainly not foreign to Indians, but the novel varieties being offered nowadays — from green, white, and now matcha — are adding to the list of superfoods. The brand new entrant in the market, matcha tea, is a concentrated form of green tea. Green tea is traditionally known to induce mental clarity, cognitive function, physical activation and relaxation. Matcha, which is the ground-up form of green tea (and looks like Henna powder), is used in the Japanese tea ceremony.

Drinking matcha tea is actually the consumption of whole tea leaf as it is ground into a fine powder, giving the person drinking it 100 per cent nutrients of the leaf. Although it has its roots in China, and later spread to Japan through Zen Buddhists, it 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 known to improve brain power without any of the downsides associated with other caffeinated drinks.

The two active principles of matcha tea include ‘L-Theanine’ and ‘EGCG (a catechin)’. The expensive and high-grade matcha tea has the greatest percentage of L-theanine (an amino acid known to relax the mind, and decrease anxiety). It has been found to boost working memory, enhancing brain cognitive function. Caffeine content of matcha tea is also higher than that of green tea (about 35mg per cup). This may also contribute to its alertness-enhancing properties.

Matcha tea is grown in the shade. Once harvested, it is steamed to prevent oxidation, and to maintain its green colour. Studies have shown that matcha has greater potential benefits than other green teas, owing to the levels of antioxidants (naturally occurring chemical compounds that prevent ageing and other chronic diseases). High antioxidant content translates to better protection against the formation of free radicals, which can damage tissues and cells.

Recent findings indicate that the concentration of the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) in matcha tea is 137 times greater than the amount of EGCG available from regular green tea. EGCG is the polyphenol known for its ability to burn calories, fighting inflammation, stimulating cellular repair processes, and contributing to the maintenance of healthy arteries.

As per a study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, consuming matcha tea can increase thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8%-10% of daily energy expenditure, to between 35% and 43% of daily energy expediture. This can certainly be an advantage to weight watchers.  A teaspoon of matcha, added to your day’s list of superfoods, can certainly help health and well-being, both — physical and mental.

Author is a clinical nutritionist and founder of www.theweightmonitor.com and Whole Foods India

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