Matcha is gaining popularity rapidly, with matcha lattes, teas and desserts popping up everywhere, from coffee shops to health stores.
Matcha, like green tea is made from Camellia sinensis plants. It’s grown differently, however, and has a unique nutritional profile.
To avoid direct sunlight, farmers grow matcha by covering their tea plants between 20 and 30 days before harvest. This protects the plants from direct sunlight and increases their chlorophyll production.
After the tea leaves have been harvested, the stems are removed. The leaves are then ground into matcha powder.
Matcha has all the nutrients found in the whole tea leaf. This results in more antioxidants and caffeine than green tea.
Matcha and its components have been studied for a range of health benefits. They can protect your liver and promote heart health.
These 7 health benefits of matcha are based on science.
Matcha is high in catechins. These are plant compounds that act as natural antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that help to stabilize harmful free radicals. These are compounds which can cause damage to cells and chronic diseases.
Matcha powder can be added to hot water to make tea. This will give you all the nutrients of the whole leaf. This tea will have more antioxidants and catechins than if you steep green tea leaves in hot water.
According to one estimate, matcha contains up to 137 times more catechins than other types of green tea.
A study found that mice receiving matcha supplements decreased damage from free radicals (2).
Matcha can be a good choice for increasing your antioxidant intake. This may prevent cell damage and lower your risk for developing chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s (3).
> SUMMARYMatcha is rich in antioxidants that may help reduce cell damage and prevent chronic diseases.
The liver is essential for health. It plays an important role in detoxifying toxins, metabolizing drugs and processing nutrients.
Matcha has been shown to protect your liver’s health in some studies.
One study found that matcha helped to prevent liver and kidney damage in diabetic rats for 16 weeks.
A second study compared nonalcoholic fatty liver disease patients with placebos and green tea extracts to 500 mg daily for 90 days.
Green tea extract dramatically reduced liver enzyme levels after 12 weeks. These enzymes can be elevated in high amounts, which is a sign of liver damage (5).
A review of 15 studies also found that green tea consumption was associated with a lower risk of developing liver disease ((6)).
It is important to keep in mind that this association may also be influenced by other factors.
Matcha’s effects on the general public require more research, as most of the research has been limited to animal studies.
> SUMMARYSome studies show that matcha can prevent liver damage and reduce the risk of developing liver disease. Additional studies are required to examine the effects of matcha on the general population.
Research has shown that some of the components found in matcha may help improve brain function.
One study of 23 participants examined how people performed in a series tasks that were designed to measure brain performance.
Participants drank either matcha tea, or a bar with 4 grams matcha. The control group drank a placebo or bar.
Researchers found that matcha had a greater effect on attention, reaction time and memory than the placebo (7).
A small study found that older adults who ate 2g of green tea powder per day for 2 months had better brain function (8).
Matcha also contains more caffeine than green tea. It packs 35 mg of caffeine per teaspoon (about 1 gram of matcha powder).
Numerous studies have shown that caffeine intake can improve brain function. These include faster reaction times and increased attention.
Matcha also contains L-theanine which is a compound that alters the effects caffeine. This helps to promote alertness and avoid the crash in energy levels due to caffeine intake (12).
L-theanine also has been shown to increase Alpha wave activity in the brain (13). This may help induce relaxation as well as decrease stress levels.
> SUMMARYMatcha has been proven to increase attention, memory, reaction time, and speed up learning. It contains L-theanine and caffeine, which can help improve brain function in many ways.
Matcha is rich in health-promoting compounds. Some of these have been shown to prevent cancer in animal and test tube studies.
One study found that green tea extract reduced the size of tumors and slowed growth of breast cancer cells in rats (14).
Matcha is especially high in epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), a type of catechin that has been shown to have powerful anti-cancer properties.
A test tube study showed that matcha EGCG helped to kill prostate cancer cells (15).
Another test tube study has shown that EGCG can be effective against skin, lung and liver cancers (16, 17, 18, 18).
These were animal and test tube studies that looked at specific compounds in matcha. These results will need to be further researched to see if they can be translated to humans.
> SUMMARYTest tubes and animal studies have shown that matcha compounds may inhibit the growth cancer cells.
Heart disease is the leading cause for death in the world, accounting for approximately one-third of all deaths among people over 35 (19).
Studies have shown that green tea has the same nutrient profile as matcha and may be beneficial in preventing heart disease.
Research has shown that green tea can lower total and “bad”, LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides (21, 22).
It may also prevent LDL cholesterol oxidation, which is another factor that could protect against heart disease (22).
Studies have shown that green tea has a lower risk of stroke and heart disease (23-24).
Drinking matcha, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can help protect your heart health and prevent disease.
> SUMMARYStudies have shown that matcha and green tea can reduce the risk of heart disease.
If you take a look at any weight-loss supplement, there is a good chance that “green tea extract” will be listed as an ingredient.
It is well-known that green tea can aid in weight loss. Studies have shown that green tea may increase metabolism, which can lead to increased energy expenditure and fat burning.
A small study found that moderate exercise with green tea extract increased fat burning by 17% (25).
A further study of 14 participants found that green tea extract supplementation significantly increased 24-hour energy expenditure (26).
A review of 11 studies found that green tea helped to maintain and reduce body weight (27).
These studies were mostly focused on green tea extract. Matcha, however, comes from the same plant so should also have the same effects.
> SUMMARYResearches show that green tea extract can increase metabolism and fat loss, which could help with weight loss.
Matcha has many health benefits, and it tastes great.
Traditional matcha tea can be made by adding 1-2 teaspoons (2-2-4 grams) of matcha powder to a cup of boiling water. Then, add 2 ounces (59ml) of hot water and whisk it with a bamboo spoon.
You can adjust the matcha powder to water ratio according to your preference.
You can make a thinner cup of tea by reducing the amount of powder to one-half teaspoon (1 gram) and mixing it with 3-4 ounces (89-118ml) hot water.
You can make a concentrated version by combining 2 teaspoons (4g) of the powder with 1 ounce (30ml) water.
You can also make matcha lattes, protein smoothies or puddings if you feel inspired.
Moderation is the key. Matcha has many health benefits. However, it is important to remember that more is not always better.
Some people have reported liver problems after drinking high amounts of green-tea daily (28).
Matcha can also increase your exposure (29, 30, 31).
Matcha powder’s maximum permissible intake is not known and will vary from person to person. Matcha should be consumed in moderation to ensure safety.
To reap the many health benefits of matcha, it is best to limit consumption to just 1-2 cups daily. Look for organic certified varieties.
> SUMMARYThere is a lot of ways to make matcha. You can pick the one that you like best. You can also incorporate it into many different recipes.
Matcha is made from the same plant that green tea. However, because it’s made from the whole leaf, it contains more antioxidants and beneficial compounds.
Matcha and its components have been shown to have a range of health benefits, including weight loss and a lower risk of developing heart disease.
The best part is that the tea is easy to make so you can easily incorporate it into your daily routine and add some flavor to your day.