Matcha in Tokyo – My first taste
Having lived in Tokyo for fourteen months of my life, one might imagine that I developed a taste for matcha while living in Japan. Not the case.
I experienced the traditional tea-making ceremony a few times, very occasionally ordered matcha from a cafe because it seemed like the right thing to do at least a few times simply because I was living in the land of match, and I of course tasted the various matcha-flavored products like kit-kat and matcha mochi. But matcha remained at the outskirts of my flavor palette. It was fine, but I really didn’t have a deep appreciation for it. Same thing with regular green tea.
However, I’ve come around to this superfood: it’s loaded with health benefits, and finding high-quality matcha makes all the difference – it’s sweeter than lower quality versions which are often quite bitter. Mix some organic, high-quality match powder with dairy-free milk and you’ve got a recipe for super-fueled deliciousness.
First – the health benefits
Green tea is loaded with antioxidants – and matcha even moreso. Green tea and matcha are derived from the same plant, but with matcha, we actually consume the ground up leaf, therefore ingesting up to 15 times the nutritional benefits of a cup of brewed green tea.
At this point it’s common knowledge that antioxidants are crucial in helping to protect the body against damage from free radicals, which make us susceptible to inflammation, weight gain, and disease. One gram of matcha contains more ORAC units of antioxidants than almost every other food on the planet: 1,384 units compared to 55 in acai berries, for example.
Furthermore, matcha contains Vitamins A and C, selenium, chromium, zinc, magnesium, polyphenols, fiber, and chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is another potent super-nutrient with a whole host of health benefits.
It’s not just that matcha is full of the good stuff – it’s chock full of even better stuff that helps prevent and cure the really bad stuff, like cancer.
Matcha is particularly rich in a unique type of antioxidants called catechins, which make it potent than many other natural antioxidant powerhouses, such as spinach and broccoli. Catechins have powerful anti-cancer properties and have been clinically show to slow or halt the progression of ‘undesirable’ cell colonies and may have immunoprotective qualities for patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
In my extensive research into anti-cancer nutrition and supplements, green tea came up again and again, which makes sense due to its anti-oxidative power. Numerous studies indicate a correlation between green tea drinking and lower rates of cancer.
Matcha does contain caffeine, although much less compared to a cup of coffee. Caffeine itself is somewhat controversial in the wellness realm, but numerous studies have proven that is has a beneficial impact on brain functioning; while some people are naturally more sensitive to caffeine, generally speaking any negatives effects typically arise when hormones are already out of balance and when excessive quantities are consumed.
As for matcha, the lower caffeine levels effectively stimulate the system without the jitters. Furthermore, green tea contains L-theanine, an amino acid that increases the activity of GABA, a neurotransmitter in the brain that has anti-anxiety effects. L-theanine also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain. Finally, it may even have synergistic effects with caffeine.
Numerous studies also indicate that green tea may have long-term beneficial effects for the brain: its protective effects on neurons may help lower risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Weight Loss, Fat Burning and Physical Performance
Catechins help boost metabolic rate, promote physical endurance and aid in weight loss efforts. Studies on green tea and weight loss generally show improvement in metabolic rate and fat burning capacity. One study found significant decreases in body fat percentage, body weight, waist circumference, and abdominal fat over a three month trial. Findings on these studies as a whole are promising yet inconclusive and warrant further investigation.
Chronic Disease Prevention and Longevity
Not only is green tea an anti-bacterial, it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels, crucial in mitigating risk of type II diabetes.
Green tea consumption is also associated with lower risk of cardiovascular disease, attributed to its protective effect on LDL cholesterol particles.
Given its positive correlation with disease prevention, it’s no wonder that increased green tea consumption is associated with longevity… and with all these health benefits, it’s no wonder matcha lattes and matcha-infused foods have been springing up everywhere.
SuperPower Matcha Latte Recipe
- 1 cup coconut milk (any non-dairy milk will do, but I prefer coconut to any other)
- 1/2-1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 scoop organic vanilla protein powder
- 1/2 – 1 tsp matcha powder
- 1/8-1/4 tsp spirulina
- 1/8 tsp vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
- 1/2 tsp maca*
- 1/2 tsp baobob*
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- Optional – add a teaspoon of honey or stevia to taste (Avoid any refined or artificial sweeteners. My protein powder is naturally sweetened with monk fruit, which has zero sugars, so I typically don’t add any additional sweetener.)
*Leave out or add any powdered food supplements desired, but I love maca and baobab for their benefits!
- Heat the coconut milk in a small saucepan until just about to boil.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend it up for a few seconds, pour into your favorite mug.
- OR, heat all ingredients on the stove, whisking together until thoroughly blended and bringing just to a boil.
- Enjoy a super-powered day!