Here’s to the Matcha Lovers out there!

Great news! Kreed Botanicals have added matcha to the store!

Brief History of Matcha

The development and cultivation of green tea is thought to have begun sometime in the Tang Dynasty (7-10th century) where the tea was harvested and formed into tea bricks which were created for storage and for the efficient transportation of the tea over long distances.

Initially the tea was prepared by roasting and pulverizing, then followed by decocting the resulting tea powder in hot water, adding salt. From these origins the process evolved until the grinding of steamed green tea became popular in the Song Dynsaty (10th–13th Century). The method 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 became popular in the latter part of the 12th century.

Preparation and consumption of powdered tea was formed into a ritual by Zen Buddhists, who cultivated the green tea plant, called sencha, by growing it under shade conditions thus maximizing the therapeutic benefits of the green tea, or what became known as Matcha.

What began as a sencha plant, evolved into what is known as tencha, the basis for this highly revered and carefully cultivated shade grown green tea plant.

The Zen Buddhists were very aware of the meditational benefits of this Matcha green tea, which brought to them a greater sense of clarity and well-being.

They found that in drinking this tea before their afternoon meditations that it enabled them to be much more centered, focused, and maintain a level of sustained energy throughout the afternoon which they had never experienced before. This special green tea eventually became known as “Matcha, the Ceremonial tea of the temple high priests”.

Even the warriors, the Shogun, saw the remarkable benefits of this ceremonial tea, for it gave them that extra sustained energy and mental acuity. Whenever possible, this was their ceremonial drink prior to going into battle. 

Zen Buddhism and along with it the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea, were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk, Eisai.

Different Types of Matcha

In addition to the different grades, there are also two types of matcha: koicha (thick tea) and usucha (thin tea).

Koicha has a mellower, sweeter flavor and is mixed with relatively little water to form a thick emerald brew. It is used exclusively for Japanese tea ceremonies.

Usucha is less sweet, and is whisked vigorously with more water to create a thinner, frothier tea.

Premium grade is more of an everyday beverage. It is still very good and much easier to find.

The grading system above is purely conceptual. In reality, there is no governing body to regulate the labeling of matcha products. Different companies can call matcha whatever they want!

In the West, you will find many companies labeling their products as Ceremonial grade when in reality they are Premium grade.

Ingredient grade is cheaper and is added as an ingredient to foods and beverages such as smoothies, protein shake, latte, cakes, iced cream, chocolate and cupcake!

This grade of matcha needs a stronger flavor to compete with the other flavors in foods and beverages. It is mixed with older tea leaves, which have stronger flavors.

Lower grade matcha would be known simply as green tea powder.

Matcha VS Green Tea Powder

What are the differences between a high quality matcha and a low quality green tea powder?

A high quality matcha has a vivid green color, subtle sweetness and grassy aroma. It is smooth with a hint of astringency. On the other hand, a low quality powder will taste more flat and abrasive.

There are a number of reasons why this is the case.

Growing conditions

For matcha, tea plants are grown in shaded conditions before harvesting takes place. This slows down growth and encourages the tea buds to produce more theanine.

Raw Leaves Used

Matcha is made from younger tea buds that are harvested earlier in the season. Stems are veins are removed. These higher quality leaves are more tender and soluble. They contain more theanine and antioxidants.

Lower quality powder is made from mature leaves that are more fibrous. Stems and veins are retained.

Powdering Method

Matcha is ground into fine powder using slow-turning granite grinding wheels. Friction is minimized and tea leaves are not burned in the process, allowing the leaves to retain chlorophyll.

Lower quality powder is pulverized using air pressure. The friction caused by this process over-cooks the leaves, rendering them yellow-brown. It exposes the fragile particles to heat and reduces its nutrition value

Country

Matcha is sourced from Japan. The seller needs to show that the tea hasn’t been polluted by radiation.

Lower quality is sourced from China. The seller should be able to demonstrate the product is safe from pesticides and heavymetals.

Heath Benefits

Full of Powerful Antioxidants

Just about everyone knows antioxidants are quite healthy for the body. Matcha, in particular, contains roughly five times as many antioxidants as any other food rich in antioxidants. Furthermore, match contains catechins, which are natural antioxidants. Some of the benefits these antioxidants have on the body is promoting healthy skin by blocking the harmful effects of ultraviolent rays and stabilizing free radicals, which can damage cells and increase an individual’s risk of certain chronic diseases.

Since matcha contains nutrients from all parts of the green tea leaf, consuming matcha often means consuming more catechins than steeping other types of green tea. The powder, after all, does not leave the water and individuals drink it all, whereas the leaves are removed from the water in other green teas.

Increased Energy of Jitters

Caffeine is a popular way to boost energy quickly, which is why many individuals begin their day by consuming a cup of coffee. Unfortunately, caffeine also results in what many refer to as the “jitter”, which means feeling shaky. Caffeine can also cause nervousness, increase blood pressure to dangerous levels, and cause withdrawal symptoms due to reliance on it to get through each day.

However, matcha can boost an individual’s energy without causing these effects. Although green tea, including matcha, does contain some caffeine, it is not nearly as much compared to a cup of coffee. Furthermore, the energizing effects of matcha do not come from caffeine, but rather from the amino acid L-Theanine, which helps boost energy but also stabilizes the effects and provide the drinker with a sense of calm.

Boosted Immune System

Beyond the immune-boosting effects antioxidants have on the body, studies indicate the catechins in matcha also have antibiotic properties which help keep the body healthy. Additionally, match is full of many other nutrients, such as flavonoids, iron, protein, calcium, potassium, as well a vitamins A and C, which help keep the immune system strong and ready to fight off many illnesses. For instance, the flavonoids help reduce bad breath and soothe a sore throat, and in conjunction with the antioxidants, kill bacteria responsible for many viruses and infections, such as flu and the common cold.

Protection Against Disease

Some of the serious diseases matcha helps protect the body against are heart disease, certain cancers, and even diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and does so in many different ways. Concerning heart disease, matcha helps decrease triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as ‘bad’ cholesterol, and increases high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, which is the good kind. It also helps prevent LDL cholesterol from oxidizing. All of these help to reduce an individual’s risk of developing heart disease during their lifetime.

When it comes to cancer, antioxidants, as mentioned, help to stabilize harmful free radicals, which studies have linked to cancer. As well, preliminary research indicates the catechin epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) in matcha helps kill off prostate cancer cells and is effective in the fight against lung, liver, and skin cancer. Other general studies with green tea extract and matcha indicate minimal damage to liver and kidneys, as well as a decrease in the risk of fatty liver disease, although more studies are necessary to strengthen this link.

Promoting Healthy Weight Loss

Losing weight is a significant struggle for many individuals around the world, which is why there are many diets and other touted methods of losing weight quickly. However, many do not realize the powers green tea, specifically, matcha has when it comes to healthy and lasting weight loss. Specifically, matcha is known to boost an individual’s metabolism, which means they burn calories quicker, almost four times as fast according to some reports. Some research into green tea extract, which has the same nutrients as matcha, though in differing quantities, indicates when taken during moderate exercise, an individual burns roughly seventeen percent more fat in the same amount of time.

Promotes Relaxation

Matcha has been used for thousands of years in the Far East as an aid to relaxation. Many meditation practices incorporate matcha into their programs to help individuals achieve a more relaxed state of mind. The primary component of matcha that promotes relaxation is L-theanine, an amino acid found in large quantities in the matcha leaves. L-theanine works in the human body by increasing alpha waves. These brain waves serve many important and beneficial functions, one of them being inducing a state of relaxation. Unlike many prescription medications like anti-anxiety drugs, though, the L-theanine found in matcha promotes relaxation but does not compromise alertness. Reducing stress is crucial for preventing disease.

Boosts Mood

Three compounds in matcha, specifically a catechin compound called ECGC, caffeine, and L-theanine, have been proven to work together to improve mental states in those who drink the tea. The trio boosts mood by modulating brain activity to reduce stress, promote clearer thinking, and ease anxiety. Notably, matcha contains three times as much ECGC as traditional green tea, making it one of the most abundant natural sources of the polyphenol in the world. The complex of vitamins and minerals present in matcha boosts mood as well. Optimal cognitive function and depression are closely linked. Reduction of oxidative stress, another action of matcha, has been shown to alleviate symptoms of depression. Yet another mood-boosting activity of matcha is the prevention of adrenal fatigue.

Assists With Cognitive Function

Studies have shown remarkable mental benefits related to matcha. Researchers have demonstrated matcha assists with cognitive function by improving reaction time, memory, and attention span. Matcha contains more caffeine than green tea, which assists with cognitive function by increasing alertness. Caffeine stimulates the brain via its suppressive activity on adenosine, a neurotransmitter which is one of the brain’s primary natural sedation mechanisms. The beneficial polyphenol ECGC is shown to break down plaques in the brain that can impair function and ultimately lead to dementia. Furthermore, the L-theanine present in matcha balances the negative effects of caffeine like nervousness or ‘crashing,’ allowing a controlled longer-term cognitive boost.

Helps With Blood Sugar

Controlling blood sugar to avoid drastic spikes and drops is a good idea for everyone, regardless of their current health status. In the long run, avoiding massive swings in blood sugar can prevent diabetes, inflammation, and other conditions. Managing blood sugar responsibly is even more critical for individuals who already have developed diabetes. The large polyphenol content in matcha helps with blood sugar control in the body. Japanese researchers have shown drinking six cups of matcha daily helps with blood sugar and regular drinkers are significantly less likely to be diagnosed with diabetes compared to those who drink only a cup per week.

Reduces Oxidative Stress

In the modern world, oxidative stress is a major contributor to a wide array of inflammation-related diseases such as cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease. Poor diet, environmental pollution, and stress all contribute to increased oxidation in the body by free radicals. Research shows matcha significantly reduces oxidative stress markers characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease, making it a possible treatment for the debilitating condition. The high antioxidant content in matcha reduces oxidative stress by removing radical oxygen species that can damage DNA, proteins, and lipids inside the body. In one study, matcha was even shown to target cancer cells by starving them of oxygen.

DISCLAIMER: The Information on this website is for informational purposes only and not to be considered as medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any medical condition. Kreed Botanicals and its editors do not provide medical advice.

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