Matcha for Immunity and Health

Matcha tea is gaining popularity throughout the world in recent years and is frequently referred to as a mood-and-brain food. Various research has demonstrated that three constituents present in matcha tea, l-theanine, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and caffeine, affect mood and cognitive performance positively.

Matcha and regular green tea both come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is native to China. However, matcha is grown differently than regular green tea. The tea bushes are shielded from sunlight for about 20–30 days before harvest. The shade triggers an increase in chlorophyll levels, which turns the leaves a darker shade of green and increases the production of amino acids. After harvesting, the stems and veins are removed from the leaves. They are then stone-ground into a fine, bright green powder known as matcha. Because the whole leaf powder is ingested, matcha is even higher in some substances than green tea.

Packed with Antioxidants

Matcha is rich in the antioxidant catechins, a plant compound found in tea. In fact, matcha has one of the highest amounts of antioxidants among superfoods according to the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorption Capacity) test. This makes matcha great at fighting free radicals, preventing cancer (Hiroto et al, 2018), and protecting the heart (Pon, Anandh&Dongmin, 2009).

Dietary antioxidants counteract free radicals in your body, protecting cells and tissues from damage. Its most powerful catechin is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been studied extensively. It may fight inflammation in your body, help maintain healthy arteries, and promote cell repair (Wolfram, 2007). What’s more, whole-leaf teas contain more antioxidants than tea bags or ready-to-drink products. One study found that matcha contains up to 137 times more antioxidants than a low-grade variety of green tea and up to 3 times more antioxidants than other high-quality teas (Weiss and Anderton, 2003).

Boosts Relaxation and Alertness

Sipping matcha daily can have a positive impact on your energy levels and overall health. Unlike coffee, matcha provides a less jittery pick-me-up. This is due to matcha’s high concentration of flavonoids and L-theanine, which increases the brain’s alpha frequency band and produces relaxing effects by raising serotonin, GABA, and dopamine levels.

Research suggests that L-theanine is especially helpful for high levels of stress and anxiety, increasing relaxation without causing drowsiness. These effects have even been found at doses given in a cup of tea. In addition, L-theanine does some amazing things when paired with caffeine, à la matcha — the amino acid can help improve cognitive function and increase focus and alertness. So sipping matcha is great before a hectic work day or when cramming for a test.

In fact, matcha boasts much higher levels of L-theanine than other types of green tea. L-theanine may increase alpha waves in your brain. These waves are linked to mental relaxation and may help fight stress signals (Camfield et al 2014). L-theanine also modifies the effects of caffeine in your body, increasing alertness without causing the drowsiness that often follows coffee consumption. Thus, matcha tea may provide a milder and longer-lasting buzz than coffee.

L-theanine can also increase the number of feel-good chemicals in your brain, leading to improved mood, memory, and concentration (Nathan et al 2006). Furthermore, studies indicate that powdered green tea may improve brain function and reduce age-related mental decline in older adults (Ide et al 2014).

One cup (237 ml) of standard matcha, made from 4 teaspoons of powder, generally packs about 280 mg of caffeine. This is significantly higher than a cup (237 ml) of regular green tea, which provides 35 mg of caffeine. However, most people don’t drink a full cup (237 ml) of matcha at once because of its high caffeine content. It’s more common to drink 2–4 ounces (59–118 ml). Caffeine content also varies based on how much powder you add. Matcha powder is also popular in smoothies and baking.

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