Nothing lights up the senses quite like a fragrant cup of hot tea. The slightly toasty scent of tealeaves, the warm steam swirling off the surface of the liquid, the soothing feel of the cup between your palms… these are classic comforts. A far East tradition, people all across the globe have found that they can lose weight with Matcha green tea and so much more with just one cup a day!
- 2 teaspoons Ujido matcha green tea
- 1 teaspoon maca powder
- 1 teaspoon cacao powder
- 1/10 teaspoon stevia powder
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- 16 oz. hot water
- Blend in Vitamix and voila!
This why I am so grateful to my friends at Ujido, who have graciously shared with us their beautiful eBook Matcha For Mind & Body, which is where I got the information for this article.
They are also blessing us in a big way by giving every DrEricZ.com reader a special coupon – just type in MATCHA20 when you're checking out to enjoy 20% on me. 😉
As you chase after the Abundant Life, remember stimulants and caffeine like coffee can be helpful, but be cautious of overdoing it. Too much of a good thing, is still too much.
In recent years, matcha love has caught on hard in the United States and other Western countries (it was already popular in Eastern parts of the world). And there is a very good reason that matcha is taking the world by storm. A pure, carefully sourced powder made from only the best parts of specially cultivated green tealeaves, Matcha is both a health-boosting superfood and a tasty, energizing alternative to other morning drinks with that same caffeine kick you crave without the nasty side effects.
Plus it is really quite easy to prepare once you get the hang of it. In fact its preparation is half the fun! Centuries-old tradition ties matcha to meditation, Zen Buddhism and a calm preparation ceremony that aids concentration, calm yet alert focus, and sustained productivity.
Buddhists monks relied on matcha to sustain them through hours of silent and still meditation. Others use it to power through their work day with some added pep in their step sans any jitters or crash. You'll likely find your own sweet spot with matcha. It's that versatile. And we're going to help you on your journey to discovering matcha for yourself in this guide.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of the Japanese Green Tea, and although you may not have much familiarity with matcha itself, you've certainly seen the results of its ancient favor. Any time you witness a Japanese tea ceremony in a traditional home or teahouse, you're observing customs that were developed and fine-tuned largely around matcha.
If you've ever heard of Zen Buddhism you've also encountered matcha, perhaps incognito. Because when Zen Buddhism was first birthed in Japan, its creator brought with his philosophy unique tea seeds he and his monks used to aid them in meditation and spiritual growth.
The Matcha Legend
Over 800 years ago a young Buddhist priest by the name of Myoan Eisai left his native Japan on a spiritual journey for greater awareness and knowledge. Eisai returned to Japan with a new found philosophy called “Chan” and some unique tea seeds. Using the Chan philosophy Myoan Eisai created the Rinzai School of Zen Buddhism in Japan and became “Zen Master Eisai.”
The special tea seeds were given to a learned Buddhist priest named Myoe Shonin to plant on the grounds of a temple near Kyoto. These special tea leaves made a green tea powder called “matcha.” The Buddhist monks found that matcha had exceptional health and spiritual qualities and used this tea to increase focus and chi energy for Zen Meditation.
The Birth of Matcha
So how did Zen Master Eisai come across this unique matcha tea, prepared so differently from normal teas?
No one quite knows how the preparation and consumption of matcha was first discovered. However we do know the recipe for preparing dried tea in this manner was developed in China during the Song Dynasty, in roughly the 10th or 11th century.
Tea growers picked fresh leaves from the tea plant (Camellia sinensis, a type of evergreen shrub). They then steamed the leaves to stop fermentation, keep their color bright, and maintain their fresh flavor, then dried them and ground them into a fine powder. This powder was placed in molds, left to harden, dried in the sun, and baked. The end product was a durable, long-lasting cake that wouldn't rot and could be carried around. Whenever the cake's owner wanted a cup of tea, all they had to do was break off a piece of the cake and add water.
This practice was largely abandoned in China sometime after its development, however. Fortunately, it was later picked up by the traveling Esai and brought to Japan, where this ceremonious method of preparing tea was picked up and elevated to an art form.
Today, Tea is grown in various ways. At its essence, matcha tea is the purest and most nutritionally dense form of the tea plant Camellia sinensis, the evergreen tree plant that all basic teas come from. What determines whether a tea is green, yellow, black, white, or blue is the level of oxidation that has occurred due to fermentation.
Green teas are non-fermented, retaining their flush green color as well as their nutritional profile. Matcha tea in particular is shaded for several weeks during the last stage of cultivation, protecting the tea leaves from direct sunlight.
That way, matcha remains palatable due to the development of theanine, a mellow flavor stemming from amino acids. Teas grown and cultivated in full sun, on the other hand, develop catechins, which add an astringent flavor to the tea. Growing the leaves in shade also increases their chlorophyll content, giving them the bright green color and richly delicious taste matcha drinkers love.
Is Matcha a “Super Food?
The leaves of the Camellia sinensis plants – and more specifically the matcha that is made from them – possesses all sorts of proven benefits, including regulating blood flow in the body and brain, reducing the risk of various health problems, and preventing cell damage due to their powerful antioxidant properties.
The first amazing benefit of Matcha is its extremely high antioxidant level, for which all health- conscious people seek from foods such as raw fruits, and green veggies – the highest rated by the ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) method.
In fact, the ORAC value for Ujido Matcha has roughly 31 percent higher antioxidant levels than açai berries. Its levels are also 6 times greater than dark chocolate, 14 times higher than blueberries, 28 times higher than pomegranate, and 40 times higher than goji berries.
Why do antioxidants matter? Because they help you stay young, fighting free radicals in the body and preventing the unravelling of your DNA that many scientists believe is responsible for old age. They also keep you healthy, fit, and alert, so it's a good idea to pack as many antioxidant- containing foods and drinks into your diet as you can.
Enjoy Anticancer Properties
David Servan-Schriber, who famously lived for 17 years with a brain tumor and wrote the book Anticancer: A New Way of Life, explains that consuming green tea can both prevent relapses and reduce risk of cancer:
“Concerning green tea, we can for example look at two studies. In one, Japanese women already diagnosed with breast cancer, whose disease was still at an early stage (non-metastasized) and who consumed at least three cups of green tea a day, had 57% fewer relapses than women who drank one cup or less per day (Inoue et al., 2001). Another Japanese study, Japan being the country where studying consumption of green tea is easiest, showed that men with prostate cancer notably benefited from the consumption of FIVE or more cups of tea a day. This reduced by 50% the risk that their prostate cancer would progress to an advanced stage. (Kurahashi et al., 2007)”
Green tea is so effective, in fact, that it has been said to replace pharmaceutical cancer treatments designed to block the receptor that allows cancer cells to invade nearby healthy cells.
“As Dr. Béliveau has written in the Lancet (2004),” Dr. Servan-Schrieber says, “the quantity of green tea polyphenols obtained by a daily consumption of just three cups (size 4 oz or 120 ml – the standard European cup size) is sufficient to block most activity by the VEGF receptor. This receptor allows cancer cells to invade neighboring tissue, and also stimulates the manufacture of new blood vessels which they need in order to develop as dangerous tumors. Many of the famous ‘targeted cancer treatments' developed by the pharmaceutical industry also concentrate on blocking this receptor by other biochemical processes.”
While the studies he used to create these statistics did use green tea as their subject (rather than matcha, the powdered form), matcha still has very high levels of polyphenols, which are instrumental in blocking cancer growth. So it is safe to assume that a daily routine of matcha consumption would be protective – and the more matcha you drank, the more cancer protection you would receive.
Boost Heart Health
Harvard Health reports “A study of 40,530 Japanese adults found that participants who drank more than five cups of green tea a day had a 26% lower risk of death from heart attack or stroke and a 16% lower risk of death from all causes than people who drank less than one cup of green tea a day.”
They hypothesize that most likely these benefits stem from the fact that green tea lowers “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are correlated with heart disease and stroke.
Lose Weight with Matcha Green Tea
Green tea has also been associated with weight loss. For one thing, it can help you regulate your appetite and reduce mindless snacking, explains Shape. The catechins may “help to inhibit the movement of glucose into fat cells, which slows the rise of blood sugar and prevents high insulin and subsequent fat storage.” When your blood sugar remains stable, you're less likely to give in to cravings.
Moreover, the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate, more commonly known as ECGC, can help boost metabolism, making it more likely that you'll tone up and slim down, especially if you are also exercising and eating a healthy diet at the same time. Note these benefits accrue to the green tea itself, not the green tea flavor … avoid sugary green tea snacks and anything made with extract or fake flavoring. People have found that they can lose weight with Matcha green tea with just one cup a day!
Consume the Whole Leaf
Because matcha is made from whole leaves that have been finely ground, you are actually ingesting the entire leaf. This means you're getting more nutrients than if you simply steeped the leaves – as you do with regular tea – before discarding the leaves. Therefore matcha may provide even more health benefits than regular tea. And while the levels of catechins in matcha are lower than
in traditional green tea due to the shading of leaves, they are still there in abundance. Plus, levels of other nutrients are higher, such as l-theanine, which produces a relaxed alertness (unlike the sometimes-jittery buzz of coffee).
Unlike some other supposed health foods, matcha and green tea are safe for practically everyone. Note that this is not the same as green tea supplements, which contain higher doses of all the substances in green tea, and may not be safe for “pregnant or breastfeeding women, those with heart problems or high blood pressure, kidney or liver problems, stomach ulcers, or anxiety disorders,” explains Medical News Today.
Avoid Supplements … Go Old-School
The article adds that supplements “contain high levels of active substances that can trigger side effects and interact with other herbs, supplements, or medications. Green tea supplements are unregulated by the FDA and may also contain other substances unsafe for health or with unproven health benefits.”
Given this, it's always important to ingest such foods in their proven form, i.e. the method by which tea has been prepared for almost a thousand years in the case of matcha (and 5,000 in the case of tea in general). Of course, that doesn't mean that all matcha green tea is the same; how it's prepared and where you buy it from still matters quite a bit.
To try matcha green tea out for yourself, visit Ujido's store HERE.