Matcha, like other green teas, contains a class of antioxidants called catechins. Matcha is high in a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which is believed to have cancer-fighting effects on the body. Studies have linked green tea to a variety of health benefits, like helping to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer, and even encouraging weight loss. However, it’s important to note that much of this research isn’t from clinical trials that show green tea causes a benefit. Instead, it’s largely from population-based studies, where researchers look at groups of people who drink green tea and compare their health outcomes to groups that don’t drink it. Studies have shown associations between tea and better health, but causation is not yet proven. Matcha is even less studied than brewed green tea.
We’re wary of any trend that involves detoxing with just a drink. By now, we’re all pretty aware that liquid diets can’t sustain our active bodies for very long, and most of the drinks celebrities swear by have little actual detoxifying effects. But a teatox, or tea detox or tea cleanse, is a gentler approach to the whole idea, namely because it involves adding a few herbal cups to your existing, healthy diet—instead of replacing meals entirely.
In 2009, King’s College researchers found that epicatechin may protect brain cells through mechanisms unrelated to its antioxidant ability, as epicatechin is one of the few flavonoids that can cross the blood-brain barrier. The King’s College researchers reported that somehow epicatechin protects brain cells from the negative effects of beta-amyloid plaques, although the exact mechanism of how this works is still not entirely know. (9)
This is yet another powerful benefit of green tea. Astringent substances trigger contractions in muscles and tissues while toning up muscles and skin. Even if you do not wish to drink green tea, a simple, daily mouthwash with it can cause sufficient contraction in your gums to keep them firm and tight on the teeth, thus preventing loosening and loss of teeth. You can also wash your hair with green tea and feel it grow stronger and healthier every day.
Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. While seemingly unimaginable, that’s exactly what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a fraction of green teas benefits. The majority actually remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. In reality, the only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But that doesn’t mean you need to start eating tea leaves. The simplest solution is to just enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is straight, stoneground tea leaves, matcha provides you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.
"Drink tea if you enjoy it, in moderation, and not because you're taking it as a medicine," says Dr. Sesso. Stirring in a little sugar is fine, but if you add a few heaping teaspoons of sugar, you're probably canceling out tea's possible benefits, he notes. And beware of the sugar found in many bottled teas, some of which contain as much as nine teaspoons of sugar per serving—almost as much as colas and other soft drinks. Check bottled tea labels and choose only pure, unadulterated tea—or save money and brew your own at home.
On this episode of Consumed, host and Eater Drinks editor Kat Odell looks into the matcha production process — how it differs from that of more traditional steeped green tea, and how two of New York's noted matcha purveyors (Ippodo Tea Company and Matchabar) are working with the product today. Watch the video above for a lesson in powdered green tea; if your interest is piqued, check this map for the best places to drink matcha across the country, and these recipes for making iced matcha drinks at home, perfect for the summer.