The caffeine hit with a difference

The matcha green tea trend is booming. With fans including Gwyneth Paltrow, Daisy Lowe and Tinie Tempah it would seem that this traditional Japanese tea is high on the hit list for those seeking healthier caffeinated alternatives.

WHAT IS MATCHA?

Matcha is simply pure, green tea leaves that have been picked and ground into a very fine powder. Made from the youngest tea leaves, the stems and veins are removed giving it its bright green colour that is easily recognisable from other teas.

Because you’re drinking the whole leaf you get 100 per cent of the nutrients. A cup of matcha tea has 10 times the nutrients of a regular cup of green tea including potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, protein, calcium and fibre.

Originally drunk by Samurai warriors before going into battle, the ceremony of preparing match green tea is a highly respected tradition in Japan to this day. Fortunately for those of us with busy lifestyles, individual powder sachets and ready to drink cartons are available in most supermarkets.

HEALTHY MIND

Forget the copious cups of coffee to keep you going and instead opt for matcha green tea to keep your productivity levels up and hit those deadlines. Matcha has a kick that lasts longer than coffee, although it contains just half the caffeine of a cup of espresso.

Unlike coffee you can drink more than one cup of matcha a day and avoid the usual side effects of nervousness and the jitters. This is because of an amino acid called L-Theanine, which provides sustained energy to keep you alert and engaged throughout the day.

Nutritional therapist Jenna Farmer, explains: “The beauty of matcha is the ease of getting a super L-Theanine hit, supporting a naturally moderated energy boost without the anxiety and cravings of coffee and other stimulants. L-Theanine has been researched due to its capacity to ease mental stress whilst boosting cognition and mood.”

This benefit of L-Theanine comes from the increased production of dopamine and serotonin — two chemicals in the brain that play a part in making you feel happy. They also help improve your memory and concentration which is something many of us can benefit from.

BODY BENEFITS

With 130 times more antioxidants than goji berries, the benefits of a routine intake of matcha seem endless. From improving your cholesterol, heart health and strengthening your immune system, this concentrated green tea could help in many ways.

Regularly drinking matcha neutralises the effects of free-radicals by removing them from our blood stream, providing potent cancer fighting properties. Due to matcha containing so many vitamins and minerals it can boost natural immunity helping the body fight infections such as flu. A cup a day could keep the doctor away.

The vibrant green colour in matcha comes from chlorophyll, a naturally occurring pigment which just so happens to be a great detoxifier. Step up your intake to help cleanse your liver, relieve bloating and clear your skin.

With supermarkets like Tesco now stocking matcha green tea powder nationwide, the growing demand for matcha seems to be more than just another health fad.

HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CUP OF MATCHA TEA

James Shilcock, founder of Vivid Matcha green tea, explains his three top tips for making great matcha tea:
  1. Never pour boiling water on matcha green tea as it burns the leaves and creates a bitter taste.
  2. Be sure to remove all the lumps of matcha properly using a small whisk so your drink is smooth.
  3. Avoid using low grade matcha as it tastes very bitter. ‘Ceremonial grade’ has the best taste and mouth feel.

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