A version of this article was originally published on Pique Tea.
Matcha tea comes from the same plant that originates all green, white, and black teas: the camellia sinensis bush. The name “matcha” literally means “powdered tea.”
The process of turning tea leaves into a powder is not new. Matcha was the primary way to consume tea in China during the Tang Dynasty (600-900 AD).
In the 1100s, a huge transfer of knowledge and culture from China to Japan occurred, and that’s how matcha made its way across the ocean. Matcha and Zen Buddhism flourished together, and the two were often considered inseparable.
By the 1500s, matcha took hold as part of the formal Japanese tea ceremony, which celebrated stillness and simplicity. It grew in popularity in Japan, even as it lost its appeal in China.
How Is Matcha Tea Different?
We know tea may be the world’s healthiest beverage — and green tea seems to be the most healthful of all. But what makes matcha special?
The matcha process begins while the green tea leaves are still growing. The plants are shaded before harvesting to increase chlorophyll and amino acid content (particularly L-theanine) and to improve the appearance and flavor of the tea. This gives matcha its brilliant green color.
Once the leaves are harvested, steamed, dried, and blended, they are ground up into a fine powder that you mix into hot or cold water.
The result? You’re actually drinking the entire tea leaf! With traditional green tea, in comparison, you’re only drinking the dissolvable elements that the leaves infuse into the water.
So matcha can give you the health benefits of green tea, and then some! In fact, a cup of matchahas about three times the antioxidants of regular green tea.
What Does Matcha Tea Taste Like?
Most people find typical matcha teas have a strong, grassy flavor — similar to wheatgrass or even spinach.
But premium matcha teas have balanced flavors, with layers of unfolding creaminess, umami, fresh-cut grass, and roasted notes.
What Are the Health Benefits of Matcha Tea?
Why might you want to drink matcha?
Here are six science-backed benefits you may get from sipping matcha:
1. Matcha Supports Heart Health
Green tea catechins contribute to a healthy cardiovascular system. And matcha is the most potent type of green tea.
A 2001 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that the catechins from tea may reduce the risk of heart disease mortality.
And a 2009 study published in Stroke found that drinking three cups of green (or black) tea every day could prevent stroke.
There’s also a link between green tea and healthy cholesterol levels. A comprehensive analysis published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2011 concluded that green tea resulted in significant reductions in LDL cholesterol (the bad type of cholesterol).
Plus the powerful antioxidants found in green tea, especially EGCG, have shown to be helpful in maintaining healthy arteries.
2. Matcha Prevents Cell Damage
Studies have shown that drinking matcha regularly reduces the damage caused by free radicals.
This has anti-aging implications plus it’s excellent news for building a stronger immune system!
3. Matcha Supports Brain Health