Food That Brings Us Joya: Matcha

A frothy green matcha latte in a mug with sprinkled matcha on top, on a green backdrop next to green leaves and a wooden spoon.
Go green or go home.

 

- Unknown

Matcha:

Antioxidant, Energy, Alertness, Calm, Metabolism, Detoxification

 

Of all the matcha puns and quotes that exist on the internet (and trust us, there are a plethora), our favourite might just be this: Matcha is a hug in a mug. Not only does it rhyme (yay!), but it’s an endearingly accurate description of this superfood. Matcha is a high-grade, finely ground, concentrated green tea that is traditionally used in tea ceremonies in Japan. It’s become much more widely available today and commonly found in the comforting form of a frothy latte.  
matcha in white coffee mug on wrinkled linen
(Photo by The First Mess)

Matcha is a bonafide superfood because of its high catechin content. Catechins are a type of antioxidant that are found in foods like green tea and berries, however the densest concentration of catechins are found in matcha. This makes matcha exceptionally powerful in promoting antioxidant activity like reducing cell damage from free radicals. 

One specific catechin compound found in matcha is known as EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). Test-tube and animal studies on this antioxidant have shown positive results in combating cancer, including decreasing tumor size and killing prostate cancer cells. Another large study of 69,710 Chinese women found that drinkers of green tea (from which matcha is concentrated) were at a 57% lower risk of colon and rectal cancers.  

chocolate cupcakes iced with matcha frosting and a spoon with matcha powder in foreground
(Photo by Heidi Richter)

One of the most popular health benefits of matcha is its brain-boosting capabilities. Matcha has been described as promoting an “alert calm.” It has a higher concentration of caffeine than green tea, with the added benefit of containing L-theanine (a relaxing amino acid). In other words, matcha has all the brain enhancing stimulants you want in the morning without the nerves and jitters. It’s a great alternative to coffee, hence all the cozy matcha lattes now available.

four stacked matcha cups chocolate and green
(Photo by Live Local)

How to enjoy

You can reap the full benefits of matcha as a tea by simply whisking it in water. A battery-powered handheld whisk will do the trick, yet there’s something more alluring — and surprisingly more effective! — about a traditional matcha whisk (aka chasen). Or get creative and play around with it! Try blending matcha into elixirs, lattes and smoothies, making creamy popsicles or ice cream, or adding it to baked goods!