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I absolutely love drinking matcha. Not only is it extremely delicious and versatile, it also contains many health benefits. Matcha is a type Japanese green tea in which the tea leaves are finely grounded into powder. Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is predominantly found in green tea and since drinking matcha means that you consume the tea leaves too, matcha is a very good source of EGCG. In fact, it contains more ECGC than regular green tea.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea that is made from green tea leaves that are grown in the shade. The shade helps slow down growth while also increases the chlorophyll levels of the tea leaves. This in turn leads to an increase in the production of amino acids. After harvest, they are dried out and grinded into fine powder.
Matcha is separated into different grades of quality. Ceremonial grade matcha is considered to be the highest grade of matcha. It is often used in the Japanese tea ceremony and most matcha drinkers would most likely only drink ceremonial grade matcha straight with just water.
If you have never drank matcha before, you might be a little surprised by the taste. To put it simply, matcha tastes a little like a rich earthy tea. It has a nice grassy yet sweet taste and a bitter undertone. I absolutely love the bitter undertones of matcha, it is not like coffee, where the bitterness is up front. Instead, matcha’s bitterness is more of a deep earthy style.
Caffeine wise, matcha contains more caffeine than the normal green tea but less than a cup of coffee. On average, there is around 70mg of caffeine in a cup of matcha tea. The caffeine levels really depend on how much matcha powder you are putting into your drink. You can always use more or less scoops to cater to your caffeine needs. In addition, compared to coffee where it gives you an instant boost of energy, the caffeine in matcha comes at a slower pace. This means that it will increase your energy levels slower but give you a longer boost in energy. In addition, you are less likely to have the crash you get when you drink coffee.
When looking to buy for matcha, always make sure you check the ingredients list. I would suggest you buy matcha powder that only contains matcha. There are a lot of matcha powders that can be a little deceptive. You should especially watch out for the ones with added sugar. In some brands, the matcha powder with added sugar could total to about 50% of the actual product. This means you will be drinking a lot of sugar. If you do not think you can drink matcha straight, you can always buy plain matcha and add in the amount of sugar necessary for you.
What is epigallocatechin gallate?
Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) is a plant based compound of catechin. It is considered to be high in antioxidants and therefore it can help protect your cells against free radicals. When your body has too much free radicals, it can cause damage to your cells and therefore eating food that are high in antioxidants will decrease the damage from free radicals.
Matcha and EGCG
EGCG is known to be found in green tea. Studies have found that an average cup of green tea provides you around 25 to 86 mg of EGCG. Whereas, a cup of matcha is able to provide you about 17 to 109 mg of EGCG. Drinking matcha will provide you with more catechin per cup than just regular brewed green tea.
Considering that green tea is considered to be one of the highest EGCG providing food, matcha is certainly a very good source of epigallocatechin gallate. In fact, I would consider matcha to be the best source of EGCG.
This is because when you drink matcha, you are consuming the whole tea leaves. The whole tea leaves contain more EGCG than just drinking tea from tea bags. One study found that matcha is able to contain up to 10 times more EGCG than regular green tea.
EGCG is an antioxidant that helps protect your cells from free radicals. When your body has too much free radicals, it will oxidise and cause oxidative stress. If you have too much oxidative stress, it can cause chronic inflammation in your body. In addition, when oxidative stress trigger an inflammatory response, it then produces more free radicals and that could also lead to more oxidative stress.
Inflammation can also be problematic as it is associated to many major health issues such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and arthritis. EGCG has the ability to help suppress the free radicals from causing an inflammatory response.
Although research is still in an early phase, there has been studies suggesting that EGCG in matcha can help improve your neurological cell function and even prevent some brain diseases. Studies show that EGCG might be therapeutic for those who have brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. The antioxidant effect might be able to decrease the oxidation in your brain and even speed up regeneration of your neural cells.
When EGCG is taken with caffeine, studies have noted that there seems to be a weight loss effect. Both of these substances are found in matcha and therefore drinking matcha might help with your weight loss goals. In fact, EGCG and caffeine have a synergising effect on weight loss.
Although minimal, studies have shown that those who drink matcha are able to break down more fat cells, increase fat burning and boost your metabolic rate. It would require you to drink around 6 to 10 cups of matcha a day to achieve a modest increase in fat burning. Although the results might be modest, every little bit eventually will add up. Drinking matcha might be a good thing to incorporate into your weight loss goals to work in combination with your diet and exercise.
I drink matcha almost every day. This is because I love the taste of matcha and it is so versatile. Most of the time, I would be drinking it straight with hot water. Sometimes, I would mix it in milk to make a matcha latte or even make a protein smoothie with two scoops of matcha.
When you drink matcha, you receive much more epigallocatechin gallate because it is more concentrated due to it being made from the entire leaf. If you do not want to drink matcha for the EGCG benefits, you can always take a green tea extract. However, I would consult with your doctor before taking green tea extracts as it might interact with certain medications.