Matcha is a powder of ground green tea leaves and has its origins in Japan. In a tea made of this powdery essence, the ingredients to which green tea owes its healthy effect are many times more concentrated than in a normal tea infusion. Therefore, the green Matcha powder is considered a real superfood. And not only the nutrients are the more concentrated, but also the caffeine. That's why the tart-tasting Matcha tea is also popular as a drinker and is often referred to as "the espresso among the teas". We explain what is in the powder and give tips for preparation and purchase.
What is Matcha?
In Japanese, matcha (pronounced: mud) means "ground tea". In fact, for the production of the powder, the dried leaves of the green tea plant - usually the varieties Tencha or Gykuro - are milled without ribs and stalks in stone mills. Characteristic of the powder and the tea is the bright green color.
Matcha matures after production, so the taste may change in the first few months. Matcha tea tastes aromatic, tart, intense and creamy - sometimes grassy, nutty, sweetish or fruity. Bitter or sour taste, on the other hand, is a sign of poor quality.
Tea that awakens
Matcha is considered as a wake-up agent and concentration-promoting, because the powder contains the invigorating caffeine, or Teein - chemically, this is the same substance. In contrast to caffeine, however, teein is only released in the intestine and therefore acts later, milder and longer-lasting. This makes Matcha compared to an espresso as clearly compatible.
The reason for the delayed release of caffeine is the tannin tannin contained in Matcha and the amino acid L-theanine, which bind in the tea water to the caffeine, so that it can be effective only in the intestine. Tannins also relieve gastrointestinal complaints. Theanin, on the other hand, cheerfully relaxes at the same time. Unlike coffee, too much green tea does not make you uneasy or unfocused.
Matcha: effect and ingredients
Matcha is said to protect against various diseases such as cancer or diabetes. Although the positive effect of superfood is certainly often exaggerated, Matcha tea - just like green tea in general - can certainly be described as healthy. In addition to caffeine, tannin and theanine, there are other ingredients in Matcha with a health-promoting effect:
- Potassium, calcium and iron: These minerals and trace elements are important for nerves, muscles and bones as well as the transport of oxygen in the blood.
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3 (niacin), beta-carotene (vitamin A), vitamins E and K, and vitamin C: these vitamins strengthen the immune system, heart, nerves, skin and eyes, among other things.
- Chlorophyll: The phytochemical has a positive effect on the intestinal activity and should help against bad breath.
- Proteins and their building blocks, the essential amino acids: These donate energy and are central to the metabolism in the body.
- Flavonols: These are phytochemicals from the group of flavonoids, which fight harmful free radicals as antioxidants. They can inhibit the growth of certain cancer cells and prevent diseases caused by oxidative stress.
Catechins in matcha tea
Matcha contains a high proportion of healthy catechins. The most well-known of these, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), is contained in particularly large quantities. It has anti-inflammatory, cancer preventive effects and can help to slow down the growth of tumors.
Catechins act as antioxidants, protect the skin from UV rays and cell aging, and lower the level of LDL cholesterol. In addition, they prevent the formation of plaque on the vessel walls, the trigger of arteriosclerosis. Studies even suggest that catechins can help prevent Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. They are also considered good for gastrointestinal infections, colds and flu.
Losing weight with Matcha tea?
Matcha tea is not only a wax, but also a slimming agent. Drinked daily, catechins in tea reduce blood sugar levels after a meal and promote fat burning.
In addition, the almost calorie-free tea stimulates the digestion and slows down the cravings for sweets. A study from the US actually showed that Matcha can support weight loss.
Recipe for the traditional preparation
In the traditional Japanese tea ceremony Matcha powder is made into a special bowl of hot water and a small bamboo brush - also called chasen - to make a tea. For the preparation of Matcha tea in the slightly thinner "standard version" (Usucha), proceed as follows:
- Boil as soft water as possible and let it cool to 70 to 80 ° C.
- Add one to two grams of matcha powder (equivalent to half to one teaspoon or one to two bamboo spatula) through a sieve so it does not clump.
- Meanwhile, warm the bamboo broom in warm water for a few minutes.
- Pour the powder in the bowl with about 80 milliliters of hot water.
- Beat the mixture gently with the bamboo brush so that the tea becomes creamy and foam forms on the surface.
Professionals move the broom quickly and easily from the wrist - not in a circle, but in a W-shape.
From Matcha Ice to Matcha Latte
Matcha powder is not only drunk as a tea, but also mixed cold in cereals, shakes, lemonade, cocktails or smoothies. Even when baking and cooking or making ice cream Matcha is used, so you can find plenty of recipes for green cakes, desserts and salad dressings.
Unlike its green color, however, Matcha powder does not retain its healthy properties in all processed foods. For example, the protein in milk and dairy products inhibits the uptake of catechins, including EGCG. If you like to drink "Matcha Latte" (the green equivalent of latte macchiato), you should better resort to herbal alternatives such as unsweetened almond milk.
In addition, some ingredients are sensitive to heat and should not be heated above 30 ° C - so it is worthwhile, in addition to Matcha tea occasionally drink a cold smoothie with the powder.
6 tips to buy Matcha
Who wants to buy Matcha powder should look carefully, because Matcha is offered in different quality levels. The price for a 30 gram tin can be between 15 and 50 euros.
The best products come from Japan, but in German shops there are often matcha powders from China or stretched products of inferior quality. The following tips will help you choose the right product:
- The Japanese region of Uji (Kyoto) is known for its quality, from the regions of Nishio (Aichi) and Kagoshima Matcha comes with good value for money.
- For beginners, variants of medium price range are suitable, which nevertheless taste good and are no less healthy.
- Poor quality matcha powders have a pale yellowish or brownish color and taste bitter or sour.
- Matcha from China often tastes much more bitter and strong - but it is nevertheless suitable for cooking and baking.
- The powder should be free of additives and sugar.
- Whether organic matcha is better or not, can not say clearly. On the one hand, the eco-label excludes contamination with pesticides. On the other hand, the powder in traditional top quality usually does not come from organic farming.
In some online shops and health food stores you can also find the similar product Micro Cha. In contrast to Matcha, the stems and veins of the green tea leaves are used in the production of this powder.
Shelf life and storage
Matcha should be bought and processed as fresh as possible. If you take Matcha less often, you should buy smaller packs. After breaking, Matcha retains its freshness for about three to four weeks.
Matcha powder should always be airtight, protected from light and stored in the refrigerator. Just a few hours of sunlight or temperatures over 25 ° C can affect the effect.
Even larger temperature fluctuations should be avoided - so it is best to take the powder out of the fridge for only a short time. Unopened, the package can be stored in the freezer, but should then be left in the fridge for a while before opening.
Side effects of matcha
High-quality Matcha, which is free from harmful substances, has few side effects as long as it is consumed in moderation. Because one should not forget that Matcha contains much caffeine. An overdose of caffeine can cause side effects such as headache, dizziness, diarrhea or heartburn.
It should also be noted that matcha has a lot of oxalic acid. This prevents the absorption of substances such as calcium, magnesium or iron in the intestine. Therefore, it is recommended to wait between the enjoyment of Matcha and the meal for an hour. In addition, oxalic acid can promote the formation of kidney stones, especially if there is a chronic intestinal disease.
As the tannins in green tea stimulate gastric acid production, it is better not to drink the tea on an empty stomach. Otherwise it can lead to constipation, stomach pain or nausea.
Matcha in pregnancy
During pregnancy, caffeine consumption should be restricted. Even before the intake of catechins is often warned. Therefore, pregnant women should not drink more than a cup of Matcha tea a day.