There are four types of tea—white, green, Oolong, and black—all derived from the Camellia sinensis shrub. What distinguishes each type of tea is the amount of time the leaves are exposed to oxygen after harvest. Black tea is allowed to fully oxidize (exposed to air) after harvest, while green tea leaves are harvested at an early age and heated to ensure minimal oxidation, allowing them to obtain their characteristic bright green color.
Matcha is a finely ground powder made from a special type of green tea leaf. When growing matcha, the tea leaves are shade-grown for three to four weeks before harvest. The stems and veins are then removed during processing. This process is more time-consuming (and more expensive) than producing regular green tea. Matcha is also much stronger than regular green tea because you consume the entire leaf in powder form rather than just the steeped hot water.
By eating the entire leaf, you gain more health benefits than you do when drinking steeped green tea. It is rich in antioxidants, especially the powerful disease-fighting polyphenols called catechins. Consuming these antioxidants regularly is linked with a host of health benefits:
- prevention of heart disease
- protection against cancer
- improved cognitive function
- prevention of liver disease. (One caveat, beware of taking matcha supplements, which have been linked with possibly causing liver damage.)
- prevention of type 2 diabetes
- weight loss. Matcha is higher in caffeine and the amino acid threonine than regular green tea—which contributes to its superior
Matcha can be consumed in endless ways, such as hot tea, added to baked goods, lattes, smoothies, ice cream, soups, salads, and even hummus. Matcha powder can be found at most grocery stores and online. Make sure you buy pure matcha powder from Japan, without added ingredients such as sugar. Once you open the container, store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain freshness.
Dr. Janet’s Matcha Chia Seed Pudding
- 2 tsp. matcha green tea powder
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk
- ¼ cup chia seeds
- ½ tablespoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup fresh raspberries
- 1 tablespoon sliced almonds
In a large bowl, combine the matcha green tea powder with the soy milk. Whisk until smooth. Add the chia seeds and maple syrup. Stir to combine, cover, and place in the refrigerator for two hours. Top with fresh berries and almond slices.
Yield: 2 servings
Nutrition per serving (3/4 cup):
Calories: 220; Fat 13 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 125 mg; Carbohydrate 20 g; Fiber 12 g; Protein 12 g.