The Tang Dynasty in China seems to have been the first to produce powdered green tea, somewhere between 618 A.D and 907 A.D. ,according to historic accounts. It was introduced to Japan in 1191, where the Zen monasteries adopted it and used it as a part of their religious ritual. It became a favorite of the upper classes in Japan during the fourteenth to sixteenth centuries.
The use of matcha in Japan is still very steeped in ritual. In order for matcha to be used in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, it must reach a high grade of quality, and it must be prepared and served in a specific way. Matcha is thus used in many ways that go far beyond its potential as a health ingredient.
The Development Of Matcha Tea
The health effects of matcha tea are a direct result of the way that this plant is grown and cultivated. Tea bushes are carefully covered as they grow to insure that they will not be exposed to direct sunlight. This encourages the development of chlorophyll in the leaves. Chlorophyll is what gives matcha its vibrant green color. During the slow growth process desirable amino acids are produced.
Young, tender leaves of the plant are then chosen for their excellent quality and picked, and the veins and stems are removed. Once this is done, the leaves are meticulously dried and ground to a powder. Even the grinding is done with extreme care, since the taste and aroma of the powder can be altered if the grinding stones become too hot.
Matcha that is produced with such care has a sweet taste and contains many vital health-giving properties that are great for the human body. Consider this the next time you are enjoying your favorite cup of matcha latte.
What Are The Real Health Benefits Of Matcha?
Although matcha has been in use for years, scientists are only now beginning to discover its full benefits for the human body. Daily it seems as if more health benefits are being found. One of the biggest is that matcha green tea contains a high amount of catechin polyphenols, which are antioxidants.
Antioxidants, as many people now know, are the substances that help to protect against many types of cancer, reduce harmful cholesterol and help to stabilize blood sugar. They also prevent heart disease and are reputed to help slow down the aging process.
It is a fair question to ask what studies have been done by what authority sources specifically about the use of green tea.
The National Cancer Institute has conducted studies on the effects of green tea on tumors. They concluded that the polyphenols in green tea reduce the size of tumors in animal studies and may also protect against the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation.
The Journal of the American Medical Association reported the results of a study in 2006 that concluded the consumption of green tea has a positive effect on cardiovascular disease.
In 2013 the American Heart Association concluded that higher consumption of green tea could reduce the risk of stroke.
Studies done at the University of Michigan in 2013 and the University of Missouri suggest that the use of green tea could help in the reduction of the incidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Several other studies are currently underway on the advantages of green tea that look very promising. In addition, actual users of green tea are heralding its benefits as a way of accelerating weight loss. There seems to be no doubt that matcha will become a regular part of the average person’s diet in the near future.
How To Get The Most Health Benefits From Matcha
Where you buy your matcha green tea does make a difference. The highest grade of matcha green tea is ceremonial grade. Next in line is the culinary grade, which is often used in cooking. Unfortunately, it may be difficult for consumers to tell whether a package of matcha is high grade or not.
There are a few general guidelines that can help you to judge the quality of the tea you buy. First, observe the color and texture. Texture should be creamy and the color should be vibrant green. High quality matcha usually has a sweeter taste than lower quality. Matcha produced in Japan is often of higher quality, so look for indicators of country of origin on the package.
As with any other products you buy, you may also want to judge the reputation of the company that sells it. Factor in whether or not the product is listed as organic or contains additional unnecessary or unhealthy ingredients, such as added sugars. Look for average prices of matcha, instead of buying the one that is least expensive.
Because of its powdery form, matcha can be prepared in several interesting ways, making it a very tasty and healthy addition to your diet.