The matcha tea is a type of tea powder obtained from grinding the leaves of green tea, formerly in a stone mill. The plant is previously covered before collecting the leaves, disproving them from stems and branches, drying them and crushing them. All this determines that characteristic intense green color and its antioxidant properties.
In conventional tea infusion, only water-soluble substances pass into the water. In matcha tea all the components of the leaf pass to the drink, the soluble part dissolved in the water and a part of the residue without dissolving.
The fashion of matcha tea
Those who want to be trendy, can get on the car of many celebrities and start drinking matcha tea as if there was no tomorrow. But although many do not know, it is a fad that dates back only a few millennia.
Indeed, the beginning of the tea culture began about 5,000 years ago in China. Legend has it that the process of cooking tea leaves in hot water was accidentally discovered by the 2nd emperor of China, Shen Nung, who was fond of botany and studied the properties of plants.
One day he was boiling water – surely not him, but his servants – to sterilize her in the courtyard of his palace, when due to the wind some leaves of the tree fell into the cooking pot (which coincidentally was a tea tree, Camellia sinensis).
The combination turned out to be refreshing and stimulating and gave rise to the tea that since then continued to be consumed.
It is a story that highlights that most customs are almost always casual, if not improbable — also the consumption of tea.
Much later, in the 8th century, green tea arrived in Japan. It is documented how the 45th emperor, Shomu, delivered green tea powder as a gift to Buddhist monks, which could be considered the first precedent of matcha tea.
Effects of tea on health
The benefits of tea on health, it is preventive and even therapeutic effects on various aspects of human health. There are multiple substances present in tea to which positive physiological effects are attributed.
Especially noteworthy are the catechins, substances with the antioxidant effect that have been related to various beneficial effects.
On the other hand, tea matcha obtained from dissolving powdered tea leaves in hot water contains – unlike tea infusion – a waste that includes other substances, such as the amino acid L-theanine.
Catechins are bioactive compounds found especially in tea leaves, either in infusion (as they are water soluble) or in tea powder that is used for matcha tea.
Catechins are a type of polyphenols, which are part of flavonoids and tannins, also present, for example, in wine.
Therefore, catechins are antioxidants that counteract free radicals that can damage DNA and adversely affect health. In this sense, the consumption of green tea has been related to antidiabetic, anti-obesity, hypocholesterolemic, anti-inflammatory, anticarcinogenic, probiotic and antimicrobial effects.
Some of these effects have been studied extensively in experiments in vitro and with animals, but they need to be ratified in humans.
Catechins appear in greater quantity in green tea due to their minimal processing.
Green tea (and black) in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases
Few long-term studies analyze the effects of tea in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
The limited evidence suggests that tea has a favorable impact on cardiovascular risk, but due to the small number of studies.
The results should be treated with caution while waiting for high quality and more extended studies to confirm it.
Green tea for the loss and maintenance of weight in adults
The green tea appears to induce a small weight loss in overweight and obese adults, but this loss cannot be classified as clinically relevant.
Green tea and cancer prevention
There is no consistent and reliable evidence to recommend the consumption of tea for the prevention of cancer.
L-theanine in matcha tea
L-theanine is an amino acid present in tea leaves (and therefore present in tea powder) which is attributed the romantic effect of causing a ‘calm alert,’ as opposed to the exciting effect of caffeine. This effect is referenced in the legends about tea and the Buddhist monks who consume it since ancient times.
Regarding the effect of theanine reflected in the scientific literature, several studies attribute neuroprotective effects, modulators of mood and relaxing.
Some of these studies indicate an improvement of symptoms related to anxiety in schizophrenic patients or improvements in sleep parameters in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
But more extensive studies with longer follow-up are needed to corroborate these preliminary results.
Toxic effects of matcha tea
Its content favors one of the toxic effects of excessive consumption of this type of tea in caffeine and catechins, which can triple the amounts present in a typical tea infusion.
On the other hand, another of the possible risks, directly linked to the conditions of the area where the tea is grown, is the presence of heavy metals, which in some cases may approach or exceed safety limits.
This is true for lead, but also for cadmium, chromium, copper, and nickel, among others, in teas from producing regions in China.
What Health2Wellness Blog suggests
Matcha tea is a variety of tea that is fashionable. Consuming it is not a problem, as long as you do it in reasonable quantities.
But do not expect benefits for health derived from their consumption, nor do you intend to “compensate” for derangements in your lifestyle based on their assumptions or inconsistent benefits.
The healthy lifestyle with a varied and balanced diet and regular physical activity is the best insurance for your health, which also fits-why not-a cup of matcha tea.