The weather may be hotting up, but here at Barefaced we’re still sippin’ on tea. Matcha tea that is. Yes, it’s a bit of a trend but the benefits are real – and now available in handy tea bags from the lovely people at Pukka Herbs, it’s easer than ever to reap them!
Matcha tea is a type of green tea in a powdered form. It originates from Japan, where it’s best known for its use in tea ceremonies.
Matcha, other green teas and regular (black) tea are actually made from the same plant – Camellia sinensis. Most green teas are simply made by steaming fresh Camellia leaves. Making matcha tea involves a more complex process. It’s made only from the fresh leaf tips. The plants are shaded from the sun between the time when the new leaf shoots start to appear and when theyare picked. The shade is said to increase the content of chlorophyll and other nutrients, including the amino acid L-theanine (more on L-theanine below). After picking the best leaves, they’re steamed, gently air-dried, and then ground into a fine powder, removing any fibres. What’s so magical about green tea… and matcha?
- The primary health-boosting quality of green tea is undoubtedly its content of antioxidants. These include a type of flavonols called catechins, of which the most abundant is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Catechins have been found to have anti-inflammatory activity , anti-cancer and anti-aging properties , amongst others.
- A study carried out on teas bought from supermarkets in the UK found that you could get up to 400mg of catechins by drinking three cups of green tea, but less than 100mg from regular or black tea . However, matcha trumps them all!
- A study carried out at the University of Colorado found that the content of the catechin EGCG available in a cup of matcha can be over 100 times greater than that found in a standard China green tea. 
Improving metabolism and supporting weight loss
- In a study carried out with 35 obese men and women, it was found that those who drank four cups of green tea daily for two months lost significantly more weight than those who consumed a placebo .
- And in another trial on 10 men, it was found that when the men consumed green tea extract in the morning they had a 4% higher energy expenditure over 24 hours (i.e. they burned 4% more calories) than when consuming a placebo.
- When the men took caffeine only (the same amount as found in the green tea), this had no effect, indicating that it’s not just the caffeine at work. 
- Green tea may support weight loss in several ways: increasing thermogenesis (calorie burning), increasing fat oxidation (burning of fat for energy), reducing fat absorption, and even reducing appetite! [6, 8, 9]
Feeling stressed? Swap your coffee for green tea
- Green tea does contain some caffeine, but less than coffee. But the primary reason that tea is a better choice when we’re stressed is thanks to its content of a natural substance called L-theanine, which is virtually unique to the tea plant. L-theanine has been found to have a relaxing effect on the mind, reduce anxiety, and help with focus and concentration. It’s thought to do this by increasing alpha waves in the brain, which are associated with being ‘calm but alert’ – i.e. increasing relaxation without causing drowsiness [10, 11].
- Matcha green tea in particular is said to have a high percentage of relaxing theanine . So swap your coffee for a matcha tea or matcha latte in the morning – you should feel more alert without getting the jitters.
Anti-ageing: memory and brain health
- Studies have suggested that catechins in green tea can reach the brain and help protect the neurons (nerve cells), and reduce decline in brain function .
- Green tea may specifically help to prevent Alzheimer’s disease, one of the primary causes of memory loss. To get technical for a moment, it’s been reported that the catechins in green tea can help prevent the build-up of amyloid plaques, and also help reduce accumulation of phosphorylated tau proteins [15, 16] – these are two of the processes that occur in Alzheimer’s disease and lead to decline in memory and cognitive function (thinking, reasoning, learning, etc.).
- Studies also suggest that L-theanine, the ‘relaxing’ amino acid in green and matcha tea, may have benefits for memory and reducing decline in cognitive function as we get older. 
Maintaining bone strength
- Green tea may be particularly beneficial for our bone strength too. Although studies find that both black and green teas may be supportive, many more studies have shown benefits of green tea. It’s been found, for example, that EGCG can decrease our numbers of osteoclasts – the cells that break down bone; and increasethe numbers and activity of osteoblasts – the cells that build bone. .
Green tea for a healthy mouth and fresh breath
- Among the specific research findings, green tea has been shown to have potent anti-bacterial activity against several of the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay .
- In the form of a mouthwash, it’s been found to help reduce plaque and gum disease, including in a recent study carried out on 110 men .
- Several studies have found that green tea can help reduce bad breath (halitosis) thanks to its natural disinfectant and deodorant activities [20, 21].
Try Pukka Herbs’ new matcha tea range; Ginseng Matcha Green, Clean Matcha Green and Mint Matcha Green. For more information, check out: http://www.pukkaherbs.com/