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What is Matcha Tea?

Katherine Swift

Written byKatherine Swift

heeral-patel-bio

Reviewed byHeeral Patel

Macha tea in a white mug being held by a hand
What's the best way to make matcha tea at home? And what exactly is matcha tea? Learn everything you need to know about matcha tea from our guide.
This vibrant, earthy-tasting type of green tea is a significant ingredient in Japanese culinary culture and an excellent alternative to highly caffeinated drinks.

If you’ve not got to grips with making a great cup of matcha tea yet, let Katherine Swift, OMGTea founder, help.

“When I founded OMGTea ten years ago, Matcha was essentially unknown in the UK, and I was determined to spread the word about it and its many benefits. It has therefore been wonderful to see how far this extraordinary green superfood has come. Today, Matcha is available in most quality retailers, cafes, and restaurants and with its potential health benefits and photogenic green colour, it features heavily on social media. Surprisingly however, there’s still many people who have yet to try Matcha.”

So, what is Matcha?

Quality Matcha isn’t just another type of green tea, it’s the champagne of green tea. Tea leaves grown for Matcha are shaded three to four weeks before harvesting and then stone-ground to a fine powder. The shading process improves the quality of the matcha tea with the leaves becoming packed with chlorophyll and amino acids.1

Not only have the Zen Buddhist Monks used Matcha for over 800 years, but Matcha was also the tea the Samurai turned to before battle.

The benefits of Matcha

Each ½ teaspoon serving (one gram) of Matcha contains approximately 34mg of caffeine. It’s easily tolerated by most people for whom coffee makes them jittery, this is because all the other components that make up Matcha are thought to slow down the release of caffeine into the body, giving you a more sustainable release of energy throughout the day.

It’s also L-Theanine2 that may give you that Zen feeling when you drink Matcha. Matcha is specifically high in catechins, a type of antioxidant which have been shown to have a variety of health benefits.

The story behind OMGTea

“I discovered Matcha following my mum’s diagnosis with a serious illness. I wanted to do anything I could to support her and started working with a charity that funds world-class research. I spent a lot of time in the research unit and was fascinated to see what was being discovered. The Research Director had an interest in antioxidants and I found out about the importance of antioxidants in our diets, particularly when fighting disease, and the high levels found in green tea. If my mum was going to drink any green tea, it had to be the best.

We both started drinking Matcha and felt great, my mum was taking back some control that her illness robbed from her and I was doing something positive to help. I felt so passionate about Matcha that five years after my mum’s diagnosis, I launched OMGTea, a specialist Matcha Green Tea company.”

What’s the scientific research behind Matcha?

“I have a keen interest in the potential health benefits of Matcha and OMGTea has been involved in scientific research to study these in more detail, including research on the impact of quality Matcha on fat oxidation and its effect on breast cancer stem cells.

Research on breast cancer stem cells, carried out at the University of Salford, showed that Matcha green tea may have significant therapeutic potential, by mediating the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells3. The study, which was in vitro (an artificial environment), is very promising but it’s early stages, and more research is needed to validate the findings further.”

Michael Lisanti, Head of Translational Medicine at University of Salford says:

“Katherine was the driving force behind this study and donated the necessary product for testing. I have always been interested in natural products, so to finally have this positive research which highlights the effects of Matcha green tea is a very important first step forward.” 

“Matcha green tea fits very well with our interest in natural products. Our findings could also help explain why lifespan in Japan is among the highest in the world. As awareness of the potential health benefits of this natural compound continues to increase it is not surprising that it is also growing in popularity.”

Research from Acadia University in Canada (2019) and in partnership with the University of Chichester in the UK, involving 13 women, showed that drinking Matcha green tea enhanced exercise-induced fat oxidation by 35%4. More research is needed in the effects of Matcha on weight management, but the results are promising!

Mark Willems, Professor in Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester, comments:

“To be able to come out with these findings on fat oxidation and performance is just wonderful. I expect an increased interest to discover additional potential of Matcha intake in the world of diet and exercise.”

What does the grading system mean on OMGTea?

OMGTea uses only the highest quality matcha tea across all grades and created the simple ‘A’ system to help differentiate between each product. This system is similar to the one often used to select the finest grains of wood to craft high-end guitars.

AA matcha is blended using first and second harvest leaves and is ideal for drinking as a latte or in a smoothie and as an ingredient in other recipes. OMGTea AAA+ and AAA Matcha teas are both made exclusively from first harvest leaves. OMGTea AAA is high grade and a great all-rounder, making it perfect to consume as a tea as well as in lattes. AAA+ is a super high grade for Matcha lovers, who appreciate the fine taste of quality matcha and ideal for consuming straight as tea.

How to make the perfect cup of Matcha

Making a cup of Matcha is easier than you might think, and the process is quite enjoyable, with many Matcha drinkers creating their own mindfulness ritual around the preparation. 
  • Add half a heaped teaspoon of matcha into a bowl or wide-mouthed mug 
  • Add a few drops of hot, not boiling water, (80C or less) and mix to create a paste 
  • Fill with more hot water (or milk of your choice if making a latte) and whisk until frothy and smooth

Top tip for your cup of matcha

 The key tool for making a smooth and well blended cup of matcha is a fine tea strainer. Quality Matcha is an ultra-fine microscopic powder meaning it easily becomes electrostatically charged and forms lumps.

If you don’t have a temperature control kettle, let it boil and let it sit for 10 minutes before preparing.

Sources

1. Chen X, Ye K, Xu Y, Zhao Y, Zhao D. Effect of Shading on the Morphological, Physiological, and Biochemical Characteristics as Well as the Transcriptome of Matcha Green Tea [Internet]. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2022 Nov 16;23(22):14169–9. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36430647/ 
2. Baba Y, Takihara T, Okamura N. Theanine maintains sleep quality in healthy young women by suppressing the increase in caffeine-induced wakefulness after sleep onset. Food & Function [Internet]. 2023 [cited 2023 Aug 21];14(15):7109–16. Available from: https://pubs.rsc.org/en/content/articlehtml/2023/fo/d3fo01247f 
3. Bonuccelli G, Sotgia F, Lisanti MP. Matcha green tea (MGT) inhibits the propagation of cancer stem cells (CSCs), by targeting mitochondrial metabolism, glycolysis and multiple cell signalling pathways. Aging [Internet]. 2019;10(8):1867–83. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30153655 
4. Willems MET, Şahin MA, Cook MD. Matcha Green Tea Drinks Enhance Fat Oxidation During Brisk Walking in Females. International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism. 2018 Sep 1;28(5):536–41. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29345213/ 
 

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