Matcha's USP is that it contains lots of phytonutrients and flavonoids that help neutralize free radicals and provides protection against heart disease, hypertension and cancer
The world over many java enthusiasts are ditching coffee and green tea in favour of matcha tea, a cup of which is believed to pack nutrients equivalent to 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea.
Originating from Japan, matcha is actually a powder made of stone-ground green tea leaves. When you drink matcha you ingest the entire leaf, receiving 100% of the nutrients of the leaf. It’s strong, and a deeply flavourful tea, but it has a grassy (spinach-like) taste that takes a little getting used to. The health benefits are so many, however, that it has a growing fan following across the globe. The tea is available online, and in speciality stores like Nature’s Basket. It can cost anything from Rs1,000-2,000 for 100g.
“Matcha tea is considered better than green tea in all respects because of its higher antioxidant levels, chlorophyll and other amino acids," says Sunita Roy Chowdhary, chief dietitian, BLK Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi.
What’s more, matcha contains no sodium or fat, and like regular and green teas, has just three calories per serving. “It has protein and is an excellent source of vitamins C and A, fibre and iron. Matcha’s USP is that it contains lots of phytonutrients and flavonoids that help neutralize free radicals and provides protection against heart disease, hypertension and cancer," says Nidhi Dhawan, head (dietetics), Saroj Super Speciality Hospital, Delhi. L-Theanine and catechins, such as Epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), are compounds that give matcha tea many of its healing capabilities, and a study published in the Journal Of Chromatography in 2003 shows that matcha tea has three times more EGCG than regular green tea. “EGCG is a phytochemical compound that acts as an antioxidant and fights cancer, viruses and heart disease. Matcha drinkers also have higher metabolic rates, which translates into better weight management," says Chowdhary, adding, “L-Theanine helps to step up the ‘feel good’ chemicals in the brain, resulting in improved memory and mood."
Matcha tea is particularly good for diabetics. It helps reduce triglyceride levels, as well as glucose content in diabetics, and helps prevent renal and hepatic damage. “Matcha also contains a lot of easily absorbable dietary fibre, which helps stabilize blood sugar," says Dhawan.
There could be, however, one point of concern: A cup of matcha green tea using half a teaspoon of powder contains around 35mg of caffeine, slightly more than you would find in a cup of regular green tea. But if you restrict yourself to two-three cups a day, caffeine content remains in check, and you can get enough antioxidants to stay fit and healthy.
On the plate
Matcha tea with a twist
Rahis Khan, executive chef at The Metropolitan Hotel & Spa in Delhi, says one can add matcha tea powder to various dishes. “It is commonly whipped into lattes, dusted atop savoury dishes and mixed into sweets like cakes and doughnuts," he says. Khan offers some recipes for you to try.
Aam panna with matcha green tea
500g green mangoes1/2cup sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black rock salt
2 tsp roasted and powdered cumin seeds
2 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
2 cups water
2 tbsp matcha green tea
Boil the mangoes till they become soft inside, and the skin gets discoloured. When cool, remove the skin and squeeze the pulp out. Mix all the ingredients together, blend and add water. Put some ice in two glasses and pour the mix over it.
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsp butter (plus more for skillet)
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup flour
1 tbsp matcha powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
In a bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, melted butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add flour, matcha powder, baking powder and salt, and whisk till the batter comes together. Heat a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Brush with butter. Using a N cup measure, dollop circles of pancake batter on to the skillet. Wait until bubbles appear and pop on the surface, then flip the pancakes and cook for another minute or so. Stack pancakes and serve hot with butter and maple syrup.