Matcha has been hype for several years as a "healthy alternative" to coffee. It is said to help with cardiovascular diseases or even against cancer. But what is actually behind the Japanese term and what makes this plant so special?
In our big Matcha test 2021 we will answer all these questions with the help of scientific principles. We will not only show you the positive effects of matcha, but also point out possible side effects. In addition, we decipher the different quality characteristics of matcha and show you what you should definitely look out for when buying it.
- 1 Weekly newsletter with the best personal finance tips
- 2 The most important facts
- 3 The Best Matcha: Our Picks
- 4 Buying and evaluation criteria for Matcha products
- 5 Guide: Frequently asked questions about matcha answered in detail
- 5.1 What is Matcha and how does it work?
- 5.2 When and for whom does it make sense to take matcha?
- 5.3 What side effects can occur with Matcha?
- 5.4 How should matcha be dosed?
- 5.5 What types of matcha are there?
- 5.6 How is Matcha tea prepared?
- 5.7 What else can Matcha be used for?
- 5.8 What alternatives are there to matcha?
The most important facts
- Matcha is a ground green tea powder from Japan. It only takes a few minutes and a few accessories to make it into tea.
- Matcha is often considered a healthier alternative to coffee because of its positive effect on the ability to concentrate. Matcha has also been shown to have a relaxing effect. However, there is no conclusive evidence that it can prevent cancer.
- When buying matcha tea, look for high quality in terms of colour, taste and origin. Inferior products are also suitable for cooking.
The Best Matcha: Our Picks
Buying and evaluation criteria for Matcha products
When buying Matcha products, you can pay attention to various aspects, such as:
By comparing products, you can include your priorities in the decision and find the right choice for you. We will explain the main criteria in the following.
The taste of Matcha cannot be described universally, as there are very strong differences from sweet to tart. If matcha is made from tea from earlier harvests between April and May, it has an aromatic and intense taste, which is called umami in Japanese.
Umami counts as the fifth sense of taste and is often described as savoury or full-bodied. Many consider this to be the "real" taste of matcha.
Tea from later harvests until September produces a slightly tart, somewhat bitter taste that some people find unpleasant. Other flavour nuances can be created by different degrees of drying or added flavours.
Under no circumstances should your matcha taste like seaweed or fish, extremely bitter or otherwise unpleasant.
These are signs of low quality or even an imitation.
Form of presentation
Matcha is usually offered either in powder form or as capsules. Matcha powder can be boiled with hot water to make tea and drunk. However, there are also Matcha capsules on the market that are primarily intended to absorb the ingredients.
We will take up the two types again later and compare them in detail. The most important thing is whether you are only interested in the health-promoting aspect of Matcha or whether you also want to enjoy it.
As we have seen, taste is one of many quality characteristics. The colour, smell and origin of the Matcha are also important factors. With Matcha powder, the finer the powder, the higher the quality.
High-quality matcha should be an intense shade of green. Yellow or grey nuances indicate too little shade. Similar to the taste, the smell should not be algae or fishy, but slightly sweet, grassy and fresh.
Tea connoisseurs agree that the best matcha comes from Japan. In the meantime, there are also many growing areas in China that deliver good quality. Tea harvested in the so-called "first flush" between the end of April and mid-May is considered the highest quality harvest.
The term "ceremonial quality" is often used for this. One level below is the premium quality, and the last level is the cooking quality.
Oxidation with atmospheric oxygen causes matcha to lose its quality quickly. That is why it is recommended to consume a packet as soon as possible after it has been opened. You can prolong the life of your matcha by storing it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
If you are trying Matcha for the first time and are not yet sure if you like the taste, you should choose a small pack size. For intimate matcha lovers who need a little green every day, larger quantities are also suitable. Simply adjust the amount to your consumption.
Guide: Frequently asked questions about matcha answered in detail
In order to inform you comprehensively about the effectiveness of Matcha and to give you an understanding of the current state of science, we have summarised all the important information in the following sections.
What is Matcha and how does it work?
Compared to other green teas, the tea plants are shaded with light-proof nets 3 to 4 weeks before harvesting.
This results in the increased formation of chlorophyll and many other ingredients in the leaves, to which the expected effects are attributed, such as:
- Catechins, especially epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)
For real matcha, only the noble leaf tissue is used, stems or similar are sorted out. The tea is then steamed, dried and ground into powder. This process is very time-consuming, but preserves the valuable ingredients.
The powder only needs to be infused with water and can then be drunk as tea.
By drinking the leaves, the body receives 100% of the ingredients.
Weight loss effect
With the hype for matcha have come many health promises, including that matcha will help you lose weight. It has at least been scientifically proven that daily intake of green tea, which is rich in catechins like EGCG, can reduce body fat.(1)
There is also 3 times more EGCG in matcha tea than in green tea.(2)
However, this effect may be weakened by regular high caffeine consumption. (3) So if you are an intensive coffee drinker, you should rather abstain from a few cups of coffee during a weight loss phase with Matcha.
Effect on concentration
Everyone knows that coffee is a stimulant and can increase concentration for a certain period of time. The reason for this is the caffeine it contains, which is also found in matcha.
In combination with the L-theanine in matcha, researchers have found that it can also increase the speed of performance and reduce susceptibility to distractions.(4)
In addition, L-theanine can relax the body and reduce stress levels induced by caffeine. (5) The negative properties of caffeine such as tremors are thus slowed down.
In this way, the combination ensures a sustained increase in memory performance and keeps you focused. Thus, matcha is not considered a better alternative to coffee for nothing.
Effect on the cardiovascular system
Matcha can also have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system. In a long-term study with over 40,000 participants, it was observed that the mortality rate due to diseases of the cardiovascular system was reduced by the daily consumption of 5 cups of green tea.(6)
In addition, tea drinkers generally lived longer. This effect was attributed to the secondary plant compounds, especially EGCG.
Other studies showed similar results, so that even one cup of green tea a day can reduce the risk of heart disease.(7, 8)
So there is definitely a chance that you can protect yourself from heart disease by drinking matcha regularly.
Effect on cancer
What's next? Matcha is also supposed to cure cancer? Well, we don't want to go that far, as quite different results have come to light in this area. (9) Green tea consumption at least does not protect you from dying of cancer.(6)
In some cases, no connection at all was found between the catechins in green tea and possible cancer prevention.(10)
However, it is not completely ruled out that the consumption of matcha can protect against cancer. There are indications that the EGCG in matcha can help fight prostate cancer cells.(11)
Furthermore, it seems that the risk of breast cancer and colon cancer in women is reduced by taking matcha. (12, 13) In cell cultures, it was also observed that EGCG can stop the migration of bronchial tumour cells.(14)
Although there is still no conclusive evidence for an effect as cancer prevention, on the other hand, a little matcha tea does not seem to do any harm.
When and for whom does it make sense to take matcha?
Due to the binding to L-theanine, it is only released in the intestine and the effect occurs later than coffee but is more lasting.
Matcha tea is often used as a stimulant in the morning, but it can also be used in between times throughout the day. If you are sensitive to caffeine in the evening, you should not drink a cup a few hours before going to bed.
Matcha contains a lot of caffeine and can be compared to an espresso in the corresponding concentration. Therefore, the consumption of matcha products is not suitable for children.
Can pregnant women take Matcha?
The amount of caffeine in Matcha is also a critical point for pregnant women. In the first third of pregnancy, folic acid is important for the development of the child.
In order not to hinder this, as little caffeine as possible should be ingested, especially during this phase. For the remaining stages, moderate consumption of 1 to 2 cups a day should not be exceeded.
Pregnant women in particular need to pay attention to high iron levels. Matcha contains a lot of oxalic acid, which prevents the absorption of iron in the intestine.
Therefore, it is recommended to keep at least 1 hour between meals and drinking matcha tea.
What side effects can occur with Matcha?
- Abdominal pain
It is often recommended not to drink more than 2 cups of matcha tea a day. More than 10 cups of green tea a day can even have a toxic effect and cause damage to the liver and kidneys.(15)
Since matcha contains a higher concentration of herbal ingredients than green tea, a lower value should be assumed here.
How should matcha be dosed?
Therefore, the following product recommendation is based on information from manufacturers and experience reports:
|Product type||Recommended intake|
|Matcha powder||1 teaspoon per cup of tea, 2 times daily|
|Matcha capsules||600 milligrams daily|
These amounts are based on an average adult.
What types of matcha are there?
|Matcha powder||The powder form can be mixed classically as Matcha tea or otherwise processed into food.|
|Matcha capsules||Capsules contain the same ingredients as the powder and can be taken quickly.|
In the next sections we will present the advantages and disadvantages of Matcha powder and capsules.
The classic variant of Matcha is and remains the ground powder. With the powder, you can brew your Matcha as tea and enjoy it, just like in traditional Japan.
Furthermore, the powder form offers you many possibilities for further processing in desserts or drinks.
However, you need a few minutes of time and some accessories for the tea ceremony. We will explain the exact steps of the ceremony in a later section.
For those who are more interested in the valuable ingredients than in the tea, Matcha is available in capsule form. Basically, this is also powder, but it is pre-portioned in capsules. This has the advantage that they are easier and quicker to take.
However, capsules are often more expensive than powder and the coating can be made of animal material. Cheap green tea powder is also often added here. Therefore, make sure that the product is pure and of high quality.
Now that you have gained extensive knowledge about Matcha and its products, we would like to introduce you to the preparation of Matcha tea as well as other uses and alternatives.
How is Matcha tea prepared?
- Preparation: Preheat the bowl with warm water and place the bamboo broom in it. This softens the broom and increases its longevity.
- Straining: Put 2 bamboo spoons or 1 teaspoon of matcha powder in a sieve and add it to the emptied bowl.
- Infusion: Pour 100ml of hot water at a temperature of about 80 °C. Boiling water can kill valuable ingredients.
- Whisk: Whisk the liquid with the bamboo whisk until a dense foam forms. Move the whisk in quick zigzag movements.
Depending on your taste, you can vary the amount of Matcha powder or water. However, you should always clean the accessories with a little water after use.
If you don't have a Matcha set, you can use a conventional bowl with a high rim and a teaspoon instead of the bamboo spoon. As an alternative to the bamboo whisk, you can use a whisk with as many thin wires as possible or even a milk frother.
What else can Matcha be used for?
Matcha is particularly popular for desserts because of its less sweet taste and its bright green colour.
Next time you bake or cook, just add some matcha powder and create your favourite recipes from scratch. You will find many ideas on the internet, such as the Matcha Latte as an alternative to coffee or the Matcha Cake.
If you process a lot with Matcha, you should use cooking quality products. These are much cheaper and the difference in quality is hardly noticeable in the end products.
What alternatives are there to matcha?
|Coffee||Coffee is the classic wake-up stimulant. It works the fastest of all caffeine alternatives, but the effect lasts for a comparatively short time. Afterwards, the effect can turn into the opposite.|
|Guarana||Guarana is a berry from South America that is processed as a powder. The caffeine effect unfolds bit by bit a few hours after ingestion and lasts up to 6 hours. It is also said to relax the body.|
|Mate||The South American drink mate is also very caffeinated. Similar to guarana, the effect is slow to set in, but lasts a long time. Bitter substances and vitamins stimulate the metabolism.|
Which alternative is right for you depends on how quickly you want the caffeine effect to kick in. Not to mention the completely different tastes of the variants, whose choice is ultimately a personal decision.
Image source: 123rf / 56152472
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