Is Matcha Healthier Than Green Tea?

Dec 16, 2015 08:30 AM EST | By Maria Leonila Masculino

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A recent study reported that the centuries-old Japanese type of tea, matcha, has been proven to be healthier than green tea.

The Wall Street Journal reports recent findings published by ConsumerLab.com suggests that one serving of matcha contains more epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG - an antioxidant that could help prevent cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

"You'll get about two to three times more EGCG from matcha" than from ordinary green tea, says Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com in White Plains, N.Y. - a company that tests dietary supplements. The major brands tested include Starbucks Corp.'s Teavana Imperial Grade Matcha, Teahouse Matcha from Rishi Tea Co., Milwaukee, Wis.; and DōMatcha Organic Ceremonial Matcha from Canada's Ecotrend Ecologics Ltd.

Matcha comes from the same plant species that produces green leaf tea. According to EcoTrend owner John Harrison, plant sources of matcha are partly shaded from sunlight few weeks before picking. This process will produce greater chlorophyll that will create a rich, green color.

Li Gong, owner of Encha Life, San Francisco added that dried leaves are ground into powder --- which is usually stored inside airtight containers to preserve antioxidants. Gong imports matcha from Japan since last year although his company wasn't included in the ConsumerLab report.

To prepare a nice cup of matcha, add hot (but not boiling) water between 155 degrees to 175 Farenheit. In Japanese tradition, people whisk matcha with bamboo to create a creamy froth.

Mr. Harrison added that matcha lovers often drink it as iced tea or in smoothies with soy, almond or rice milk. FYI: the protein contained in cow's milk combined with catechins reduces some of matcha's health benefits, he explained.

Catechins are antioxidants that could help stop cell damage and regulate metabolism.

Don't drink too much matcha, though.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends a maximum of 300 milligrams of caffeine per day and an 8-ounce cup of Starbuck's Teavana Grade Matcha contains 120 milligrams. According to the coffee company, that compares to 50 to 60 milligrams of caffeine from a cup of brewed green tea and 160 milligrams of medium roast brewed coffee.

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