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Matcha Is Enjoying a Moment in the Spotlight, and This Is Why

Chances are you’ve seen a matcha latte on the menu of your favorite coffee shop, or perhaps you’ve marveled at the bright green liquid while browsing through an influencer’s social media account, but if you don’t already know what matcha is (or even if you do), the reason it's become so popular is because it's packed with nutrients.

Matcha comes from the same tea plant, the Camellia sinensis, that produces normal green tea, but the difference is how it is grown and processed. According to Healthline, tea plants used for matcha require farmers to cover their plants between 20 to 30 days before harvest, to avoid any direct sunlight, and thus increase chlorophyll production. The publication notes that this “boosts the amino acid content and gives the plant a darker green hue.” The leaves of the plant are then removed and ground into a powder known as matcha, and unlike some other teas, the whole tea leaf is used in the creation of matcha, which increases the number of antioxidants—you’re drinking the entire leaf, instead of brewing tea, drinking the water, and tossing the leaves.

Traditionally, matcha takes around an hour to grind because it is done using granite stones, and Louise Cheadle, tea company owner and co-author of The Book of Matcha, told Time: “The finest matcha comes from Japan, where it has been grown for centuries and forms part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.”

Matcha teas, lattes, and shots all make for an interesting Instagram post because of the rich coloring, but this drink also offers health benefits, and among these benefits are catechins, a natural antioxidant. According to Healthline, antioxidants “help stabilize harmful free radicals” which cause disease and cellular damage.

Matcha can promote cognitive function in healthy adults. Food Network notes that a 2017 study published in Food Research International highlighted the difference in performance reaction time and attention, in individuals who consumed matcha, compared to their non-matcha drinking counterparts.

And match could also be your drink of choice if you want to lose weight and increase your metabolism. Food Network reported on how research has indicated that drinking matcha can cause an “increase in your body’s rate of thermogenesis,” which allows you to burn calories.

Plus, with the caffeine concentration higher than other teas, matcha can help you beat that midday slump! And at the same time, it won’t have the negative effect that coffee can sometimes have on individuals. Nutritionist Jenna Gorham, RD, told Women’s Health, "People say that when they drink matcha, they have a smooth alertness and don't experience a 'caffeine crash,' which could have to do with the L-theanine component.”

And what about taste? Personally, I feel matcha is somewhat of an acquired taste, and it's one of those beverages that you know is healthy, but doesn' necessarily provide you with a taste explosion. But Louise Cheadle can paint a more accurate picture. “A good quality matcha is bright green and smooth. An average matcha will be yellow and grainy to touch — the tougher leaves of the tea bush,” she told Time. “A good matcha will not taste bitter at all; there will be a slightly sweet taste.”

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