Matcha has been shown to improve attention, memory, and even reaction time. This is because Matcha, a type of green tea, also contains caffeine and an amino acid called L-theanine, which can improve different types of brain function.
This easy-to-prepare beverage has grown in popularity. With everything from matcha lattes, shots, hot or iced teas, and even desserts appearing everywhere.
Whether you approach the art of drinking Matcha in a ceremonial sense with a bamboo whisk and bowl or a more modern sense, it’s simple and easy to add the healing benefits of matcha to your everyday routine.
What is L-Theanine?
L-theanine is an amino acid compound that occurs naturally in green tea, black tea, and some types of mushrooms, and is also available in supplement form.
L-theanine affects certain chemicals in the brain that help reduce anxiety and promotes relaxation. These chemicals are serotonin and dopamine, which impact mood, sleep, and emotion, and cortisol, which helps the body manage stress.
Drinking a cup of tea or another hot beverage is helpful for many people as part of their evening routine to relax.
Research suggests that the L-theanine in green tea may contribute to feeling relaxed and calm by reducing a person’s resting heart rate.
Due to the anti-inflammatory effects L-Theanine has, it could also help fight illness.
There have been studies that have suggested that taking L-theanine could boost a person’s immune system, making them less likely to get common colds or the flu.
The FDA classified L-theanine as “generally recognized as safe.” This means that they believe L-theanine to be safe when people use it as recommended.
That goes without saying that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not use L-theanine.
How Much L-theanine Is in Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha contains five times as much L-theanine as regular green tea (20 mg versus 4 mg per cup), due to shading techniques Japanese farmers developed centuries ago.
The tea bushes are shielded from sunlight for about a month before harvest.
The shading process results in an increase in chlorophyll levels, which turns the leaves a darker shade of green and increases the amount of amino acids in the leaves.
Tea leaves grown in full sunlight diminishes L-theanine, while shading enhances it. When grown properly, the tea leaves used for Matcha are full of L-theanine, making for a healthier and more beneficial cup of tea.
Does Matcha Have More L-theanine Than Regular Green Tea?
Matcha and green tea both are derived from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea typically is either loose or bagged.
On the other hand matcha is a fine powder of pulverized green tea leaves. The main difference is the production process and what’s left as a resulting product.
The growing, harvesting, and preparation process boosts the production of certain compounds, like L-theanine, that benefit health, which makes it the best concentrated source of this amino acid.
Due to the fact that when you drink Matcha you are consuming the whole tea leaf as well as considering the growing and production process, there is almost 5 times the amount of L-theanine in Matcha as opposed ton regular Green tea.
Meaning you would have to drink significantly more green tea to have the same affects as drinking just one cup of Matcha.
How To Prepare Matcha
There are a bunch of ways to prepare matcha, so you can decide which one fits your lifestyle the best. It can also be incorporated into many different recipes.
Everyone’s preference and taste is different for matcha, and it might differ depending on the quality of your matcha, so it’s best to ease into it when beginning.
You can make traditional matcha tea by sifting 1–2 teaspoons of matcha powder into your cup, adding 2 ounces of hot water, and mixing it together with a bamboo whisk in a “w” motion.
The idea here is to get all the clumps out and froth the tea to make it as smooth as possible. Bubbles on the top are a great sign.
If you want a different consistency, like thicker or thinner, you can adjust how much water you add to your matcha tea.
For a thinner consistency, reduce the amount to a half teaspoon and mix with 3–4 ounces of hot water, again using the “w” whisking motion to make it smooth and have bubbles.
If you’re looking for a stronger and more concentrated version of this drink, combine 2 teaspoons of powder with just 1 ounce of water and whisk away in a back and forth “w” motion.
When you don’t have a bamboo whisk available to you, a handheld milk frother will do the job and help you reach that foamy consistency.
An iced matcha latte is a popular drink and easy to do. Shaking it is even more convenient than having to use a whisk as well.
What you’re going to need is a container with a tight seal, like a mason jar or an empty drinking bottle that is durable enough to shake ice in.
Add the matcha powder to the container along with the appropriate portion of water or milk, close it, and shake until combined. Shaking it with ice might help with clumping, but you can do it without and then pour over ice as well.
Sifting the powder into the container first will also reduce the chance of clumps that survived the shaking process.
A blender is an even easier alternative that takes the time and effort out of sifting and whisking.
It doesn’t need to be the strongest highest quality blender, but usually something smaller will get the job done.
Add your matcha powder and liquid to the blender and slowly pulse together until smooth and there is foaming on top.
This goes without saying that the blender method is also convenient if considering matcha smoothies or milkshakes as well.
If you’ve been wanting to get into matcha green tea, it’s never been easier. With so many different recipes, health benefits, and easy preparation methods, there’s really no reason not to give matcha a try!