I blogged last week about my struggle in giving up coffee. It’s really hard for me to do because I love that hit of caffeine that wakes me up in the morning. I don’t like to do anything slowly, and coffee has a way of making things happen fast. I’ve discovered matcha…green tea’s answer to espresso. I hope my life has just taken a turn toward alert healthiness. I know coffee has health benefits, too, but it does something to my anxiety level that green tea doesn’t, so I have to let it go on its merry way.
My first encounter with matcha was at Starbucks, my favorite coffeehouse. I had given up caffeine for several months on the advice of an acupuncturist. I was completely caffeine-free. I’d like to say that I was enjoying it, but I wasn’t. I have a low energy level naturally, but I need high energy for my lifestyle. So, I manufacture it with healthy foods, exercise and caffeine. I ordered their Green Tea Latte when we went through the drive thru one morning. I assumed there wouldn’t be much caffeine. I fell in love at the first sip. It was yummy. Back then, they put melon syrup in the Green Tea Lattes, and the combination of sweetness with that beautiful green hue was light and delightful. I remember later that afternoon remarking, “I think there must be a lot of caffeine in that drink. I feel so energized.” I was hooked.
Matcha’s lift is different than the caffeine in coffee. Coffee is processed, so the caffeine content is ramped up. It hits your nervous system with a bang. Green Tea and Matcha are lightly processed, so the caffeine hits your nervous system in its natural strength. Plus, L-Theanine is present in tea. Drugs.com has this to say:
L-theanine may help relieve stress by inducing a relaxing effect without drowsiness and may also possess immunologic attributes. L-Theanine may also have effects on the cardiovascular system and play a preventative role in cancer; however, limited clinical information is available to support these claims.
Matcha also has all the health benefits of green tea, but maybe even intensified. About.com says:
Some proponents claim that matcha contains more antioxidants than other forms of green tea. In addition, matcha is purported to promote weight loss, lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure, support detox efforts, enhance mood, reduce stress, increase energy, keep blood sugar in check, and stimulate the immune system.
Since I’m working really hard to keep my hypoglycemia in check, the benefits to blood sugar are really important to me. And, who doesn’t love weight loss? I’ll take whatever I can get in that area!
I find with both green tea and matcha I get very alert but not jittery or wired. I just feel good. I’m having my first cup of matcha right now, and I can feel the gentle waking up occurring in my brain. I need it. I’ve been foggy all day. The caffeine in matcha is about half the amount in a cup of coffee, so, even though it is strong for tea, it’s not as strong as the dose in coffee. Matcha is made by covering the young tea leaves so that the chlorophyll content is increased. It gives it this beautiful bright green color. Then the tea leaves are ground into a powder. You consume the whole tea leaf, so you actually ingest the leaves and get the full nutritional benefit of the tea leaves. They say this also lengthens the time that you will be impacted by the uplift in energy.
Matcha is expensive, though. I bought a 1 1/2 oz. container the other day at the Fresh Market, and it was $19. I did some research and found a matcha source at www.nuts.com for $19 for 8 oz., so I ordered some. I recommend it. It’s every bit as good as the other matcha I bought. I make mine by pouring about 2 oz. of hot water over 1/2 tablespoon of matcha. I whisk it until it is dissolved. Then, I add some soy milk or milk and a little honey or agave nectar to taste. I had to get used to it this way because the Starbucks version has 55 grams of sugar in a grande. That’s equivalent to about 14 teaspoons of sugar! No wonder I loved it! My little one teaspoon of honey is is nothing in comparison.
I can put my matcha in smoothies, make tea, in ice cream for making green tea ice cream and in baked goods. So, it’s versatile. For right now, I use it in my morning smoothie and in tea. I just love to be a bit ceremonial about my waking up and experiencing the lift of the grassy drink. Besides, as much as it costs, I want to feel the difference!!