You've probably seen green lattes invading your Instagram feed, and for sure you've wondered what actually IS matcha. And is it supposed to be so superior to a good ol' cup of joe? Let us sort the buzz from the BS for you.
It's green tea, but not as you know it.
Matcha is a finely ground powder made of whole Japanese green tea leaves. When you brew your usual green tea you're essentially throwing away most of the goodness because water can only extract a fraction of its benefits. The majority of the valuable antioxidants and minerals actually remain unused, trapped in the tea leaves. Matcha is the stone-ground tea leaves, which are unheated to preserve their nutrients and far less processed than regular green tea leaves, so by drinking it you gain all of the benefits from this uber powerful superfood.
It's the queen of antioxidants.
Matcha kicks ass on the antioxidant-front, totally surpassing its superfood peers such as goji berries and pomegranate. Antioxidants rule because they prohibit (and in some cases even prevent), the oxidation of other molecules in the body—the major cause of ageing. One cup of matcha has as many antioxidants as 10 cups of brewed green tea and far more than coffee, which doesn't contain catechins, a family of antioxidants that have been linked to improved aging and cancer fighting.
It gives you a clean caffeine hit.
Like coffee, matcha contains caffeine, but instead of giving you the jitters, it gives you a clean high. A matcha hit provides 34 milligrams of caffeine, which is the same as a cup of brewed coffee and half the amount of an espresso. However, the tea's buzz is much more energizing and longer lasting, thanks to the amino acid L-Theanine, which slows the release of caffeine and has a calming, relaxing effect.
It also boosts the metabolism and burns fat.
A study featured in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that consuming matcha green tea increased thermogenesis (the body's own rate of burning calories) from a normal 8 to 10 percent of daily energy expenditure, to between 35 and 43 percent. Another study demonstrated that exercising immediately after drinking matcha green tea resulted in 25 percent more fat burning during exercise.
Oh, and it banishes bad breath.
The catechin blast of matcha acts as a kind of sterilizing agent. A cup of matcha after a meal hinders the growth of germs, which cause periodontal disease and halitosis (bad breath).
But it's not just for your lattes.
Sure, you should drink it (froth it up with hot—not boiling—water or milk), but you can also eat matcha. There are endless ways to get the green powder into your diet; blend it in smoothies and frozen yogurts, add to porridge, puddings, and even cakes. As well as consuming it, matcha can be used in many topical beauty treatments and is especially suitable for face masks. Whatever way, it supports a reduction in bodily toxins meaning it's great for encouraging glowing skin, on to of all the other benefits. What are you waiting for?
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.