By Meghan MacKinnon, BSc, ND
Markahm & Aurora Naturopathic Doctor
Those of you who see me as patients, know that I am a green tea 'pusher', having a 'more is always better' approach. I wanted to share a few things about why I love green tea and my newest favourite - matcha! Green tea has long been know for it's health promoting properties, having links to cancer and heart disease prevention, weight loss, as well as preventing diabetes and dementia and even has anti-aging properties due to it's high anti-oxidant content. Most of the benefit from green tea has been linked to a component in it called EGCG. Matcha refers to green tea leaves that have been ground into a fine powder. When prepared this way, the tea has more amino acids and increases the amount of EGCG and other nutritional ingredients in it dramatically, making it a superpower green tea!
Does Green Tea Contain Caffeine? Yes, all green tea (including matcha) contains a small amount of caffeine (roughly half that of coffee), so it can be used effectively as a caffeine substitute. Green tea also has a component in it called l-theanine. L-theanine creates a feeling of relaxation, improves focus and concentration without agitating the nervous system, meaning that you should feel calm and refreshed after drinking green tea, rather than the jittery feelings often associated with coffee.
Where Can I Get Matcha? Most health food stores should carry matcha products and believe it or not, this is actually what's used at Starbucks to make their Green Tea Lattes (although I can't comment on the quality or amount of EGCG in their matcha)! Note: Yes, it really is that expensive, but yes it really is that good. Grinding the leaves is a slow and expensive process, taking up to one hour to produce one ounce of matcha.