Many of us can’t start the day without that coffee hit. Just the smell of a fresh brew begins to wake the senses. The caffeine buzz gets you going but it’s usually a short-lived burst of energy. Many people also report increased anxiety when drinking coffee.
There’s a healthier alternative that cardiologists recommend to get that boost, protect your heart and keep your anxiety at bay.
Coffee is the vice of choice for millions across the world, and in moderation coffee does have a number of health benefits.
But cardiologist Dr Alejandro Junger says there’s a better option that gives you all the energy and focus of coffee, but without the anxiety and jitters that can sometimes follow.
Matcha tea has been popular in China and Japan for centuries. It’s a dried powder made from specially grown green tea leaves usually mixed with hot water, but also sometimes with cold water or milk.
It’s known for having a range of health benefits including lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, the risk of cancer, and it even protects your teeth. Green tea contains more antioxidants than the black tea more commonly consumed in Western society.
Matcha is high in a class of antioxidants called catechins, one in particular called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which has been shown to help fight inflammation.
The shade also makes the tea plant produce more of an amino acid called L-theanine. Research suggests L-theanine may not only help reduce anxiety and stress but also increase focus and attention.
“Drinking brewed green tea is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water,” says Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha.
“You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.” With matcha, you’re drinking the whole tea leaves.”
So, in short, matcha gives you the energetic buzz of coffee but without the raised stress levels that can often follow creating a unique relaxed-but-alert feeling.
There are many different ways to prepare matcha, but the most common is as a hot beverage. Simply take one or two teaspoons (any more and you risk over-caffeinating yourself), mix with boiling water and stir with a whisk. A regular whisk will do but matcha has been traditional whisked with a specialist whisk made from bamboo called a chasen.
Matcha has been prepared this way for generations and still forms part of the traditional Japanese high tea ceremony to this day.
This isn’t the only way to get your matcha fix. Matcha lattes, made using frothed milk like a café latte, have become increasingly popular in recent years.
Iced matcha tea is also a popular way to drink the green tea powder. For the best results, Just Matcha recommends preparing the matcha hot first, and then cooling the mixture with ice.
If you’ve ever eaten green tea ice cream, chances are it was flavoured using matcha powder. It also makes a great addition to a smoothie. It can even be found in icing recipes and doughnuts.
It is reported to be a bit of an acquired taste, and has a grassy flavour that some may not like at first. Don’t be afraid to mix in some honey or maple syrup, as this can offset the somewhat bitter taste.
Have you ever tried matcha tea? Do you think it could be a better alternative to coffee? Let us know in the comments section below.
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