If you’ve noticed everyone’s lattes and frozen drinks suddenly appearing green in colour, don’t panic. You haven’t gone mad and it tastes far better than it looks.
Matcha in all of its green glory has become quite the trend — and for good reason. Incredibly high in antioxidants, matcha works as a brain-enhancer, fat-burner, performance-booster and more. Its powdery green consistency and spinach-like flavour make it perfect for throwing into almost anything.
Just take a look at any juice shop or cafe menu around the world right now and you’ll find no shortage of matcha [insert food or drink item here]. But what is this versatile green powder exactly?
What is Matcha?
Matcha is stone-ground green tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant, which is shade-grown for three weeks prior to harvest. This growth method allows the plant to increase the production of chlorophyll, as well as the concentration of other nutrients and amino acids; most notably L-theanine. Because the entire leaf is ground-up and consumed, one serving of matcha actually contains slightly more caffeine than a serving of green tea — but the L-theanine counteracts the effect of stimulants and leaves you with a jitter-free experience.
Matcha's benefits for athletes
This is why it makes the perfect staple for athletes, in particular. The L-theanine causes the caffeine to release slowly, giving you a more sustained and pleasant sensation, without the anxiety and comedown of coffee. To boot, the matcha buzz can last three to six hours — perfect for distance runners, rowers, swimmers and bikers alike.
And perhaps matcha’s greatest bragging right is its high content of catechins, a unique and powerful class of antioxidants known for fighting free radicals, burning fat and boosting metabolism. This is great news for every human, but for endurance athletes, this makes matcha a must-try.
Due to its popularity and versatility, matcha is easy to incorporate into your daily routine. Try it with hot or cold water, in a smoothie with bananas, your milk of choice, protein powder and any other fruits and veggies.