Interest in plant-based and functional foods has increased over the past few years, particularly in connection with maintaining health or preventing disease (1). This in turn resulted in increased consumption of these foods and increased demand (2). Functional components were therefore used in drinks, snacks or various foods. One of these ingredients is matcha (1). Although knowledge about the green powder is still in its early stages, there are already initial findings about the positive effects of matcha (2).
General about matcha
Matcha tea powder is obtained from the leaves of the tea plant Camellia sinensis (L.) Kuntze . In addition to matcha, various other types of tea have been made from it since ancient times, including black and green tea (1).
The tea made from matcha is rich in polyphenols, amino acids and caffeine. Matcha therefore contains health-promoting and functional ingredients and is often consumed for them (1). The amounts of predominantly secondary plant substances contained depend heavily on a wide variety of factors. These include the growing conditions, the age of the leaves, storage, the type of processing and the shading of the leaves (2). The tea plant needs up to 90% shade to thrive and for this reason the cultivation areas are covered with various materials (1).
When harvesting the leaves of the tea plant, the leaves of the second and third harvest are richer in the content of ingredients beneficial to human health than the first harvest (2). After the complete leaves have been picked, they are washed and then dried. These dried leaves are then traditionally ground into powder using stone mills. The use of stone mills was first recorded in China in the 11th century and then in Japan in the 14th century. In the final step, the powder obtained is poured into hot water so that the entire contents of the leaves are consumed (1).
Compared to normal types of tea, matcha powder is rich in bioactive components. It has a high content of catechins, theanine, amino acids and caffeine. These are beneficial to human health as they exhibit chemopreventive, antioxidant and mood-enhancing activities. Antioxidants are particularly abundant (1).
Antioxidant compounds are increasingly present in plant resources and delay or inhibit oxidative processes, which thus protect the organism from free radicals (2). When pouring matcha powder, the antioxidant potential is best ignited at a temperature of 90°C. This is due to better release of biologically active compounds and higher kinetic energy, at higher brewing temperatures (2).
A powerful antioxidant compound are the polyphenol compounds, which have the potential to reduce oxidative stress. In this way, they can absorb metabolically active carcinomas, with the highest content, according to several studies, being achieved with a ten-minute extraction at 90°C or with a longer extraction time and lower temperatures (2).
Furthermore, the flavonoids, as a group of polyphenols, can also be found in matcha powder. The material Rutin deserves special mention here. It helps seal blood vessels, has anti-inflammatory properties, supports the immune system and slows the oxidation of vitamin C. With these properties, rutin has an influence on the human circulatory system. Vitamin C has an influence on the synthesis of collagen in the human body, one of the most important structure-forming proteins in the human body (2).
Another group of polyphenols are the catechins, with tea being the main source of catechins in the daily human diet. They help neutralize free radicals and increase the detoxification activity of enzymes. Furthermore, they have a potential preventive effect on atherosclerosis and increase the elasticity of the arteries. This means they can indirectly prevent ischemic heart disease. The compound epigallocatechin gallate in particular has neuroprotective effects. In general, catechins protect human cells from the activity of reactive oxygen species, which can lead to the destruction of proteins, lipids and DNA. This prevents the premature aging of the cells of the organism and the brain (2).
A vegan and natural source of these antioxidants is the matcha with oat drink from Pelster's. It contains only natural ingredients and is available in organic quality from Japan.
The wrong diet, stress factors or environmental influences can lead to increasing free radicals in the body. Exogenously supplied antioxidants can help here. They thus help to restore and maintain the balance of the organism (2).
Furthermore, antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory functions of matcha stimulate processes that contribute to detoxification and stronger immunology. This reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer by delaying the onset of conditions associated with the progression of these diseases (2).
(1) Hari Prasad Devkota, Bhakta Prasad Gaire, Kengo Hori, Latita Subedi, Anjana Adhikari-Devkota, Tarun Belwal, Keshav Raj Paudel, Niraj Kumar Jha, Sachin Kumar Singh, Dinesh Kumar Chellappan, Philip M. Hansbro, Kamal Dua, Yuki Kurauchi (2021) The science of matcha: Bioactive compounds, analytical techniques and biological properties, in: Trends in Food Science & Technology, Volume 118, Part A, 735-743, ISSN 0924-2244.
(2) Jakubczyk, Karolina, Joanna Kochman, Aleksandra Kwiatkowska, Justyna Kałduńska, Karolina Dec, Dorota Kawczuga, and Katarzyna Janda. 2020. "Antioxidant Properties and Nutritional Composition of Matcha Green Tea" Foods 9, no. 4: 483. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods9040483