Once exclusively associated with the elite samurai and aristocratic classes of ancient China and Japan, Camellia sinensis (a.k.a. matcha) has regained immense popularity over the course of the last century, when the rest of the world became interested in its many science-backed health benefits.
Building on the centuries-old legacy of matcha globally, our new ceremonial matcha is grown on an organic, regenerative farm in Japan and produced in small batches. Each leaf is handpicked with the utmost care and then meticulously stone-ground to order. The result is an exquisite powder with a vibrant, velvety texture. It’s seriously one of the best matchas we’ve ever laid our lips on.
If you walk into a coffee shop and the matcha they serve you doesn’t have rich and bright emerald hues, it’s likely not Ceremonial Grade. In simple terms, there are two main types or “grades” of matcha: Ceremonial and Culinary. The biggest difference between these two is the season during which the tea leaves are harvested, which determines the distinct characteristics and intended preparations of the matcha, stewarded with centuries-old purpose by Japanese tea farmers.
Ceremonial Grade matcha tea leaves are generally considered of a higher quality, and are imbued with a deeper shade of green that comes from the higher chlorophyll concentration found in younger tea leaves. In the case of Culinary Grade matcha, the subtler color palette is the result of older tea leaves that have spent longer in the sun, thereby darkening in the prolonged exposure periods.
With a sweeter taste and often a higher price tag, Ceremonial Grade matcha is highly valued for ceremonial purposes, as its name suggests. Alternatively, Culinary Grade matcha is used in cooking and baking, and in modern cafés it’s sometimes preferred for lattes and other milk-based drinks.
While the health benefits are relatively similar for most commercially available varieties, Ceremonial Grade matcha has a higher caffeine and L-theanine content (scroll down for more on that). On the other hand, Culinary Grade matcha often contains slightly higher antioxidant cachetin nutritional values. Tea purists tend to gravitate towards Ceremonial Grade matcha, which are cultivated during the first harvest season or Ichibancha, meaning “first tea”. During the second and third harvest seasons—Nibancha, “second tea”, and Sanbancha, “third tea”, respectively—the older tea leaves are picked, producing more bitter notes and muted pigments for Culinary Grade matcha.
Camellia sinensis contains the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes the production of alpha brain waves that induce relaxation (like cacao). Both powerhouses are often associated with energy, when in fact they can help us calm down and decompress the nervous system. And that’s not all…
Boosts Brain Waves
Other than being a powerful antioxidant, matcha contains the amino acid L-theanine, which promotes the production of alpha waves in the brain, in turn inducing relaxation. Alpha brain waves are associated with a meditative state, igniting crystalline clarity and increased receptivity. In clinical trials, alpha, theta, and beta brain waves were all found to increase within 30 minutes to 1 hour of consuming green and black tea, with green tea specifically augmenting alertness, attention, and overall cognitive function.
A Daily Dose of Dopamine
A boost in dopamine production is another result of L-theanine, which helps improve memory and may increase concentration and mood. In research published in the academic journal Nutrients, the results of a study in search of safer natural alternatives to pharmaceutical antidepressants showed promising results for matcha tea powder as an anti-anxiety and dopaminergic enhancing ally for the improvement of depression. Interestingly, the mice in the study undergoing social isolation stress experienced the antidepressant-like effect of matcha “mediated by the activation of the dopamine D1 receptor,” according to the researchers. They concluded there is “strong evidence that matcha improves mood and mental health, depending on the individual’s mental states.”
Levels of serotonin, our body’s natural depression fighter, are also amplified by L-theanine. Hello, happy neurotransmitters! As one of the most concentrated sources nature has to offer for L-theanine, green tea has long been celebrated for its medicinal properties, but did you know that matcha contains up to five times more of the amino acid than any generic green tea, according to research? That’s because matcha is shade-grown for extended periods, while regular green tea is left out in direct sunlight for much longer, thereby diminishing its L-theanine content. Wondering how L-theanine can trigger increased serotonin (and dopamine) production? It encourages the transmission of precursors like tryptophan, which helps the body’s sleep-wake cycle regulator (melatonin) and appetite, sleep, pain, and mood regulator (serotonin), while supporting the liver’s vitamin B3 production needed to metabolize energy and produce DNA.
Looking to improve your mood, increase your energy, reduce inflammation, and boost metabolism (all potential causes of brain fog, by the way)? Allow us to (re)introduce matcha, well known for its antioxidant content and also proven to reduce the risk of dementia and other cognitive impairment in the elderly. Japanese researchers found that elderly patients with mild to severe dementia who supplemented their diets with two to four cups of the tea daily for three months were able to improve their short-term memory and scored higher in dementia assessments. Even for healthy adults, green tea can improve brain function and activity, including sharper memory and other increased cognitive abilities. Further, it can help with weight loss and reduce blood sugar levels.
As you can see, there are numerous science-backed perks of “going green” (drinking matcha and other green teas). Here are a few of our favorite reasons to start sipping matcha daily:
Improve Heart Health
Thanks to matcha’s abundant micronutrients, your heart health may be improved by drinking these carefully cultivated leaves in powdered form. Numerous studies have shown that the plant compound commonly known as EGCG found in matcha is highly supportive of the cardiovascular system, preventing the accumulation of plaque, heart attacks, and other related heart conditions.
Rich in antioxidants, you’ll also benefit from matcha’s ability to decrease oxidative stress and inflammation. The flavonoids contained in matcha and other teas are credited with the ability to reduce inflammation, prevent tooth decay and provide antimicrobial effects, among other benefits.
Lower Your Risk of Cancer
You might enjoy a lower risk of certain types of cancers such as those that impact the prostate and stomach, and some research indicates it could be used in conjunction with chemotherapy to support the efficacy of treatments. EGCG is specifically known for its cancer-fighting properties, and scientists have discovered that matcha contains close to 100 times more EGCG than any other tea!
Increase Metabolism + Lose Weight
Daily matcha consumption has been shown in clinical trials to support modest weight loss. Matcha also increases metabolism. Drinking matcha tea in the morning is a great way to jumpstart your metabolism and kickstart a calorie burning party. Studies have shown that matcha tea can help your body burn fat at a rate of four times faster than average. This isn’t ultra important on its own, but it means matcha can help rid your body of accumulated toxicity, a great benefit for your overall health.
Get Glowing Skin + Anti-Aging Properties
Your skin will thank you if you add matcha to your daily beverage rotation. A healthy glow is associated with matcha consumption and, in some studies, it has even shown positive results when used in topical applications. Matcha promotes anti-aging chemistry. Think of it like a magical elixir for your skin. Because it’s so rich in antioxidants, matcha supports skin health by reducing the inflammation and free radicals that contributed to accelerated aging.
Detoxify Your Liver
Liver detoxification is triggered by an elevated antioxidant capacity in the body, and the phytochemicals found in green tea further support this process. Our ceremonial matcha also contains a high concentration of chlorophyll, a natural detoxifier and liver cleanser. Matcha can detoxify the body; its high levels of chlorophyll make it capable of removing both heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body. Fun fact: chlorophyll is what gives matcha tea its vibrant green color!
Enhance Energy + Endurance
Matcha also increases energy. Like all green teas, matcha naturally contains caffeine. However, the unique combination of other nutrients and that magical amino acid L-theanine (that we clearly can’t stop talking about!) can increase energy and endurance for up to six hours.
Fortify Your Immune System
Matcha contains one special antioxidant in particular: catechins. Think of catechins as the superheroes of antioxidants—not only are they the most potent antioxidants out there, they also have antibiotic properties that fortify your immune system and boost your overall health. Plus, matcha tea is rich in potassium and protein, as well as vitamins A and C (again, like cacao)!