From ice-cream flavours to biscuits, the matchaflavour has become the latest fad in the beverage and dessert industry. The flavour isn't everyone's cup of tea, but it's rising popularity does warrant a closer look at the classic matcha green tea and its health benefits.

What is Matcha green tea? How much does it cost?

Right off the bat, anything matcha flavoured is unorthodox in appearance and taste - such are many things from Japan. But don't let that fool you: matcha is a green tea powder that has been finely ground from tea leaves and has seen massive popularity in the west for its vast health benefits and taste (too many).

In Japan, matcha green tea was always a staple in tea ceremonies and usually consisted of "ceremonial grade" matcha powder that uses younger leaves and presents a subtler flavour. This form of matcha is the highest quality available in the market and has been known to range between USD$100 (BDT 8449) to USD$140 (BDT 11,884) per 100g. Price conversion rate: USD$1@ BDT 84.89.

"Premium" grade lives up to its namesake and offers high-end powder from carefully selected tea leaves that range slightly lower, at USD$50 (BDT 4244) to USD$80 (BDT 6791) per 100g. The most commonly used form of matcha powder is the "Culinary" grade that costs USD$40 (BDT 3395) and below per 100g. Price conversion rate: USD$1@ BDT 84.89.

Ultimately, the quality of matcha depends solely on the condition of leaves during harvest. Young healthy leaves with a good amount of exposure to sunlight are considered the best quality, as compared to mass-grown leaves that are grown in non-Japanese climates.

If you want to examine the quality of your matcha powder more closely, the colour and texture both play an important role. The more vibrant the green, the better; as it indicates the ripe young age of leaves and rich chlorophyll content before harvest. In Japan, Matcha is traditionally whisked by hand, but mass produced matcha brands may avoid this process to make the tea more accessible with varying quality.

Key health benefits of Matcha green tea?

The health benefits of matcha must have been impressive enough to gain worldwide popularity - and it is!

Rich source of anti-oxidants

One of the biggest pluses of drinking matcha green tea is its high antioxidant content. All-natural, the plant is a rich source of catechins which is responsible for storing the nutrients. Needless to say, most teas boast antioxidants, but few are packed with as much as this one. It helps reduce the risk of certain cancers, heart diseases and reduces cell damage from oxidation.

Detoxes the body-organs

Matcha also serves as one of the best detox options in the market; playing an integral role in metabolizing drugs, absorbing nutrients and ridding the body of toxins. In addition to all of this, studies have shown that it protects the liver's health to a certain extent. The general improvement on the body's regular functions can accredit the correlation of tea to general wellness. Matcha excels in this and packs far more pure content which partially explains its immense popularity.

Enhances brain functions

Surveys have also shown that matcha is an excellent source of brain function enhancement. Specific improvements include better reaction time, memory and attention. It is also worth noting that matcha contains more caffeine than other green tea options. Unlike regular forms of caffeine, matcha contains a compound called L-theanine, which helps give the same alertness as regular caffeine, but doesn't come with the same kind of crash, which is a huge plus. Do note that it only helps when matcha is consumed moderately.

Improves metabolism power

Lastly, matcha has been shown to improve weight loss through increasing the body's metabolism. A study has shown that the tea can assist with burning up to 17% of body fat through moderate exercise. Matcha green tea is the purest of its form, so matcha lattes and matcha related candies will not provide the same health benefits.

Matcha v regular green teas

Is matcha better than other green teas? It is important to first clarify that not all green tea leaves that are finely ground are matcha. Although both stem from the Camellia Sinensis plant, the methods of preparation are radically different. While other green teas are generally placed in teabags and traditionally boiled in kettles, matcha is either whisked by hand or with an electric frother. This allows consumers to absorb the nutrients of the leaves directly, rather than through its essence from boiled water.

The tastes are also drastically different due to these processes. Traditional green tea is often depicted as light, refreshing and subtle in taste while matcha is far richer and potent. Different types of green tea leaves have had nutty and fruity notes - giving consumers a more diverse range of flavours, while matcha offers less diversity. To get rid of the bitterness, many companies have sun-dried and pan-fried the green tea leaves beforehand to remove any bitter taste when boiled. Despite matcha having less variety in this aspect, its taste is truly one of a kind and has been easily identified as a dominant flavour in the beverage and dessert culture.

With its astounding variety of benefits, matcha's diverse range of health benefits make it an enticing option as the go-to tea, if not for the taste, at least for its impressive plethora of health benefits.

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