THE MATCHA MADNESS Posted on 25 Aug 23:49 , 0 comments

Matcha is simply known as finely ground-powdered green tea originating in China and reaching Japan to be used in traditional tea ceremonies. With matcha, one actually consumes the green tea leaves themselves as opposed to drinking green tea leaves, which are brewed and infused in hot water then discarded. Ingesting whole leaves implies that you are exposing your body to higher doses of antioxidants, specifically catechins, which matcha is so famously known for. Catechins are a type of plant antioxidants that have been associated with numerous health benefits such as protection against cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure to name a few. 

Despite research reporting such benefits, studies remain to be inconclusive. For this reason, health claims regarding the use of matcha have not been approved by regulatory authorities such as the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). By saying that though, celebrities and food bloggers alike continue to promote this “magical” green powder as an essential addition to our diets with an endless list of health claims, which of course, includes weight loss. 

Now I am definitely not opposed to trying and incorporating new things into our diets as long as the public is fully aware that individual endorsements and food companies tend to capitalise on consumer vulnerability and lack of knowledge. Furthermore, the addition of matcha to foods such as brownies, lattes and muffins does not transform them into a health food. If anything, it dilutes matcha’s benefits significantly when compared to a good brewed cuppa. 

Buying  matcha also comes with a price! Pure, high quality matcha is expensive where prices can go up 50-100 CHF for 30-50g. Poor quality products also exist in the form of a powdered ready-to-drink mix with a lower price tag, however, ingredients such as milk powder, sugar or sweetener are normally added. This in turn, becomes a product I wouldn’t normally recommend. 

So what’s the verdict? Do we board the matcha train or do we simply wave at the passing trend until it disappears into the horizon? Personally, I wouldn’t mind giving it a try for non-other than being a curious foodie rather than a desperate seeker of wellness. One has to note though that due to its caffeine and possible medium to high lead content, it is not a beverage to consume freely in large amounts. It is also a beverage that pregnant and breastfeeding women should be cautious of and children should stay away from. 

Excerpt from Nutrition A-Z, Sandra Mikhail, Accredited Practising Dietitian & Nutrition Columnist in Switzerland.