Most of us have heard of matcha as a beverage consumed widely throughout Asia. You may have even heard of its amazing health benefits in contributing to weight loss, detoxification, and anti-aging. But what is it really? And what can it do for your poor stressed adrenals?
For those who are severely stressed and suffering from major HPA dysfunction, giving up caffeine entirely is likely to be the best choice. However, for those who are stressed but have not yet reached late stage adrenal fatigue, matcha can be an excellent option.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha isn’t just green tea. It’s a fine powder made from the entire leaf of the tree, grown and processed in a way that sets it apart from ordinary green tea.
First, the green tea plants are “shade-grown” several weeks before harvesting (this simply means they’re kept in the shade!). Shade-growing allows the plants to produce higher amounts of theanine and caffeine, which contributes to the powerful health benefits when the tea is brewed. This process also stimulates the production of chlorophyll in the leaves of the plant, boosting the concentration to much higher levels than ordinary green tea. The growth of the plant is slowed, which means the leaves stay young and fresh for longer.
When ready to harvest, only the choicest buds are picked, and all the work is done by hand. The leaves are laid out flat to dry so that they will crumble up easily and become powder. This form of green tea is known as ‘tencha’. The veins and stems are carefully removed from the tea before it is stoneground into a bright green powder. Even the grinding process is special – care is taken to prevent the mill stones from becoming too warm and destroying the aroma in the leaves. Grinding just 30g of match may take up to an hour!
Why Is Matcha Special?
Because matcha is the powdered form of the tea leaf, you’re drinking the entire tea leaf and therefore ingesting 100% of its powerful nutrients. Being a powder rather than leaves or tea bags, matcha can be consumed in a variety of ways. Most often is it added to hot water or milk and drunk as a tea, but it can also be used as a flavoring, in baking or in supplements.
The purity of each matcha product is determined by its grade. The very highest grades are the sweetest and have a more intense flavor than lower grades, which may have been harvested later or processed more coarsely.
Why Coffee Can Do More Harm Than Good
Stress is made all the worse by drinking cup after cup of coffee – but that’s exactly what people do when they’re stressed!
Stress activates the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA), a feedback loop that runs between the brain and other organs in the body. This causes the ‘fight or flight’ response to kick in, triggering the adrenal glands to produce cortisol.
Coffee also induces this response!
Studies have shown that drinking coffee throughout the day significantly increases cortisol levels, which is worsened when other stressors (such as work, people, traffic) pop up.
A zap of cortisol can boost our alertness – for a while. When it wears off, we crash. A coffee-induced crash leaves us lethargic, depressed, and exhausted. Of course, that’s when most people reach for another brew.
Unfortunately, the more coffee we drink, the higher our level of tolerance for caffeine – and the more damage to our adrenals!
Why Matcha Is Better For You Than Coffee
One of the most important results of the matcha preparation process is the production of amino acids – in particular, L-theanine. Just 100g of matcha green tea powder can provide 2.41mg of L-theanine, which is around 5 times more than ordinary green tea.
It’s the L-theanine in matcha that makes it a much better choice than coffee – particularly for soothing over-stressed adrenals. Here’s why!
- Crash-Free Calm
L-theanine is hugely beneficial for anyone suffering from stress or adrenal fatigue, thanks to its calming properties. Rather than stimulate your adrenal glands, the L-theanine helps your body remain energized but calm. And there’s no ‘caffeine crash’! Another benefit of L-theanine is its ability to boost your focus and concentration. Sure, coffee will do that for a little while – but the caffeine crash afterwards certainly won’t!
L-theanine also harbors powerful anti-anxiety properties, which makes it a good choice for those who get nervous or stressed easily. Anyone who’s ever had too many cups of coffee will know that ‘jitters’ that an overdose of caffeine can cause. Unlike coffee, the caffeine in matcha promotes concentration and cognitive function without the nervous, jittery energy.
- Stress Reliever
Again, L-theanine steps in to protect you from the nasty effects that stress may have on your mind and body. Studies have shown that the L-theanine in green tea can help to alleviate both psychological and physiological stress. It does this by reducing the effect of the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for switching on our ‘stress’ mode. L-theanine is also thought to inhibit the neurons in the brain that bring on feelings of stress.
- Memory Booster
Although you may think that coffee is helping you to remember things and learn new skills faster, that’s often just the ‘buzz’ you’re running on. When the effects of a coffee stimulation wear off, so too will the information you’ve tried to retain!
The mood-regulating properties of L-Theanine in matcha can help memory function and learning abilities by inducing a state of calm. You’ll function much more smoothly without the constant ‘yo yo-ing’ caused by hits of coffee.
Other Health Benefits Of Matcha Green Tea
We’re constantly exposed to free radicals that can increase our risk of disease and aging. Stress is a major cause of free radicals – and all of us are vulnerable to it. That’s why we need a regular dose of antioxidants to prevent cellular damage.
Incredibly, just one cup of matcha tea is believed to have 10x the antioxidants of regular green tea!
Not only that, but matcha is one of the world’s best sources of an especially powerful antioxidant known as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). The concentration of ECGC in matcha green tea has been measured at 137 times greater than that of other Chinese green tea.
It gets even better. The oxygen radical absorbance capacity of matcha green tea has been found to be 1573 units per serving – twenty times higher than blueberries!
Unlike coffee, matcha is harbors a host of nutrients that can have health benefits for the gut and digestive system. This includes fiber, which aids the passage of food through the body. Matcha also contains chlorophyll, vitamin A and vitamin C, which are all enormously helpful for detoxification and cell renewal.
Mix Up Some Matcha And Go Stress-Free
The incredible health benefits of matcha leave poor old coffee for dead. Switching your daily brew of the black stuff for a mood-boosting, adrenal-soothing cup of green matcha tea could be the best thing you’ll ever do for your body. You’ll notice you feel calmer, less anxious, more productive and, best of all, less stressed!
Have you tried matcha yet? This is just one of the many lifestyle and diet recommendations found in our Adrenal Fatigue Solution program. Check it out, and learn how to get your stress (and health) under control!