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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Monday, April 15, 2024

Weekly Wellness: Matcha Madness

Discussing the bright green beverage which has taken over social media.

Graphic for Katherine Pflieger's column "Weekly Wellness"

Graphic by Molly Sullivan

There’s no question that matcha has grown in popularity exponentially over the past few years. The bright green beverages appear all over social media pages, usually held by an influencer with a slicked-back ponytail dressed in some form of athleisure.

Even Emma Chamberlain's popular coffee brand, Chamberlain Coffee, has begun to produce its own matcha powder in multiple flavors. But is this highly popularized drink worth all the buzz and deserving of the switch from coffee?

To begin this column, I have to admit something upfront.

I, for one, am obsessed with matcha. The matcha whisk in my dorm was one of my first purchases in Medford, and I have a bumper sticker that says, “Honk if you love matcha.” I obviously assume all noises directed at me while driving are due to the large number of matcha enthusiasts and not my driving abilities.

While some may claim the drink tastes like grass, I hope to encourage people to give it another chance (and maybe try a different recipe) because of the benefits of this 1000-year-old beverage.  

Originating in China and brought to Japan in the 1100s, matcha was used for ritual purposes in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony, a practice that still continues today. The powder is made from the shade-grown Camellia sinensis plant (the same plant that produces green tea) and is traditionally prepared by whisking the powder and hot water together with a bamboo whisk, also known as a chasen.

Here are some reasons why matcha might be worth a try for your health:

1. Matcha is rich in antioxidants.

Containing high levels of catechins, matcha and its antioxidants may help lower oxidative stress, prevent inflammation and lower the risk of cancer.  

2. Matcha provides an energy boost and reduces stress.

With less caffeine than a cup of coffee and a high dose of L-theanine (an amino acid linked to stress reduction), matcha can provide a boost of energy without the anxiety and jitters some experience after a cup of coffee.

3. Matcha may improve brain function.

Studies show that matcha could help boost brain function, exemplified by improvements in reaction time and memory in participants who received the drink over those who received the placebo.

So before you become discouraged by its color or its grass-related criticism, give matcha a try and reap the benefits of this traditional beverage.

My personal matcha recipe: Whisk 1 teaspoon of ceremonial-grade matcha with hot water, add to ice with about eight to 10 ounces of milk (I use almond or oat) and a splash of creamer for added sweetness (Nutpods is my favorite).

My favorite matcha brands: Mighty Leaf, Alfred’s and Golde.

Matcha recommendation near Tufts: Tasty Cafe and Kitchen.