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Matcha is green tea - yep. But it is a grade of green tea that can only be produced through an exacting process of growing, harvesting, and delicate grinding. Powder the leaves with too much force, and the mild rise in friction can upset the beneficial molecular balance.
If we derived our delicious cabernets and chardonnays from the grape plant's leaves and not its fruit, this is the sort of care we would be giving those leaves.
Is matcha tea thus the fine wine of the tea category?
If all this leafy specialness and delicate plant-trimming are incredibly annoying to contemplate, you’re probably a good candidate for the alert serenity Matcha confers.
So if Matcha is green tea, what makes it Matcha? It’s all about the way the plant is harvested at the pinnacle of its considerable powers.
It's said that the tea bush goes into a kind of hibernation from around October until the first signs of spring, all the while gathering and concentrating its nutritional energies as a foil against the winter cold.
With Spring the tea bush awakens and moves its treasures of nutritional energy to the newly forming buds and leaves, their potency augmented by the increased supply of stored chlorophyll which has been catalyzed by a deliberate shading of the bushes.
In clever partnership with nature, we are able to produce a tea leaf whose innate power is the naturally gathered energy of a living thing marshaling its own forces of survival.
Official Beverage of the Temples
Matcha's ability to combine supreme wakefulness, clarity, and calm brought this verdant powdered tea into the sanctity of the Zen Buddhist temple, where purity and focus were thought to enhance one's search for meaning.
Monks traveling between ancient China and Japan shared the secret, and the plant itself, until eventually Matcha's role as a life-enhancer and boon to conscious living deeply interwove both cultures.
Today, Matcha is well known in the West, her secrets plumbed in the laboratory, her mysteries exposed within the still-deeper mysteries of organic chemistry.
We are just beginning to grasp the rudiments of the complex machinery that gently drives the natural world—beginning to understand that we are that machinery.
Matcha has as much to offer the temple of the body as it does the Zen temple of contemplation – and for much the same reason.
Leonine L-Theanine. Catechins. Turning on The Lights.
Like the rest of us, you weary of hearing the phrase "building blocks of life". Well, here it comes again. L-Theanine is an amino acid; and yes, amino acids are the *sigh* building blocks of life. But this L-Theanine amino acid has the strength of a lion and the purr of a pussycat when it comes to clearing the mental decks and calming your jitters.
L-Theanine is marketed as an over-the-counter sleep and restfulness aid, but is more accurately described as a stress-mitigator. Matcha is a profoundly effective delivery system for L-Theanine.
Relaxed and Alert are not mutually exclusive states of mind. Possibly you've heard this from the guys in the saffron robes.
Catechins are a polyphenol—a plant-based antioxidant metabolite that helps protect flora from environmental toxins, and to self-repair when those natural full body-blows cause damage.
So, catechins. Plants contain catechins for the same reasons we want to, and the catechin content of green tea is a wow. What's that supposed to mean?!
It means your Matcha intake inspires and supports your bodily system's natural defenses against free radicals. Free radicals cause all kinds of misery. This polyphenol is your bestie.
EGCG: Your Neuronal Pal
One particular catechin present in Matcha is Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (nicknamed EGCG, to our great relief). This polyphenol healthy cognitive rightness, as has been demonstrated in laboratory settings. 1
Western science is, understandably, hesitant to trumpet positive results like this until it's understood HOW the phenomenon works.
The mechanisms by which EGCG supports cognitive health are complex—but not as complex as that frustrating search for your car keys. Just sayin'.
Lighting Up the Temple
1,400 years ago the Chinese were already hunkering down around what we today call Matcha; this carefully produced, leaf-based rejuvenator.
Take some delicately prepared leaves from the proper section of a shade-grown bush, pluck them at the plateau of their gathered energies, gently pulverize them into a fine, brilliant green powder, stir into water and sip. Feel the lights come on.
All around the temple.