Matcha Green Tea: Fat Burning from Ceremony to Smoothie?

Awhile ago, I watched Oprah’s favorite doctor, Dr. Oz, discuss the weight loss benefits of matcha tea on his TV show. It made me wonder what the researchers say. So a quick Google Scholar search for “matcha weight loss” revealed a suite of studies on the topic supporting this healthy claim as well as other interesting findings, such as this:
Matcha, a Powdered Green Tea, Ameliorates the Progression of Renal and Hepatic Damage in Type 2 Diabetic OLETF Rats (Journal of Medicinal Food. Volume: 12 Issue 4: September 7, 2009).

Matcha green tea
Matcha green tea

Due to its finely ground powdered form, when drinking matcha, you’re actually ingesting the leaves! Many think this boosts your antioxidant intake over drinking regular green tea extractions, where you steep the leaves then strain them from the beverage. The major polyphenols are primarily flavonoids that assist in weight loss & and boosted metabolism include:

  • catechins
  • proanthocyanidins
  • epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)

Over the past 5+ years, we’ve seen a boost in green tea shakes and smoothies made with matcha tea in popular food and beverage chains, often advertized with a health slant. Although tasty, you’ve got to wonder if drinking a smoothie with a teaspoon of matcha tea is really going to help you lose weight.  Can the health benefits of this unique green tea powder outweigh (no pun intended) the calories from the tasty green tea dessert beverages?

I didn’t see any research on this, but the answer is clear. The additional calories from the milk, yogurt, sugar, and whipped cream in “green tea” smoothies are not insubstantial compared to drinking tea with just water. If you really want to slim down, drinking matcha in the traditional manner, simply whisked in hot water, or cold brewed in cold water is clearly the way to go. But if weight management is not a focus and you’re just going for tasty – then hell – try some green tea ice cream or green tea mochi, which are also made with matcha and taste fantastic!

A bit on the historical background of this fine green tea powder… Although green tea powder originated in China, matcha tea as we know it and the tradition of its whisked preparation was made popular by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks, after migrating to Japan in 1911  –  according to good old wikipedia. The official Zen Buddhist tea ceremony is a ritualistic method of tea preparation that involves a bamboo whisk (chasen), a bowl (chawan), a narrow hooked spoon (chashaku), precise movements, and fresh matcha green tea powder of course!

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