What is matcha and why is it suddenly everywhere?
In today’s article, we’ll answer that question and show you why matcha’s popular cousin, keto matcha, might just be the healthiest drink on the planet.
Ready? Let’s do it!
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a type of green tea made from pulverized young tea leaves. These plants are shade-grown for their final three weeks before harvest. Under shade, the plants fill up with nutrients and develop a bright green hue. After harvest, the tea leaves are dried and stone-ground into a fine powder.
The resulting powder is whisked into hot water to create the frothy beverage that has been central to Japanese and Buddhist cultures for thousands of years.
Matcha: Healthier than Green Tea?
The bottom line: yes.
How then is matcha so different from green tea?
Think about it like this, says Louise Cheadle, co-author of the Book of Matcha:
“Drinking brewed green tea is a bit like boiling spinach, throwing away the spinach and just drinking the water. You will get some of the nutrients, but you’re throwing away the best bit.”
So not only is matcha grown to pack more nutrients, but you are consuming the whole plant when you drink it.
That’s the magic of matcha.
And the result is compared to green tea, matcha has:
137x the amount of EGCG – a special antioxidant that can fight inflammation and aid in cancer prevention.
3X the levels of caffeine – the energizing and brain-boosting chemical we all know and love from coffee.
- Higher levels of L-theanine, catechins, and flavanols – all unique phytonutrients which as we’ll see later, have powerful health benefits.
The History of Matcha
Matcha use dates back to 8th-century China. Chinese monks discovered the joys of powdered green tea leaves (matcha) and used them to promote a zen state during meditation. To the Chinese, matcha tea was more than a drink, it was an art, akin to poetry.
It was the Japanese Buddhist monk Elsai Myoan who traveled to China in 1180 and brought the plant back to his country, forever altering matcha’s course.
Elsai and his fellow Zen monks used matcha to solve a curious problem: to enter a transcendent state, they needed complete mind and body relaxation. But if they got too relaxed… they fell asleep.
With Matcha, they could achieve a state that was both calm and alert. And for that, they treasured it.
The Japanese Buddhists went on to perfect matcha production and popularize it throughout the country. They hand-picked only the highest quality leaves and stone ground them to perfection with a slow and methodical technique.
The slow, careful production of matcha mirrored how the Japanese learned to consume it. Through the Chado tea ceremony, invented in the 1500s, matcha became an experience – a time for people to gather and connect with one another. The ceremonies lasted hours and sought to instill the virtues of Japanese life to all: harmony (wa), respect (kei), purity (sei) and tranquility (jaku).
Today, matcha is part meditation, part superfood – and its popularity grows by the day.
What is Keto Matcha?
Keto matcha is simply matcha powder mixed with nutritious fats. These fats usually include:
- Grass-fed butter
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
These fats are carefully selected to energize, satiate and promote a ketogenic state. And as we’ll see later, matcha and healthy fat is a potent combination that can defend your health and energize your mind like no other.
The Benefits of Keto Matcha
Read the laundry list of keto matcha’s benefits and you’ll soon want to have one every day. Or two, or three, or four…
Here are 7 of keto matcha’s top health benefits, backed by science:
Immune system boost. Up to 60% of matcha is made up of a powerful antioxidant called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). These compounds fight inflammation, reduce damage from free radicals, and boost our immune system better than common antioxidants like Vitamins C & E.
Cancer prevention. EGCG also has powerful anti-cancer properties. These compounds can stop cancer cells from multiplying and even kill off certain cancer cells. Studies have proven this effect with breast, prostate, and liver cancers.
Heart health. Special antioxidants in matcha called catechins can positively impact cholesterol metabolism and lower blood pressure – two big risk factors for heart disease. One study reported a 26% lower risk of heart attack death for Japanese adults that drank high amounts of green tea (5+ cups per day!).
Weight loss. Matcha speeds up your metabolism and boosts fat burning – up to 17% as reported by this study.
Clean energy. Drink too much coffee, and you’ll quickly feel the energizing effects of caffeine turn to jitters and anxiety. But with matcha, you’ll get a clean, lasting caffeine experience. It’s made possible by the catechins in matcha that bind to caffeine, releasing it over 3-6 hours vs the near-immediate release of coffee.
Promote a calm, relaxed state. Matcha is rich in a special amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine affects your brain in two powerful ways:
The first is by altering your brain chemistry. You have two key signaling molecules in your brain: glutamate and GABA. Glutamate binds to your brain cells and activates them. It’s excitatory. GABA does the opposite – it’s inhibitory – preventing your brain cells from firing.
When your mind is racing and you’re overcome with stress and anxiety, which one do you think you have more of?
Yep, glutamate. And it’s L-theanine that brings these chemicals back into balance – by blocking glutamate and stimulating GABA.
The second is by stimulating your brain wave production. You have billions of neurons in your brain communicating through electricity at this very moment. When your brain is firing in a very specific way, called an alpha rhythm, you feel your most calm and relaxed.
Alpha waves are the same brain patterns seen when you meditate, exercise or even daydream. They are linked to increased creativity and lower levels of depression. And it’s L-theanine that naturally stimulates their production better than any known compound.
- Mood boost. L-theanine increases levels of mood-boosting neurotransmitters in your brain. These are serotonin (the happy chemical), dopamine (the reward chemical), and GABA (the chill chemical). Daily matcha promotes overall mental health as demonstrated in this review of 49 studies.
What’s in Keto Matcha?
Grass is the foundation of a cow’s natural diet – much more than the industrial grains they are commonly fed in food production today. It’s no surprise then that butter from grass-fed cows is much healthier than grain-fed butter. Compared to conventional butter, grass-fed butter is:
Higher in antioxidants and heart-healthy vitamins like Vitamin A, D, E, and K.
Higher in Omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3’s like EPA and DHA are essential for brain and heart function. They are also lacking in the Standard American Diet (SAD).
- A great source of Butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid with anti-inflammatory and metabolic-boosting properties. Butter is a great natural source – after all, butyrate gets its name from the Greek word βούτῡρον, which means butter.
Kerrygold is our go-to option for affordable grass-fed butter. The Irish have been making butter from grass-fed cows for over 5,000 years and if you ask us – it’s the best in the world. Settle for nothing less.
Coconut oil is oil extracted from the meat of a coconut. It has a pleasant, sweet flavor and aroma.
There are over 1,600 studies on the health qualities of coconut oil in animals and humans.
Here's what they show:
Lower inflammation. Coconut oil has been shown to reduce inflammation and even treat arthritis more effectively than standard medications.
Immune system boost. Coconut oil is a powerful antimicrobial, antiviral, and antifungal substance.
Improved digestion. The fats in coconut oil enhance the digestion of fat-soluble vitamins, calcium, and magnesium. One study even showed omega-3 fatty acid digestion was twice as effective when consumed with coconut oil.
- Improve skin health. Coconut oil’s anti-inflammatory and moisturizing properties make it great for skin and hair health.
Many of these health benefits are because of a unique class of fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCT’s). Coconuts have the highest concentration of naturally occurring MCTs.
Why are MCTs the secret weapon of the keto diet? We’ll discuss that next.
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) are a special class of fat that get their name from the length of their carbon chain.
The magic of MCTs comes from how they digest in your body.
Being smaller than most fats found in nature – like those in meat and dairy – MCTs can travel straight your liver and convert to ketones. So while most fats require a 26-step process to generate energy, MCTs require only 3 steps.
This speed is why you might feel energized and mentally sharp after taking MCTs.
MCTs are made from natural sources like coconut and palm. You’ll easily find MCT supplements available as a liquid or powder.
Selecting your Matcha
You’ll find matcha commonly sold in two grades:
Ceremonial Matcha. This is the highest grade – made only from carefully selected plants. Everything from growing to harvesting to processing this matcha is given higher attention to detail. The result? The most exquisite form of matcha you can get – good enough to drink on its own, no sweeteners or additives needed whatsoever. We buy Encha brand on Amazon.
- Culinary Matcha. This lower-grade is characterized by a stronger, more astringent flavor. You’ll also notice a darker green color compared to the brilliant bright green that characterizes ceremonial matcha. This matcha can still be sipped but is often better suited as a mixer for drinks or a cooking ingredient.
Our recommendation is to stick with ceremonial matcha – but even within that, there can be varying levels of flavor and refinement.
Make sure you pay attention to the origin of your matcha too. The highest quality matcha comes from Japan. Matcha from other sources like China or India is generally more processed and lower quality.
And stick to organic matcha if possible. These will have the lowest levels of pesticides, which can be a problem as shown in this report by Greenpeace.
How to Make Keto Matcha At Home
Making your own keto matcha at home does take effort. You’ll need a blender, ceremonial-grade matcha, and all your ketogenic fats: grass-fed butter, coconut oil, MCT oil and a bit of heavy cream.
But this treat is often worth it!
Follow this recipe and you’ll have a perfect keto matcha latte at home, every time.
Keto Matcha combines two of the most powerful health concepts we know of – the millennia-old tradition of drinking green tea with the more recently-discovered ketogenic diet.
The result is a delicious beverage that when consumed regularly, can boost your mind, protect your health and energize your life.
It’s the ultimate keto meditation – a clean latte that will leave you feeling calm, yet energized.
Ben & Brandon
Disclaimer: This website provides general information and discussions about health, nutrition and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or in any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Ben & Brandon are not doctors, registered dieticians or registered nutritionists.