Is Fresher Matcha Healthier?
The big reason a lot of people turn to matcha is because of the benefit they hope it will bring to their health. That said, most matcha out there isn't as healthy as it could be! Read on to find out why.
Matcha is healthy for a few different reasons, but the one that gets the most press is its high levels of antioxidants, or catechins, specifically. All tea has these, but with matcha you actually consume the entire tea leaf, instead of only what's extracted in water. The result is way higher levels of antioxidants per cup of matcha than in a similar volume of brewed loose leaf tea.
That said, the reason matcha is so healthy - its powdered form - is also the reason it loses its health benefits faster than loose leaf tea. Antioxidants interact with oxygen over time, causing them to degrade and lose their health benefits. The rate of decline is slower within the relatively enclosed structure of a tea leaf. Even so, there is a noticeable decline in the level of antioxidants in loose-leaf tea over the course of just a few months.
With matcha, the surface area exposed to oxygen is several orders of magnitude greater than that of tea leaves. If the catechins of loose-leaf tea show significant decline in under half a year, then it is reasonable to conclude that this process of degradation occurs more rapidly in matcha. If we are conservative and assume this process is only sped up by one or two months, that still means most matcha you find in the store is significantly degraded.
Effects of international shipping:
This is all without considering the effects of international shipping. Most matcha is shipped to the US via ocean shipping. Here, it is exposed to fluctuations in temperature and humidity. There actually is a study that directly tests the role of humidity on the catechin content in powdered tea - it's not good. Yet another study has demonstrated that temperature, too, will degrade these catechins.
The logical conclusion of all of this is that fresher matcha is, in fact, healthier. Freshly-milled matcha that is milled in the same country in which it is consumed is even better, as it is not subjected to a long and unpredictable ocean voyage.
What about flavor?:
There is yet another consideration, however. People don't just drink matcha because of its benefits. In fact, benefits are not enough to convince the majority of people to drink something that they don't enjoy. Ultimately, the healthiest form of tea is the tea you drink - the tea you do enjoy! That's why flavor needs to be a component of any discussion about health benefits. Freshly milled matcha isn't only healthier, it is smoother, creamier, more aromatic and complex. It doesn't need to be covered up by milk or sweeteners, because it has nothing to hide! In short, it's easy to drink. That, more than anything, is what makes it the healthiest form of matcha.
So, want to start exploring the world of freshly-ground matcha? Check out our great selection here!