Wouldn’t it be great if you could harness the antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging powers of green tea and put them to work on your skin?
You’ve probably heard about how good green tea is for your health. Studies have shown that it may help reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease, lower blood pressure, balance blood sugar levels, and even help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol levels.
We’ve long known that green tea is good for your skin, too. We’ve already included it in several of our formulas where it helps to protect skin from damaging free radicals.
But there is a certain, special form of green tea that could potentially impart even more benefits on the skin. It’s super popular right now, because it’s so convenient.
It’s called matcha green tea, and because of the unique way in which it’s processed, it’s considered the “super” green tea, capable of transmitting a higher level of all that is good in green tea into your system.
Here’s why that is—and how you can harness these super powers for your anti-aging regimen.
How is Matcha Different from Regular Green Tea?
All tea comes from the Camellia sinensis plant. Green tea is made from leaves that are steamed and dried right after harvest, whereas black tea is made from leaves that are harvested, allowed to wither a bit, and then crushed, torn, rolled, or curled and allowed to age (or “oxidize”) before being dried.
Matcha green tea leaves go through yet another type of process. First, a few weeks before harvesting, the leaves are sheltered from the sun. This slows growth and stimulates the plant to release more chlorophyll into the leaves, creating a rich, green color (and increasing the amount of antioxidants).
The leaves are then picked, steamed to prevent oxidation, and then stone-ground into the green powder that is matcha green tea. This powder can then be combined with hot water to create a cup of tea, or added to smoothies and drinks or even baked goods.
Matcha green tea is the original powder that has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies for over 900 years. In traditional medicine, it was used to cure a number of health issues, and was honored as a miracle elixir for increasing concentration.
What Makes Matcha Special?
What’s exciting about matcha is that is contains a higher concentration of antioxidants. It’s also higher in other useful nutrients like L-theanine, an amino acid that creates the “alert calm” that so many people enjoy from drinking matcha green tea.
The level of nutrients is more concentrated because you’re consuming the entire leaf. When we brew regular green tea, we add water to the leaves, soak for awhile, and then remove the leaves and throw them away. The longer we soak, the more nutrients are transferred from the leaf to the water, but we are still losing some of them when we remove them after soaking.
Matcha green tea allows us to get all of the leaf in all its goodness into our bodies (or onto the skin).
How Potent is Matcha Compared to Regular Green Tea?
How much are we gaining by choosing matcha over regular green tea? Well, it depends on the quality of the product. You do have to be careful—some brands are not as dependable as others. Some manufacturers add sugar and flavorings to their matcha powders, for example, so it’s best to select those that are pure and that are made by companies growing and harvesting their leaves carefully.
Levels of antioxidants and other nutrients vary from batch to batch, but according to a 2003 study, matcha is likely to contain more than regular green tea. Researchers analyzed levels of five catechins and caffeine in matcha compared to a popular green tea. They found that the levels of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG)—one of the most powerful and well-studied compounds in green tea—was at least three times higher in the matcha than in regular green teas.
Age is also likely to have an effect. The longer the tea—whether powdered or put in bags—sits on the shelf, the less EGCG and other powerful nutrients it’s likely to contain. Always look for quality and age when choosing your teas.
There is also some concern that leaves grown in some polluted areas, such as China, may contain lead. Brewed tea is a lower risk because you’re consuming only the water infused with the essence of the leaves, but since you’re consuming the entire leaf with matcha, some caution is wise, particularly for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Choose high quality match grown in rural areas.
What are the Anti-Aging Benefits of Matcha Green Tea?
We have a number of studies on green tea and health. Though results have been mixed, the evidence so far has linked consumption with a potential reduced risk of cancer, faster recovery after workouts, cell strength, and “calm alertness.” It has also been found to boost immunity, and potentially to help people with their weight loss goals.
Green tea has also been associated with anti-aging and it makes sense. All those antioxidants help ward off free radical damage that usually leads to aging.
Researchers believe it’s the antioxidants in the tea that have anti-aging power, but when it comes to skin, green tea provides a number of benefits that can delay the appearance of aging:
- Anti-inflammatory: Green tea has a natural anti-inflammatory property, which means it can help reduce acne breakouts, soothe rosacea, and cut down on skin redness, since all these conditions are associated with inflammation.
- Antioxidants: The powerful antioxidants in green tea (even more in matcha) help fight off free radical damage and protect the skin from environmental assaults that accelerate aging. The result may be reduced fine lines and wrinkles, as well as delayed sagging and bagging.
- Catechins: The catechins in green tea were found in one study to help inhibit the most dangerous kind of skin cancer—melanoma. In fact, one study found that the topical application of green tea before sun exposure reduced inflammation and DNA damage to the skin.
Because of the way green tea works—mostly by quenching free radical damage and taming inflammation—some researchers have suggested it as a powerful addition to sunscreen formulas. (Currently, zinc oxide is considered the best option.)
The effects are so promising for skin that one researcher wrote: “Although more clinical studies are needed, supplementation of skin care products with green tea may have a profound impact on various skin disorders in the years to come.”
Matcha Green Tea Mask
If you’d like to see what green tea can do for your skin, we have a simple way for you to try it.
First, start with a quality matcha green tea product. Matcha is a good option for skin care because it is naturally more potent than regular green tea.
Next, mix a tablespoon or two of your powder with one or more of the following ingredients, depending on what effects you’re looking for:
- Few drops of lemongrass (for cleansing and purifying)
- Tablespoon of rose water and several drops lavender oil (to soothe sensitive skin and shrink pores)
- A tablespoon of honey and yogurt (for deep moisturization and healing)
- One egg (to absorb excess oil, tighten, and tone)
- Water or aloe vera gel (for simple anti-aging effects)
- One-half to one teaspoon coconut oil (to create smooth, soft, radiant skin)
You can always add a few drops water to any of the above to create your preferred consistency.
Apply the mixture to your face, and leave on for 10-15 minutes before rinsing and following with your favorite moisturizer.
Have you tried matcha on your skin? Please share your tips.
Pub Med - Determination of catechins in matcha green tea by micellar electrokinetic chromatography.
Wellness Mama - 7 Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
SF Gate - Healthy Eating: Green Tea Benefits & Aging
Grow Youthful - Green Tea and Heathy Aging
Research Gate - Green Tea and Skin
Smart Skin Care - What green tea can and cannot do for your skin
PMC - Dermato Endocrinology: Skin anti-aging strategies
PubMed - L-theanine, a natural constituent in tea, and its effect on mental state.
Organic Facts - Health Benefits of Matcha Tea
Health - News & Views: 7 Things You Should Know About Matcha
The New York Times - Well: What’s in Your Green Tea