There are a ton of superfoods to choose from when looking for ways to reduce chronic pain. Ginger, turmeric, white willow, and valerian top the lists of natural pain relievers, but you may be surprised to find matcha can help ease away aches too.
Matcha is a special type of green tea that is grown under shade, harvested early, carefully handpicked, and stone ground. Unlike most teas, the leaves are tender enough to consume as a powder dissolved in liquid. It requires no steeping and is far less bitter than other green or black teas.
Growing the tea plants under shade does more than keep the leaves tended. It preserves the high levels of L-Theanine, catechins, and chlorophyll while preventing the conversion of these nutrients into bitter and less healthy tannins.
L-Theanine is an amino acid that promotes a feeling of calm, focused well-being. It one of the reasons matcha is so prized in Japan, especially by Buddhist monks. This ingredient counteracts the caffeine, allowing for a calm, long-term boost to energy, without the jittery feeling or crash that come with other caffeine sources. Many people notice a sense of focus and purpose after drinking this tea.
The small amount of sunlight that comes through the shade converts some of the L-Theanine into catechins, powerful antioxidants. Catechins are another reason matcha is so prized. These provide most of the health benefits of matcha, with more antioxidant action than any other superfood, even goji, blueberry, acai, and green tea.
Antioxidants tend to be potent anti-inflammatories. This is why whole food diets rich in fresh fruits and vegetables are often suggested for those with chronic pain. It is also why turmeric and ginger are so helpful. Among the many catechins in matcha, one stands out. Matcha contains a high concentration of the catechin EGCG, which dramatically fights free radicals, inflammation, and cellular damage.
Combine this with other antioxidants and the detoxifying effects of chlorophyll, and you have the makings of a pain fighting superfood. It has even shown promise in countering the pain, swelling, and stiffness of rheumatoid arthritis in an interesting recent study.
Grades matter. Ceremonial and culinary grade matchas are very different in benefits and flavor, having to do with when they are harvested. The earlier the harvest, the more L-Theanine and catechins you will find. The later harvests begin to develop tannins, reducing the L-Theanine and catechins as they do so.
Ceremonial (first harvest) has a sweet, mellow flavor with an abundance of L-Theanine and catechins, but ceremonial matcha can be expensive. Some culinary grades come from a fourth or fifth harvest during summer, when the sun is high and strong. These still provide some antioxidant benefits, but no longer taste as sweet. They work well in baking and smoothies, but not as a tea in water or even as a latte in milk or nut milks.
We recommend our Ceremonial Blend, a mix of first (ceremonial) and second (high culinary) harvests. This offers the benefits of ceremonial with the price of a quality culinary. It still works as a tea, in matcha lattes, in baking, and in cooking. It’s the most versatile matcha you will find anywhere. Looking for more ease? Try our Sweet Matcha or Matcha Energy in packets you can take anywhere. They’re both naturally zero-calorie sweetened second harvest (high quality culinary) and they mix well with anything, including cold water.