When did you last have matcha to lower your cancer risk?

You don't have to know your chasen from your chawan to enjoy the benefits of matcha.

Matcha, also spelled maccha, is a powdered green tea from Japan. It is used in the Japanese tea ceremony.

Matcha's origins date back to Tang Dynasty China (618–907), when green tea was processed into bricks. Tea was prepared by roasting and grinding the brick into a fine powder, soaking the resulting powder in hot water and adding salt. During the Song Dynasty (960–1279), green tea was prepared whipping steam-dried tea powder and hot water in a bowl. It was during this time that Zen monks at the Chan Monastery developed an etiquette for drinking tea. The priest Myoan Eisai brought Rinzai Zen Buddhism--and matcha--to Japan in 1191. Although no longer popular in China by this point in time, matcha quickly became popular with the aristocrats and samurai during the Fourteenth through Sixteenth Centuries, Wikipedia reports.

"Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro," Wikipedia reports. "The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest up to 20 days, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids." When the tea is harvested, the leaves are laid flat to dry and become tencha. Tencha is then de-veined, de-stemmed and ground, traditionally by stone, into powder. It can take one hour to produce 30 grams of matcha.

According to PubMed.gov, matcha has many health benefits.

A 2009 Japanese study conducted by the University of Toyama concluded that matcha protects against liver and kidney damage in type II diabetic rats "by decreases in hepatic glucose, triglyceride, and total cholesterol levels, and by its antioxidant activities." A 1999 Japanese study conducted by Toho University of Medicine found that matcha may slow the growth of malignant bladder tumors in rats. A human study conducted by Japan's Fukuoka Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences found that matcha may protect against bladder cancer.

According to Wikipedia, there are two traditional ways of preparing matcha--thick (koicha) and thin (usucha). Thin matcha is typically made by combining 1.75 grams of matcha with 2 ounces of water. Thick matcha, on the other hand, doubles the matcha while halving the water.

According to Wikipedia, Teavana and MatchaSource.com, when matcha is served in the Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu, sifted matcha is placed in a tea caddy, or chaki. The powder is then scooped by a chashaku, or special matcha spoon, into to a bowl of hot (not boiling) water, or chawan. It is then stirred with a bamboo whisk, or chasen. The tea should have no clumps and should not stick to the side of the bowl.

Matcha is traditionally served without milk, honey or sugar, according to Teavana.

According to the nutritional label of a can of matcha purchased at Teavana, one teaspoon of matcha contains 10 calories, no fat, no cholesterol, no sodium, 3 percent of the Recommended Daily Allowance of potassium, one percent of the RDA of carbohydrates, 4 percent of the RDA of fiber, no sugar, 1 gram of protein, 35 percent of the RDA of Vitamin A, 10 percent of the RDAS of Vitamin C, 2 percent of the RDA of calcium, 4 percent of the RDA of iron, 4 percent of the RDA of Vitamin E, and 2 percent of the RDA of zinc.

Image Source: Wikipedia