Content provided by the Health & Wellness Team at GBS Benefits
From the Dietitian’s Desk
With Becca Rick, MS, RD
Known tea-drinking traditions date back to Chinese Buddhist monks as they used this practice to focus and calm the mind for meditation. By the 13th century, a tea ceremony was adopted by Japanese society to celebrate cultural traditions.
The Japanese tea ceremony called Chado, “the way of tea,” is a carefully choreographed cultural tradition that joins the minds of the host and guests. There are many serving styles, and the hand movements, aesthetics, and quietude unite to engage the senses of each of the tea drinkers.
Today, Chado offers participants societal respite, a shared moment of calm detached from everyday life.
Chado epitomizes four qualities of Japanese living:
- Wa (harmony) — the desire for reciprocity both in the teahouse and in the world.
- Kei (respect) — self-awareness of individual roles and responsibilities.
- Sei (purity) — preservation of social and spiritual integrity.
- Jaku (elegance and tranquility) — appreciation of the fleeting moment to gain renewal.
Traditionally, matcha (from Japanese ma– ground and cha– tea) is carefully whisked with hot water from the kettle to make a frothy drink. Matcha tea drinkers benefit from its antioxidant properties that come primarily from flavonoids, a type of polyphenol that supports healthy aging and disease prevention.
Unlike other teas, matcha tea leaves are grown in the shade, which increases specific nutritional properties:
- Chlorophyll — contributes bright green color
- L-theanine — amino acid that promotes calmness and slows caffeine absorption
- Phytochemicals — antioxidant-effects found in plants
Matcha’s nutrition profile can help protect against cancer, heart disease, and cognitive decline through neuroprotection and anti-inflammatory effects. Matcha also contains a higher concentration of caffeine than coffee. Matcha’s caffeine is absorbed more slowly because of L-theanine, offering a sustained boost of alertness that is longer-lasting than coffee.
Next time you invite a friend for coffee, give matcha tea (or popsicles) a try instead.