Matcha and mindfulness have a long history with one another, going all the way back to 9th century China. Though Matcha tea is often thought of as being traditionally Japanese, it was actually Chinese Zen monks who originally considered grinding dried green tea leaves into a powder and mixing it directly into water. It didn’t take long for the original producers of matcha tea to discover the benefits it held for the mind and body.
Not only did they find consuming matcha tea an energising yet meditative experience, they also considered the preparation of the drink to hold a certain catharsis. As a result, the preparation of Matcha Green tea became as important to the monks as actually consuming it, and as time went on, the rituals surrounding its preparation became more and more elaborate. It was this dedication to the seemingly simple act of preparing tea that caught the eye of Eisai Myoan.
Myoan is the Japanese Buddhist monk credited with bringing the matcha tea ceremony to Japan. He not only imported green tea seeds from China but wrote a book actively promoting the benefits of matcha. Though he was more concerned by how matcha could be used to help heal the body and keep it healthy, as a Zen Buddhist he was still very much concerned with mindfulness and picked up several ways in which matcha also promoted it.
One of the reasons Japanese Zen Buddhists took to matcha so readily was that they found it helped them concentrate and remain alert during their long hours of mediation. This is partially due to the caffeine content naturally found in Matcha green tea, however, unlike coffee, the caffeine is accompanied by various phytonutrients, antioxidants and amino acids. This combination still provides the mental boost commonly associated with caffeine, but it does not create the same kind of ‘buzz’ that can easily lead to hyperactivity and distraction. On the contrary, the positive mental effects hold at a steady level before slowly decreasing, thereby preventing any sort of ‘crash’.
How Drinking Matcha Can Help With Your Mindfulness
The reason why the Buddhist monks of Feudal Japan found Matcha tea helped them meditate was that in many ways drinking it simulates effects very similar to meditation. We don’t mean this in a pretentious or metaphorical sense, but in a very real way. You see, the caffeine in Matcha tea combined with the other aforementioned elements, but the amino acid ‘L-theanine’ in particular, promote alpha wave production in the brain. Alpha wave activity is also increased through meditation, which is why the combination of the two had such noteworthy effects for the monks.
Nowadays, the closest most of us get to meditation is yoga. Matcha green tea holds many benefits for yoga practitioners, as it helps to enhance their focus and concentrate on each individual element of their movements. As a natural stress-reliever, matcha tea can also make the body feel more relaxed and supple, allowing drinkers to hold positions for longer and achieve greater flexibility.
For the rest of us, the increased mindfulness brought on by simply drinking matcha tea can have numerous effects on our day to day lives. Small as each benefit may be, their effects stack up and in time you will no doubt catch yourself feeling more energised, have an easier time concentrating on specific tasks, and being generally more mindful. These benefits can be extended further by creating something of your own ritual around the preparation and drinking of a cup of matcha. Something as complex as the Japanese Matcha tea ceremony certainly isn’t necessary, but having your own routine can help to make enjoying your daily matcha more of a energising and reflective experience.