Not all green teas are made equal.

Matcha is widely regarded as a super green tea that over hundreds of years in Japan, master growers discovered that protecting the plants from direct sunlight increases the plant’s chlorophyll production and restricts photosynthesis in the leaves. Photosynthesis being the conversion of chlorophyll from light into energy (GCSE Science knowledge still in there somewhere!)

By increasing the green chlorophyll pigment, shaded from sunlight, it alters the balance of caffeine, sugars, and antioxidants like flavanols in the leaves. That photosynthesis restriction in the plant also increases L-Theanine which is responsible for positively transforming the effects of caffeine, relaxing the body while keeping the mind focused.

Intrigued by this so-called super-drink, I stumbled across a cold matcha green tea drink that hasn’t long been in the UK and had to get in contact with Janine Marshall, the woman on a mission to educate the country on the health (especially mental health) benefits of replacing coffee with matcha green tea.

Janine & her matcha green tea journey

Night Slides (NS): Hi Janine, thanks for taking the time to chat today. First things first, for those who don’t know who you are, please introduce yourself to our readers.

Janine Marshall (JM): Hi Sally, thanks for having me! I’m the UK CEO of MatchaNOW and a very busy working mum of two beautiful children (my four year old, Ronnie, and our newest addition to the family, five month old Betsy). Betsy is my little business partner and joins me at all my meetings!

NS: A very cute addition to the team, Janine! So how long has MatchaNOW been in the UK for?

JM: I brought MatchaNOW to the UK in 2017 after a good friend of ours came up with the innovative cap idea – which I was blown away with! I invested into the MatchaNOW brand, re-branded the whole design and logo for the UK market and now we’re rapidly growing and gaining traction with our innovative cold matcha tea drink. We’ve just launched in Marks & Spencer which has been a great achievement for us!

NS: That’s great news! Have you always drank matcha green tea then?

JM: I first began drinking matcha about 3-4 years ago. My mum suffers with anxiety and depression and has always managed her illness with eating clean food and utilising exercise into her daily routine. I’m very much into health and wellness for supporting a healthy mind so I’ve been brought up incorporating natural medicine in our lives.

Matcha is known to be extremely anti-anxiety due to it containing the amazing amino acid L-Theanine which is why it really appealed to me. After drinking coffee, my mum can suffer from heart palpitations and it really heightens her anxiety, whereas matcha is the complete opposite. It really does have a calming effect.

I’m definitely susceptible to anxiety as well, so drinking matcha over coffee really helps to reduce this. matcha also has a strong effect for instilling mental focus, clean energy and all the green goodness from the chlorophyll offers a natural way to detox the liver and contributes to feeling wonderful.

 A unique cold matcha tea drink in the UK

NS: So you’ve been drinking matcha green tea for a while now and have clearly experienced the benefits, but what drove you to bottle up cold matcha tea as a drink for the UK?

JM: I was really in awe of the unique cap that our product has and identified there was, at the time, nothing like this within the UK drinks market. The fact that our particular MatchaNOW bottle has the unique cap that holds the matcha separate from the water is really beneficial.

It offer the most convenient on-the-go way to drink this beautiful leaf – Janine Marshall, MatchaNOW

Matcha can deteriorate very quickly once it sits in water for too long, so keeping it separate until you are ready to drink it offers the most convenient on-the-go way to drink this beautiful leaf. Normally, you would have to whisk your matcha powder which is an arduous task to really get an enjoyable drink so MatchaNOW takes out all the effort, hassle free.

NS: It’s definitely unique and such a great idea!

JM: There’s still so much education to offer the UK on matcha and its mental health benefits. Many people believe it’s just a green tea when it’s so much more. I really want to spread my passion for using natural products for mental health; matcha really offers a cleaner caffeine than coffee to help support people with their daily routines without experiencing the lows and crashes that you get from being on that coffee rollercoaster. Whether you need energy at home juggling the kids, mental focus at work, or to boost your training in the gym. It really is a great all-round drink.

NS: What does the next few years hold for MatchaNOW?

JM: Educating people more on the benefits of matcha is my top priority. I would like to be involved in more workshops to help start a discussion about mental health issues and how a cup of green goodness can really help calm the mind.

Also, making the product even greener than it already is! I’m planning to change our plastic bottles to compostable by the end of 2019. I recently started the UK manufacturing and did away with the old shrink-wrap label which was not so eco-friendly and replaced with one that makes the current bottle 100% recyclable. The next step will be to manufacture with bottles made from 100% recycled PET material and then the last phase is bringing into effect the compostable bottle.

The different flavours of cold matcha green tea drink

Mental health benefits of matcha green tea

NS: We read in the news recently that drinking matcha green tea can improve your mental health. Have you noticed a difference in your mental health since switching from coffee to green tea?

JM: Yes! I’m honestly such a pioneer for matcha supporting mental health. Coffee, for me, gives that initial intense buzz but very quickly dissipates and I crash and burn feeling worse than I did before I had it. It dehydrates me and leaves feeling jittery and that anxious, nervous feeling. Matcha on the other hand rehydrates me, instills calm and focused energy and my concentration and productivity levels are heightened to the max.

NS: With your #IQuitCoffee campaign in full swing it must be hard to keep active during busy times?

JM: I make sure I always exercise and keep active, again for positive mental health. Yes life is very busy juggling mamahood and running a business but I make sure I put my mental and physical health first now.

Without this [matcha green tea cold drink] working in tip top condition I’m not going to be productive and offer the best of myself where I’m needed. I take Betsy running with me, use her as my weights to squat with in the gym, too! She loves it and thinks its a fun game; I love running outside first thing in the morning, getting out in the fresh air, it really is another way to calm the mind and puts a positive spring in my step for the rest of the day.

NS: I’m certainly convinced! How do I get a bottle?!

JM: Glad to hear it you won’t look back! So if you’re passing a Marks & Spencer, you can pickup bottles there or you can buy directly on our website

NS: Thanks Janine, all the best for the future with MatchaNOW.

Article references:

A resident of the French Alps village of Chamonix (and a native Kiwi), Sally holds a wealth of sustainable travel experience sharing her musings on about. Sally focuses on the benefits of clean eating and mindfulness through yoga to keeping a healthy mind.

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