For a long time it has been acclaimed that it has beneficial health properties, such as helping to lose weight.
But matcha green tea could be used to treat cancer, according to new research, not just to remove pounds from your stomach.
Laboratory tests revealed that the bitter-tasting tea can keep the cancer cells dormant, canceling out their energy supply and preventing them from "refueling."
Researchers at the University of Salford have described their results as "surprising", while scientists continue to seek cures for cancer.
They evaluated the effects of a matcha extract on breast cancer stem cells, which can be transformed into any tumor cell, divided and renewed.
Laboratory tests revealed that bitter tea can keep latent cancer cells, nullifying their energy supply
The team delved into its effects through the use of metabolic phenotypes, a scientific process that examines how compounds directly impact cells.
Through that, they found that the extract of matcha tea suppresses the metabolism of the mitochondria, considered the source of energy of each cell.
Professor Michael Lisanti, who led the study, revealed that the extract had displaced the cancer cells to an "inactive metabolic state."
He added: "In other words, [matcha] is preventing cells from "refueling" and therefore [cancer cells] be inactive and die. "
The results were published in the scientific journal Aging.
WHAT IS MATCHA TEA?
Matcha tea is a type of green tea in powder form.
It comes from Japan, where it is best known for its use in tea ceremonies.
Matcha, other green teas and normal tea (black) are actually made from the same plant: Camellia sinensis.
Most green teas are made simply by steaming fresh Camellia leaves, but making matcha tea involves a more complex process.
It is made only of the fresh tips of the leaves.
The plants are shaded by the sun at the time when the new buds of the leaves begin to appear and when they are collected.
The tone is said to increase the content of chlorophyll and other nutrients, including the amino acid L-theanine (more information on L-theanine below).
After collecting the best leaves, they are steamed, dried gently in the air and then ground into a fine powder, removing the fibers.
The researchers analyzed how matcha hits cancer cells in hopes of shedding more light on their potential cancer properties.
They discovered evidence that it was strongly affecting & # 39; the signaling pathway of mTOR, which is known to play a critical role in the metabolism of cancer cells.
Matcha extract also weakened the components of a ribosome, which synthesizes most of the proteins required by cells for their survival.
Matcha could, in the future, be used in the same way as rapamycin, a drug that deactivates the mTOR pathway, researchers hope.
Professor Lisanti added: "Matcha green tea is a natural product used as a dietary supplement with great potential for a variety of treatments.
"The effects on human breast cancer cells were very striking, the active ingredients in matcha have a surgical effect on the elimination of certain signaling pathways.
"Our results are consistent with the idea that matcha can have significant therapeutic potential, mediate in the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells."
Professor Lisanti and his colleagues previously discovered that bergamot, the ingredient in Earl Gray tea, kills cancer stem cells.
Matcha is a type of green tea in powder form. It comes from Japan, where it is best known for its use in tea ceremonies.
Martin Ledwick, head of the information nurse at Cancer Research UK, said: "There is no solid evidence that green tea can help treat cancer in patients.
"Although this initial study shows that matcha green tea can kill breast cancer cells grown in the lab, this is very different from drinking tea.
"Other early-stage research suggests that green tea extracts may stop the growth of cancer cells.
"But at the moment the evidence is not strong enough to know for sure and we need a human studies check to prove this."