It’s hard to imagine that a beverage, or anything else for that matter, would actually help anyone to meditate, but the entire history of matcha centers around staying awake during meditation (see "The Story of Matcha")
Meditation can definitely help us to become more wakeful/mindful during the day; it’s a great way to train yourself how to experience the present moment, and how to bring yourself back whenever you find yourself (quite involuntarily) thinking excessively about the past or about the future. The only thing that gets you there is relentless practice, like everything else. This is especially true with cooking; the more you do it, the more enjoyable it becomes, and — usually — the tastier it gets.
Then again, in cooking, there are certain “tricks” one can employ to more or less instantly and dramatically improve your food. Using great salt judiciously is a wonderful and proven way improve your cooking, as is the addition of copious quantities of fresh herbs. You could go to culinary school and learn a lot more about cooking, but a two-minute primer on good salt and herbs will launch you into the upper tiers of good cooks the moment you try it.
In a similar sense, many of the benefits of meditation take many years to manifest, but, there are similar “tricks” one can use during meditation that can really help. If you’ve come to meditation for all of the usual reasons:
- to reduce stress, anxiety, muscle tension, or high blood pressure
- to relieve various types of pain, physical and otherwise
- to increase peace of mind and overall happiness
- to improve our concentrative abilities
then why not employ whatever works? Drinking a thick cup of matcha before a meditation (or yoga) session really does “jumpstart” a session like nothing else. You’re more at ease, less jittery, can concentrate better, and can just be “in the moment” without a lot of mental distraction.
At least part of the explanation of matcha’s role in this interesting state of mind is the very high concentration of a certain amino acid called L-theanine, which has been shown to reduce physiological and psychological stresses, in matcha. L-theanine also improves cognition and mood in a synergistic manner with caffeine, as we talked about in matcha and caffeine, and promotes alpha wave production in the brain. Which is pretty much what meditation does. This is why we sometimes refer to matcha as “liquid meditation.”
Try a cup sometime before a session. We’re betting you’ll really like it. Try it before a yoga session too — it seems to make the body relax in all the right ways.