If you’re looking for a healthy new drink, something to replace your coffee or you’re just curious about it, you have to try Matcha.
I’ve always been a tea person, never really drank coffee. My favorite types have always been green and white (and lately obsessed with Oolongs) which coincidently are the ones who provide the most health benefits. Tea’s demand is increasing by the minute (mainly by young audiences) because of its health benefits, the range of flavors and because it fits perfectly well with keeping a healthy lifestyle. Green tea has lots of benefits such as its antioxidants (help slow down the aging process, great for skin, heart and prevents various sicknesses), accelerates metabolism (which in consequence, helps burn fat and weight loss), between others.
Matcha is a variety of Japanese tea, known to be the ‘superior tea among the green teas’. It is made from Tencha, which are tea leaves grown in the shade and processed by steaming. They will become Gyokuro if they are rolled after drying or used to make Matcha if they are just left to dry. These Tencha leaves are then de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to a fine, bright green, talc-like powder. Its rich color is given because the tea trees are grown in shade. This process forces the plant to produce more chlorophyll, increases the production of amino acids and gives the leaves a very dark, rich shade of green. This is the original Japanese Matcha, but beware that not all ‘Matcha’ tea sold is made from Tencha, you could be having ‘Konacha’ which means generic powdered tea, usually made from Sencha (more intense flavor, not as mellow as Tencha and can have a slight astringent finish).
Ground tea leaves are the only ingredient for Matcha tea, so its high benefits come from the fact that you’re consuming the leaf directly instead of an infusion that comes from it. Besides its wonderful flavor (vegetal taste with sweet aftertaste), it has the following health benefits:
Rich in antioxidants which are beneficial for the skin (slows down aging), removes toxins from our body, helps prevent some types of cancer, cardiovascular deceases and Alzheimer’s desease (1 cup of Matcha has 10 times more antioxidants than a regular cup of green tea).
Generates a relaxation sensation, reduces tension and improves cognition (due to the L-Theanine amino acid which promotes serotonin).
Increases metabolism, improves digestion and has 0 calories! This, together with a healthy routine promotes weight loss.
Increases your energy level for prolonged periods of time (contrary to coffee which gives you a boost of energy), due to the L-Theanine which generates a slower release of caffeine. A regular green tea cup can have 10 times less caffeine than a cup of coffee, but a Matcha cup can have 3 times less.
Rich in fiber, vitamins and chlorophyll.
Matcha’s popularity might be mostly due to it’s health benefits but also because of the flavor and practicality of it’s preparation.
How to prepare Matcha?
If you are a green tea drinker, you’ll probably enjoy a traditional cup of Matcha on its own, but you can use it in smoothies, prepare a hot or cold Matcha latte or even cook/bake with it (you need to make these amazing truffles!). The most important thing when drinking Matcha is to beware not to burn it with boiling water. Here is how to prepare a perfect Matcha cup and some other options:
The perfect Matcha cup
It is traditionally prepared in a small bowl with a wooden whisk. The right temperature to prepare it should be around 175F/80C (hotter water will burn the leaves, generating a bitter flavor). Pour a little water in the bowl and add a tsp of Matcha powder. Whisk until dissolved with circular movements. Add more water and use the whisk to make fast ‘M’ shapes, this will create the froth (the bowl should not be fully filled).
***If you can’t measure the temperature of the water, I recommend pouring 1-2 fingers of cold water to a cup and adding a tsp of Matcha powder (always tea to water, never water to tea!), whisk it until completely dissolved, add the boiling water and whisk again.
Pour 1 tsp of Matcha into a cup filled with about 2 fingers of hot water (175F/80C, not boiling), whisk in circular movements until dissolved and add more water until you reach your desired proportion of water/milk. Whisk again making the “M” movements to make it frothy. Heat desired type of milk (here’s how I make homemade almond milk) and add sugar/sweetener/honey and froth with a frother. Pour the milk into the Matcha preparation.
For a super antioxidant booster, pour into a blender 1/2 cup of berries, 1/2 cup of almond milk, ice cubes and a tsp of Matcha powder. You can also create your own combination of fruit and milk or yoghurt. Matcha also works great with banana, mango, kiwi and ginger.
Matcha is so versatile that you can consume it in various formats. Sign up and Follow Tea Cachai for more Matcha recipes and ideas!