Matcha – what is it, how do you prepare it, and what are the health benefits? Learn all about matcha green tea powder in this post!
What is matcha?
Matcha is the finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. Tea plants used to produce matcha are grown in the shade for 3-4 weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins on the leaves are removed before processing. High quality matcha has a slightly sweet, vegetal, grassy taste with a smooth mouthfeel. It’s delicious!
Matcha isn’t brewed in water like regular tea. Instead, the powder is dissolved into hot water. It’s a traditional beverage in Japan, China, and other east Asian countries. In Japan, the traditional tea ceremony focuses on the preparation, serving, and consuming of matcha. The tea ceremony has long been linked with Zen and meditation.
While east Asian countries have consumed matcha for centuries, matcha is now becoming popular in the US. Today, you can purchase matcha to make tea, as well as matcha flavored food items. It’s definitely become it’s own trend in the food space, with products like matcha soft serve, matcha candies, and matcha cakes popping up all over the place.
Quality matters with matcha
One thing to note if you are purchasing matcha is that quality matters. There are several grades of matcha, and ceremonial grade is the highest. Ceremonial grade matcha is always produced in Japan, and is made from younger tea leaves. High quality matcha is vibrant green in color, smells fresh, and has a smooth flavor.
Lower quality matchas, such as culinary grade, are made from older green tea leaves. They’ll likely be more muted green in color and have a less fresh, slightly bitter taste. The higher the quality of matcha, the more expensive it will be.
Matcha health benefits
Matcha has several health benefits, even more so than regular brewed green tea. This is due to the preparation method. When making regular green tea, we steep the leaves in hot water, then discard them. But with matcha, we are actually consuming the entire tea leaf in powdered form, so we get all the nutrients along with it.
Matcha contains a powerful class of antioxidants called catechins. Matcha is particularly high in a specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Many of the health benefits of matcha are linked to this high antioxidant profile, and include:
Matcha contains more caffeine than brewed green tea – about 70 mg per teaspoon. One cup of coffee has about 95 mg of caffeine, for reference. Unlike coffee, the caffeine in matcha is released slowly and more steadily. The caffeine high you get from matcha is more of a sustained alertness, rather than a jolt and a crash you may get from coffee.
How to prepare matcha
If you want to prepare matcha in the traditional way, you’ll need these inexpensive tools:
You really just need the whisk to prepare matcha, as you can use a regular spoon and a small bowl in place of tea spoon and matcha bowl. Here’s how to prepare a delicious cup of matcha:
First, add about 1 tsp of matcha to matcha bowl. If the matcha is very clumpy, sift it into the bowl to break up the clumps.
Heat water to just below boiling, 180-185 degrees F. Boiling water will damage the nutrients and flavor of matcha.
Pour 1-2 oz of hot water over the matcha. In a rapid zig zag, back and forth motion, whisk the matcha into the water until frothy.
Top the whisked matcha off with 8 oz of hot water. You can also add steamed milk to make a matcha latte!
Matcha is my personal favorite morning beverage. I have it every morning! I’m sensitive to caffeine, and I much prefer the calm alertness I get from matcha than the caffeine jitters and anxiety I get from coffee.
If you’ve never tried matcha before, I encourage you to do so! Many cafes now offer matcha lattes on their menus. You can also purchase matcha online. I recommend purchasing ceremonial grade matcha, as it tastes the best for drinking. This is one of my favorite matchas to purchase on Amazon.
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