Find Your Zen With Matcha - Is It Worth The Hype?
Matcha green tea powder—which traditional Japanese tea ceremonies (Sadō) are built upon—has seen a surge in popularity in recent years thanks to its reported health benefits and Insta-worthy appeal. So, has regular green tea really met its match(a!)
The best matcha hails from Japan, particularly the southern half of the country. What distinguishes it from how other green teas are grown is that the tea bushes (Camellia sinensis) are covered for several days prior to harvest to shade them from the sunlight. This is done to boost the plants’ chlorophyll levels, which turns the leaves a vibrant shade of green. Once harvested, the leaves are laid out to air dry and then finely milled into a delicate powder. The laborious process required to bring matcha to market is why this version of green tea tea is so much pricier than other teas.
Japanese Zen monks were some of the first to learn about matcha's high concentration of the amino acid L-theanine. That’s because it reduces stress, and promotes a sense of peaceful focus which has long been the perfect aid to meditation. For the average person, matcha is excellent to combat the stresses of daily life; even better, this calming effect does not induce drowsiness but instead a clear and alert mind with greater focus.
The rule of thumb is to look for the greenest matcha, that guarantees tons of antioxidants, polyphenols, and amino-acids which regulates metabolism and cleans your body from the inside out. A healthy body also means healthier cell production, including that of egg and sperm, which means that matcha can also help boost fertility levels.
Unlike a cup of coffee or an energy drink, matcha lets you maintain a steady flow of energy levels after drinking. You won't experience an energy crash one or two hours after drinking a cup of matcha, and unlike coffee and other heavily caffeinated drinks, you won't get the jitters or have to worry about heart palpitations.
Matcha also hosts antibacterial properties which helps cleanse the gums and teeth, while also suppressing the overgrowth of harmful bacteria that causes cavities and gingivitis. Even better, matcha protects skin from free radicals, those unstable oxygen molecules associated with aging, damaged cells, and a lackluster glow. By consuming matcha green tea powder, your skin will maintain a natural, radiant, and healthy glow.
Matcha powder not only has virtually zero calories, and is a wonderful boost to your metabolism, which can aid with maintaining a healthy weight, it also helps protects your heart by naturally lowering cholesterol levels, and can decrease the risk of Cancer.
You can enjoy matcha powder in a smoothie, latte, milkshake, over oats and mixed into yoghurt. Recently, people have been getting super inventive with their matcha intake by including it into pancakes, cheesecakes, waffles, cookies, brownies and even rice crispy cakes, (check out our recipe!)
There are 3 main grades of matcha, ceremonial, premium and culinary. Ceremonial grade is the highest quality matcha powder available. It is created to be used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, so it’s considered more luxury and high-end. It’s made from the youngest matcha tea leaves with the stems and veins removed, leaving only the richest and most nutritious parts of the plant for production. The leaves are stone-ground into an extremely fine texture, which generates a delicate and airy taste.
Premium grade is the kind of matcha you’d throw in your latte or smoothie to get a delicious and nutritious shot of energy. It has a bright green colour and a fine texture, so it breaks up easily in water. Premium matcha is good for everyday tea use because it’s high-quality matcha at a lower price point than ceremonial.
Culinary grade isn’t a lower quality product than the ceremonial grade. It simply has a different flavour profile, and it’s usually more robust and bitter. This means it works better in baked goods. It still retains that characteristic fresh, holistic taste and bright green colour that’s so distinctive to matcha.
Be mindful that it doesn’t last forever. Matcha doesn’t have a particularly long shelf life. Once you open it, use it within 2 months for the best colour and flavour. We recommend buying it in small quantities and storing it in the fridge to preserve freshness.
If you don't whisk the powder before use it can become lumpy, it's advised to whisk the powder with a matcha whisk, and the tasty can be slightly bitter, which is why adding a little natural sugar like, honey or maple syrup can make drinking it even more satisfying.