What if we told you that there is a drink that is 100% organic, has 0 calories, boosts your metabolism, and increases energy without the caffeine jitters or the crash that usually follows?
May we introduce you to Matcha Green Tea.
Matcha translates to ‘powdered green tea’ in Japanese, where this super drink originates from and has been used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th century.
How is Matcha made?
The best and most expensive Matcha comes from Japan and, more specifically, is mainly produced in the cities of Uji, Nishio, Shizuoka, and Kyushu. Making the Matcha is a complicated and time-consuming process that makes the green tea powder one of the more expensive teas.
Like all tea, Matcha is made from the tea plant Camellia sinensis. However, the plants destined for Matcha are shade-grown, meaning they are kept away from direct sunlight for about three weeks. As the process is called, shading stimulates an overproduction of chlorophyll, which gives the Matcha its unique and bright green color and increases the production of L-Theanine. This amino acid makes us feel calm and stimulated at the same time.
Wait! Don’t Google where to order Matcha just yet; there’s more!
Only the youngest and greenest parts of the plant are harvested, and to retain the natural vivid green color and distinct flavor, the leaves are steamed for 15-20 seconds within 20 hours after being picked.
Post steaming, the leaves are dried and destemmed to filter out only the finest part of the leaves to make Matcha. Unlike other green teas that are rolled into twists and dried, the leaves used to make Matcha are cooled and laid out to dry. At this point, the leaves are called Tencha and are stored in cold storage until they are ready to be packaged.
Grinding the tencha has traditionally been done by a stone mill made from granite or mortar and pestle. However, nowadays, powdering machines are often used to produce a higher volume of Matcha in a shorter amount of time.
What are the different types of Matcha?
Ceremonial Grade: This is the elite of all Matcha. It is made from only the best leaves plucked from the first harvest. This grade is traditionally served whisked just with hot water and not made with other sweeteners or additives such as milk.
Latte Grade: This grade is also ground from standard, first-harvest, high-quality leaves. However, unlike ceremonial, additives such as milk are necessary to balance the strong and slightly bitter taste. Latte grade is also a great choice when looking for that vibrant green color when making desserts or drinks. Many recommend starting with this grade if you are ready to begin your Matcha tea journey.
Culinary Grade: This grade is generally made from the 2nd or 3rd harvest, although higher quality brands tend only to use the 2nd harvest. This grade is excellent for cooking and baking, adding a balanced palate of both vegetal and earthy with a sweet, nutty finish flavor profile. Culinary grade is also the perfect addition to your smoothies.
What are the health benefits of Matcha?
Unlike other teas in which the tea is steeped in hot water and then discarded, leaving only flavored water with Matcha, the entire leaf, albeit in powdered form, dissolves into the hot water allowing the drinker to reap all the health benefits from the many nutrients packed in the green liquid gold.
Antioxidants: Matcha is high in an antioxidant called EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate), which helps prevent cell damage, lowers your risk of several chronic diseases, and is believed to have cancer-fighting effects on the body.
Energy: Although there is 50% less caffeine than a cup of coffee, the 25 mg of caffeine in Matcha provides a steady flow of energy, and coupled with those great mentioned earlier, you will feel alert, aware, and focused. It now seems obvious why many people drink Matcha before a workout. Studies show that after about eight weeks of drinking Matcha daily, especially if consumed before and after your workout, your endurance will improve as much as 20%-25%!
Weight Loss: Unlike diet fads or pills, Matcha green tea can deliver on the promises that the others can not deliver! [We wanted to use the word liars, but this blog is all about the love). Matcha has zero calories, and if you drink 3-4 servings of Matcha a day, studies found that it boosts the metabolism and increases the rate that calories are burned. “Waiter, I’ll take some of that green powder liquid, please.”
Other ways to drink Matcha
Here you’ll find some great Matcha recipes – for drinks and desserts. Here are some of our favorites!
Iced Matcha (Cold Brew Matcha) – This one here is for the Matcha purist out there. The only ingredients are cold water, Matcha, and ice. Fill a cup with ice and add ¾ cup of cold water (filtered is best). In an air-tight container (water bottles work amazingly!), add ½ of cold water and one teaspoon of Matcha. Then SHAKE SHAKE SHAKE for about 20 seconds. Pour this mixture into your iced water and enjoy!
Matcha Latte – This tasty and aesthetically pleasing beverage is easy to make without any fancy tools. The ingredients are milk, ice, Matcha, honey, cold filtered water, and an air-tight container. Combine milk and honey in an air-tight container or cocktail shaker. Shake! Pour this mixture into a cup. Rinse out the cocktail shaker and add water and Matcha and shake! Slowly pour the Matcha into the glass with milk, directly over the ice to get a nice clean layered look. , Stir before drinking.
If you are more of an order-and-pick-up drinker, do not fret! Starbucks, Mcdonald’s, and even Dunkin Donuts have a version of the green-colored drink for your enjoyment. Just beware that the Matcha used by these stores is not high grade and is mainly made with sugar. Green sugar, yum!
Mixed drinks: Matcha and alcohol
Since Matcha is the superfood that everyone’s talking about, it is no surprise that many creative bartenders or mixologists have jumped on this green powdered bandwagon. The Eater put out an article in 2015 showcasing different cities and their version of a Matcha cocktail.
But is mixing Matcha and alcohol a good idea?
Studies show that co-ingestion of alcohol and caffeine reduces the feeling of being intoxicated since the caffeine causes a fake sense of alertness and stimulation and will cause an increase in alcohol consumption.
So whether you are spending $20 – $50 on high-quality Matcha for your health or enjoy being part of the in-crowd holding a green-colored liquid, there is a reason that there is much talk about Matcha!