By now, we’ve all heard about the health benefits of green tea. Our beloved standard green tea may have to move over, though, to make room for the latest beverage that is trending nationwide. Enter “matcha tea.”
What the #!&% is matcha tea, anyway?
Literally translated, matcha means “powdered tea.” When making traditional green tea, the components that make up the tea are collected from the leaves and infused into hot water. The leaves are then discarded. Herein lies one of the main differences with matcha tea! When you make a cup of matcha tea, you’re actually drinking the finely powdered leaves.
So why is it pricey?
Well, cuz it’s worth it! And it’s grown, harvested, and prepared in a special way. With matcha, the tea plants are covered with shade cloths prior to harvesting. This practice allows the plant to grow leaves with a better texture and flavor. When ready, the leaves are harvested by hand and steamed briefly to prevent fermentation. They are then dried and placed in cold storage to age. This cold treatment deepens the flavor. The fine powder of matcha tea is then obtained when the dried leaves are stone-ground.
So how do I make it?
Traditional Japanese tea ceremonies focus around the preparation of matcha. This practice has been customarily associated with Zen, which explains one reason for its rise in popularity. As the practice of meditation becomes more mainstream, so does the use of matcha tea.
To prepare a serving of matcha tea the traditional way (which really, you should do), do this:
- heat spring or filtered water just to boiling
- use a small sifter to sift 1-2 tsp of matcha powder into a tea bowl or cup
- add 2 oz. hot water
- use a bamboo whisk to vigorously whisk the liquid in a zig-zag motion until the tea is frothy
- enjoy your matcha tea!
What’s really in it for me?
Matcha is advertised as a more potent source of nutrients than traditionally steeped tea because it is made from a high-quality tea, and because the whole leaves are used in making the brew. Matcha is rich in antioxidants that are reported to help protect against heart disease and cancer. It is linked to better regulation of blood sugar, reduction in blood pressure, and anti-aging effects. It has also been shown to boost metabolism aiding in weight loss.
Matcha does contain caffeine, and because you are using the whole leaf, one serving may provide up to three times as much caffeine as a cup of steeped tea, or about the amount of a cup of brewed coffee. Matcha drinkers report that matcha creates an “ alert calm,” as compared to the caffeine rush from coffee. This is the result of a natural substance in the tea, called I-theanine, which provides relaxation without drowsiness.
Other health benefits attributed to matcha tea include:
- contains high levels of antioxidants, including EGCg
- burns calories by boosting metabolism
- detoxes your body naturally and effectively
- relaxes the body and calms the mind
- contains vitamins, chlorophyll, and fiber
- aids in focusing the mind and enhances the mood
- includes selenium, chromium, vitamin C, zinc and magnesium
- lowers blood sugar and cholesterol
- helps prevent some diseases
Bottom line? Drink up, it’s good for your health.
So, what do you think? Is Matcha tea for you?
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