Matcha is a superfood from China that's steeped in history. It's more than a North American trend: East Asian countries incorporate matcha in traditional tea ceremonies that encourage participants to slow down and relax.
But even if you don't have time to prepare this powdered green tea in its classic manner, matcha is a viable alternative for your morning cuppa joe. Coffee without the annoying side effects sounds pretty appealing to us and it may just be a matcha made in heaven for you, too.
Matcha is green tea—it's just produced differently. A few weeks before harvesting the tea leaves, manufacturers alter the growing conditions, and the plants receive more shade. This change leads to more chlorophyll production and a vibrantly green hue.
The leaves are finely ground into a caffeine-rich powder that keeps well in airtight containers and is full of antioxidants. Unlike most other teas, matcha powder is mixed right into the cup and not strained away, so you're consuming the powder (and all its benefits) along with the liquid.
Matcha is a brilliant green foamy delight that looks like something Popeye the Sailor Man would enjoy. It tastes like a concentrated green tea and is pleasantly bitter with vegetal hints, a nuttiness, and a savory umami edge.
Different varieties offer different notes, and high-quality matcha tastes good without the addition of sweeteners or flavor enhancers. It is sometimes described as smooth and buttery.
While more research is necessary, there's evidence that matcha can give you a significant nutrition boost for everything from your heart to your brain and skin. For starters, it has polyphenols that aid in digestion and a healthy metabolism. The amino acid L-theanine can assist your immune system, and it helps you mellow while enhancing focus.
The green chlorophyll in matcha is similar to hemoglobin and may improve the quantity and quality of your red blood cells and support detoxing.
There are modest benefits to consuming matcha tea rather than regular green tea. Like green tea, matcha contains catechins or antioxidants that help limit cell damage.
You'll get double or triple the amount of the antioxidant EGCG, which reduces inflammation in the body and can prevent chronic diseases like diabetes.
If you're sensitive to caffeine, you might want to steer clear of matcha, a substance monks have been using to stay awake for devotion for centuries. Use in moderation, because excessive amounts in frequent cups may result in stomach pain.
Premium matcha brands are often tested for lead and pesticides, so stick to established companies if you're concerned about heavy metals.
The options are seemingly endless, even if some offer less in the wellness department. Matcha is best consumed without dairy products for optimal health advantages, but you'll still benefit if there's some milk protein in the mix.
Matcha lattes and smoothies are popular with or without coconut milk. Matcha iced tea is excellent, and you can make all manner of sweet and savory foods, including bread, pies, Eton mess, chocolate truffles, chia pudding, soup, guac, tofu scrambles, soba noodles, and salad dressings. How about some matcha mochi?
How can you tell whether the matcha you're looking at is high quality? The greener the better, although manufacturers may dupe you with food coloring on unlabeled products. Matcha is available in various grades, from ceremonial grade matcha for tea to a less refined culinary grade that works well in foods.
You can expect to pay twice or thrice as much for high-quality ceremonial matcha.
Unopened matcha that's been lying in your cupboard for two years won't harm you, but it won't satisfy you much either. Old matcha loses its flavor, color, and health benefits.
Buy matcha well within its expiration date and store it in a dark, cool part of your pantry. Avoid exposure to strong smells and humidity, and make a point to use up your stash within a few months of purchase.
Matcha's impressive jade color can stain, so be careful with white fabrics. Read the cleaning instructions on your matcha sets to prevent the warping of your utensils. And if you don't have the accessories, hey — it doesn't matcha! You'll do just fine with a regular whisk and teaspoon—the finished product just won't have quite as much creaminess to it.