Matcha: More Than Just a Trend
Matcha, meaning “powdered tea” is formed from grinding down the leaves of green tea to create a powder. This powder is then combined with hot water so that you are consuming the whole leave. This differs from typically green tea, where the leaves are typically steeped into the water and then discarded. Because whole tea leaves are being consumed, the nutrient content of matcha tea is higher than typical green tea and thought to have many health benefits:
It can help to decrease pain from arthritis through its anti-inflammatory effects in the body.
It can decrease risk for heart disease by way of antioxidants helping to reduce blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol.
It promotes a sense of relaxation and calmness. This is attributed to L-theanine, an amino acid in green tea that is thought to have calming effects.
Matcha contains one-third of the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, so it will provide a boost of energy without giving you the shakes or that caffeine crash.
Matcha was brought to Japan, from China, in the 9th century. Since then, it has been a cultural staple to Japan, as well as the tea ceremonies performed with it. Traditional preparation of matcha is also influenced by religions like Zen Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism. Now, you can find matcha everywhere! This antioxidant powerhouse can be found at coffee shops all over and in various food recipes like matcha pancakes. Matcha is trending on social media platforms not only due to its picturesque green hue, but because of the myriad of its proposed health benefits.
Interested in trying matcha? Let’s look at a couple of ways you can prepare it!
How to Prepare Matcha
First, let’s take a look at the different grades of matcha:
Ceremonial: Highest quality, usually reserved for tea ceremonies
Premium: Everyday drinking use
Culinary: Great for baking or incorporating into other foods
Today we will just focus on drinking matcha. There are two traditional styles of matcha preparation, usucha (“thin”) and koicha (“thick.”) Both techniques offer a different, but unique tasting experience. If you have ever ordered a matcha latte, you have had usucha style matcha. Traditional tea ceremonies involve the use of a chawan (matcha bowl), a chashaku (tea scoop), and a chasen (bamboo whisk.) Of course, whatever kitchen tools you own can take the place of these tools.
Koicha is different from usucha style matcha because it creates a syrup like consistency. Beginners tend to not start with koicha because of its stronger, more potent flavor. The quality of matcha determines the flavor, so koicha is usually prepared with high quality matcha. Since it is usually prepared with older tree lea leaves (at least 30 years old), the thick prepared tea allows for the full experience of sweetness and umami flavors.
Sift 1 level teaspoon into a mug or bowl (Or 1.5 heaping chashaku into the chawan)
Add 2oz. hot water to the matcha
Whisk vigorously for 15 seconds in an “M” shape with a chasen (or a whisk!)
Sift 2 teaspoons of the matcha into a mug or bowl (or 4 heaping chashaku into the chawan)
Pour 50ml of hot water into the matcha
Whisk the matcha slowly moving left and right, up and down, and around the bowl
Follow all the usucha instructions
Pour an additional 100ml of your choice of milk into the cup
For an iced latte allow the matcha to cool, add ice to a cup, then pour in the matcha and additional milk
Each preparation style can include sugar or other sweeteners, like honey, as preferred, but I highly recommend enjoying the koicha as is!
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Written by: Kyle Lucht, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern