Since the fall is quickly approaching (yay!), I thought I’d let you guys in on a little secret.
Okay, it’s not actually a secret. If I could, I would scream it from the rooftops:
I LOVE MATCHA GREEN TEA!
Maybe it’s basic for me to say that, but I don’t even care. It’s just too good. And so far I am just talking about the flavor. I haven’t even mentioned the health benefits yet.
Oh, you thought matcha was just some trendy green drink you get at Starbucks? Think again, friend. Prepare to have your mind b-l-o-w-n.
A brief history…
Matcha has been a Japanese tradition for thousands of years. However, it rose in popularity in the West much more recently. You’ve probably seen some restaurants and coffee shops embracing the trend by adding matcha lattes and matcha-flavored pastries to their menu.
Matcha is unique in the way that it is grown, harvested, and prepared. During the last couple of weeks it is growing, the plant is shaded. This does a couple of things: it slows the growth of the plant by preventing direct contact with sunlight; it causes a greater concentration of chlorophyll in the leaf; it increases the levels of an amino acid called L-theanine, which we’ll get into the benefits of later.
The leaves are then dried and stone ground into the green powder we know as matcha!
Matcha has also been touted for its numerous health benefits. Since the powder contains the entire leaf, it has been found to have more nutritional benefits when compared to conventional green tea.
Let’s look over just a few of the health benefits that make me love this tea:
1. Matcha is high in catechins.
Catechins act as antioxidants in the body, which help protect your cells against damage from free radicals. Free radicals are unstable atoms that are produced as a result of natural processes in our body, such as metabolism. They can also be generated by exposure to smoking, air pollution, and pesticides.
2. It has less caffeine than coffee, but releases slower.
Matcha may not have as much caffeine as coffee, but for me I enjoy this because I still get a boost of energy without the jitters! I don’t get the “buzzed” feeling that I get from coffee, but am still able to focus better.
3. It contains the amino acid L-theanine.
L-theanine is an amino acid that is often found in green or black tea. It is known for its calming effects. According to Healthline, “L-theanine increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, which has anti-anxiety effects. It also increases dopamine and the production of alpha waves in the brain.”
So you can see how, besides the delicious “grassy” (as my husband calls it…) taste of matcha, the health benefits make it appealing as well!
How to Properly Prepare Matcha
Now, on to the fun part! How to properly prepare matcha green tea.
I did end up doing a fair amount of research for this part, because I wanted to make sure that I was as accurate as possible! Tea is not just a fun drink, but is an important part of many cultural traditions around the world; in this case, Japan. I wanted to be sure to respect the ancient tradition that is matcha making, so I hope that is reflected here. 🙂
It should be noted that there are a few different ways to prepare matcha. There is the standard method, where you whisk one teaspoon of sifted matcha powder into 2 oz of just-below-boiling hot water. Then there is the thin method. In this method, between half to one teaspoon of sifted matcha is whisked into 3-4 oz of just-below-boiling hot water. The last method is referred to as “thick,” and is prepared by using 2 teaspoons of sifted matcha with just 1 oz of just-below-boiling water.
To whisk properly, you would ideally have a bamboo whisk, although a regular whisk can work just fine. You whisk vigorously in a sideways motion until the matcha is frothy. Some sources I found suggested adding a small amount of water to the matcha powder first, and whisking it to create a paste, then adding the remaining water and whisking some more until a froth forms.
Now regarding the temperature of the water. I mentioned above that the water needs to be just below boiling hot. This is very important, because if you burn the tea it will become very bitter and will not taste as good. One source I read said the ideal temperature is around 158°F, which is a good bit below water’s boiling point of 212°F.
Below I have links to all the tools you’ll need to make a delicious cup o’ matcha. You can sip confidently, knowing that along with a subtle boost in energy, you are also getting plant-powered awesomeness.
More with Matcha
You can do much more than just drink matcha–you can add it into smoothies, bake with it, or even make these no-bake energy bites (one of my go-to easy snacks!).