Matcha has been a trendy drink for quite a few years now and has even been used in culinary treats like donuts, cookies, ice cream, muffins, pudding and much more. It’s everywhere. But what is it? Matcha is actually just a green tea leaf that has been ground into a fine powder. However, it is different from the traditional green tea you purchase in tea bag form. The differences with Matcha plants starts when they are covered with shade cloths before harvesting. This extra step promotes better flavor and texture in the leaves, which are then hand selected, steamed briefly and then dried and aged in cold storage to deepen the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder. The word Matcha actually means “powdered tea”.
When you make a cup of Matcha, you aren’t just steeping the leaves and removing them like you would with traditional teas, you are actually drinking the whole leaves. Because of this, matcha is considered to have more health benefits than regular green tea because the tea leaves are higher quality and more potent. Not only is it rich in vitamins and minerals, but it also contains a high concentration of antioxidants called polyphenols which are said to protect against heart disease and cancer, to help regulate blood pressure and blood sugars and even boost metabolism.
Matcha definitely has caffeine in it, about 3 times the amount of regular steeped green tea. But, because of a natural substance called l-theanine in the matcha, it doesn’t give you a jittery buzz – just a more focused alertness. L-theanine promotes relaxation without drowsiness, increases focus and attention and has even been thought to increase immunity. I actually get a perfect dose of this wonderful substance in my favorite natural supplement, Edge when I need it and don’t have time/or want to make a Matcha Latte.
So, let’s make some! Add a teaspoon of the powder to hot water and whisk. Traditionally, the japanese whisk the tea with a bamboo whisk until frothy. (I use my mini frother instead) It is easy to find Matcha – I recommend getting the ceremony type, instead of the food grade type because it is less bitter. Now, you might be thinking – this tastes like grass – and you would be right – Matcha has a very strong flavor. For this reason, I prefer to make a Matcha Latte with coconut milk. It’s super simple and goes perfectly with a little downtime or meditation. Put a teaspoon of your powdered matcha in your cup, add warm hot water and coconut milk (equal parts or whatever you prefer) and a little bit of honey or whatever sweetener you prefer. Then, froth away. Sip and meditate…..