Matcha, the finely milled, emerald green tea powder, has been used in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony for centuries. In modern times, matcha has also been used to flavor and color foods such as soba noodles, green tea ice cream and a variety of Japanese sweets. In the west, matcha found its way into smoothies and lattes and is popular because of its rich taste and multitude of healthy nutrients.
How is it made?
While tea is produced in different countries throughout the world, matcha is unique to Japan. It is grown by local farmers using traditional methods from growing to milling.
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves used to make gyokuro. The preparation of matchaÂ starts several weeks before the harvest, when the tea plants are covered with bamboo mats or tarp in order to reduce the exposure to sunlight and thereby increasing the chlorophyllÂ content in the plant. It is the high cholorphyll contentÂ that gives matcha its distinctly green color. After plucking , the leaves are laid out flat to dry. During the drying process the leaves will crumble somewhat and are known as tencha. Tencha is then de-veined, destemmed and stone milled into a fine, bright green matcha powder.Â Only ground tencha can be called matcha.Â Powdered green teas made from other varietals, like sencha, are known as konacha â€“literally meaning â€œpowder teaâ€.
The most famous matcha producing tea regions in Japan are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka and northern Kyushu.
What is so good about matcha?
Matcha is renowned for many health benefits. It is rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants, fiber, amino acids and chlorophyll. Â Drinking matcha exeeds the nutritional value of a regular cup of green teaÂ since the whole leaf is consumed, and not just the tea-infused water. Â In 2003, researchers from the University of Colorado found that the concentration of the antioxidant ECGC is up to 137 times greater than the amount of ECGC in other commercially availableÂ green teas.
On the other hand, it is not only the nutritional value that is increased, the caffeine content is also higher than in a regular cup of green tea, making matcha a stimulating beverage that will get you going in the morning.
Matcha, like all shade grown teas contains the amino acid â€œL-teanineâ€. Besides giving the tea a sweeter taste, L-theanine also has a relaxing effect on the nervous system which seems to complement the stimulating effects of the caffeine, offering a sustained alertness without the jitters over time
How do I make it?
Use 1 tsp of matcha for each 8oz of water. Traditionally, the matcha is placed in a bowl and hot water added. It is important to make sure that the water is not too hot; 175 F is just about the right temperature. Using a traditional bamboo whisk (chashaku), whisk the matcha until it all lumps are dissolved and a frothy foam starts to build on the surface. A metal whisk will do it in a pinch, but may not produce as mixture as fine and smooth as with the chashaku.Â Since matcha can have a slight bitterness, it is typically served with a Japanese sweet.
Instead of the traditional preparation, matcha can be added to any smoothie for a little kick, whisked into hot milk for a delicious latte or added to a milk shake and yogurt.
Try this great smoothie recipe that will have you wanting more or visit us at Souvia for a matcha sample.
- 1 teaspoon of matcha powder
- 1-2 cups of milk (can be substituted with soy, rice , almond milk)
- Ice cubes
- 1 banana
- Â½ tsp cinnamon
Put everything into blender and blend at high speed until thick, creamy and smooth and sprinkle with dark chocolate !!