It’s Spring! Time to turn over a new leaf—a green leaf—by trading your brown beverages for emerald-hued Matcha Tea.
Matcha is an antioxidant-rich green tea made from the powdered leaves of the gyokuro tea plant. Matcha gains its glorious green colour because several weeks before harvest the tea plants are shaded from the sun (covered with cloths or bamboo curtains), which increases the chlorophyll content. The tea leaves are steamed, dried, then carefully ground with granite stone mills to produce a fine green powder. The best Matcha is grown and produced in Japan. Matcha can be used to brew a frothy green tea, a latte, or in recipes such as smoothies, ice-cream, and desserts.
Unlike other types of teas, the tea leaves are not strained out prior to drinking, therefore the entire leaf is consumed. This makes Matcha more potent than other teas—one serving of Matcha tea is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea.
Matcha has many astounding health benefits: it has 137x the polyphenols than regular green tea; over 60x the antioxidants of spinach; and 7x the antioxidants of high quality dark chocolate. Matcha has been used by Zen Monks for centuries to aid meditation because it enhances focus, energy, concentration and vitality in a calm, relaxing way without the caffeine crash of coffee. Matcha is also a natural super-food: it lowers cholesterol and blood sugar; boosts metabolism and “torches body fat”; improves skin and prevents ageing; and provides a mega dose of antioxidants including EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate) a potent cancer-fighter. Matcha is also rich in fiber, chlorophyll, vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc, and magnesium. In short, adding Matcha to your daily diet is a simple way to optimize your health.
Although Matcha tea powder is relatively pricey, it is very concentrated and therefore less is required per cup (1/2 teaspoon). Unlike coffee-based drinks, Matcha requires no grinders or expensive equipment—just scoop Matcha powder, add hot water, whisk, and enjoy.
In Japan, there is a ceremonial tradition involved in Matcha brewing. A Chasen 茶筅 (bamboo tea whisk) and a Chashaku 茶杓 (hooked bamboo scoop) are used as well as a ceramic Matcha Chawan 茶碗, (Matcha bowl) in which the tea is mixed in and drunk from. Ceremonial grade Matcha powder is the highest quality Matcha and is distinctive due to the vibrant green colour, slightly sweet (never bitter) flavour, and extra-long, smooth finish. Culinary grade Matcha powder is used as an ingredient in cooking and baking.
Brewing Instructions (from Silk Road Tea)
Two traditional methods of preparation:
- Koicha 濃茶 (or Thick Tea): Pre-heat a tea bowl with hot water. Mix 2 tsp. Matcha and 1/2 cup hot water
- Usucha 薄茶 (or Thin Tea): Pre-heat a tea bowl with hot water. Mix 1/2 tsp. Matcha and 1/4 cup hot water Whip tea to a froth with a whisk, and drink immediately.