Matcha is a revered powdered tea used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Its bright, grassy taste symbolizes the ceremony’s purpose: to embody tranquility and extend the respect of the host to his or her guests. Though it takes years to learn the art of these ceremonies, you can enjoy a cup of matcha as part of your daily ritual anytime.
Matcha is rich in health benefits including vital antioxidants and nutrients. Though matcha is most commonly used as a tea or in a breakfast smoothie, it can also be included in more hearty dishes like matcha green tea coconut fudge, matcha-flavored rice with grilled eggplant, and matcha pasta with basil, garlic, and olive oil.
Matcha tea powder is a vibrant neon green. It’s often sold in small tin canisters or as loose powder that you can transfer to a sealable container to maintain freshness.
Matcha, made from new leaves from the top of the tea plant, has a grassy taste, which can surprise those more accustomed to the rich body of black tea. When mature leaves are used for the matcha blend, the flavor is more astringent, similar to fresh spinach or kale.
You’ll find matcha readily available in fine tea houses, Asian markets, and through online sources.
Matcha doesn’t have a particular season, but certain grades or blends may originate from either young leaves or mature tea leaves.
Your choice of matcha depends on your preference and use. Green matcha is divided into various grades with the lowest—kitchen grade—for cooking or blending with smoothies and the highest—ceremony grade—for prime drinking enjoyment. There are also flavored blends and morning/evening blends.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic, it’s helpful to know what is most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits, vegetables, teas, and spices have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
Studies indicate tea leaves are susceptible to a multitude of toxic residues; therefore, it is recommended to purchase organic tea when possible.
Also note, some teas grown in China absorb lead from the environment. Even organically grown teas often test positive for lead, so check your sources carefully. Because matcha is more concentrated than steeped tea leaves, some health organizations recommend that adults should enjoy only one cup of matcha a day, and children should avoid matcha altogether.
Keep matcha tightly sealed in its original container in a cool, dark place for up to six months.
Add an appropriate serving of matcha powder to a bowl or cup, usually one to two teaspoons, and eight ounces of fresh hot water. Stir vigorously in a zig-zag motion with a special bamboo whisk, known as a chasen, or a fork, until the matcha dissolves completely and the tea is frothy. Drink straight from the bowl or cup.
You can also add matcha powder to your post-workout smoothie.
A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eyes that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.
Iron is an essential trace mineral that transports oxygen in red blood cells from the lungs to the rest of the body, aiding energy and endurance.
Composed of amino acids (building blocks of protein), this essential nutrient aids in the healing of wounds and the growth of hair, skin, and nails; provides a substantial amount of energy and satiation; catalyzes metabolic reactions; and promotes a healthy hormonal and immune system response.
Although commonly described as a mineral, selenium behaves like an antioxidant, helping to reduce the number of free radicals in the body. This may aid in slowing the visible signs of aging, protecting cardiovascular health, and promoting the immune system.
These scavenger molecules are found in a variety of “super foods” such as berries, vegetables, and a variety of nuts and seeds. Antioxidants are important for fighting free radicals that may be associated with aging, cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Matcha tea is made from entire tea leaves ground into a fine powder; therefore, all the nutrients from the leaves remain intact. The result is high amounts of iron and vitamin A, which boost energy and the immune system. In addition, matcha is an excellent source of antioxidants and chlorophyll. Antioxidants minimize damage to healthy cells by stabilizing free radicals. Without antioxidants, free radicals cause excessive damage to cells, accelerating the aging process, potentially altering our DNA, and even contributing to the development of cancer, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Chlorophyll is a highly effective detoxification agent that binds to and hinders the absorption of the toxic metals and we take in from the environment and even foods.
To give you perspective on its power, one cup of matcha has more antioxidants than broccoli, spinach, blueberries, pomegranates, or goji berries. And you’d have to drink 10 cups of standard green tea to receive the same antioxidant benefits as one cup of matcha.
A note of caution: Some teas grown in China absorb lead from the environment. Even organically grown teas often test positive for lead, so check your sources carefully. Because matcha is more concentrated than steeped tea leaves, some organizations recommend that adults should enjoy only one daily cup of matcha, and children should avoid it altogether.
- A cup of matcha has more caffeine that a cup of coffee, but it won’t give you the same jitters as coffee.
- Matcha helps to fight bad breath due to its abundance of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll detoxifies the body, specifically the blood, liver, and digestive tract. A clean body results in decreased bad breath and body odor.
- Matcha is often used to enhance meditation practices, increasing clarity and awareness.