Beginners Guide to Matcha
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a green tea powder that primarily originates from the southern regions of Japan. What makes matcha different from traditional green tea is that the bushes growing the green tea leaves are covered up to 20 days prior to being harvested. The reason for doing this is to enhance the leaves chlorophyll levels as well as enhancing the growth of the amnio acid L-Theanine.
Why drink it?
To be honest, when matcha first started making the rounds I was inclined to ignore it completely. Especially in our day in age there is always some new and exciting product on the market touting all kinds of amazing benefits. Some may be warranted but I’ve found that most are exaggerated and soon fade into the history of the health world. Matcha didn’t seem to be fading away as quickly as I thought so I decided to give it a little more research. One of the first things I discovered is that it’s actually not new; in fact, its really really old. I always love finding a healthy product that has been used by humans for ages because it relieves my anxiety that 10 years down the road I am not going to be face palming myself in disbelief that I consumed something that wasn’t as good for me and my family as I thought.
The next thing that got my attention was the ample amounts of health benefits. There are too many to go over here but if you are interested jump on over to this blog post to learn more on matcha’s deep pockets of health.
These are the top five benefits of matcha that sold me :
Improves Cholesterol – Matcha has been shown to reduce bad cholestoel levels while raising good cholesterol levels. Research has shown that men who consume matcha are 11% less likely to develop heart disease than men who do not. My husband has a long line of heart disease behind him so anything that can fight against those genes is a plus in my book.
Increases Metabolism – Matcha contains a thermogenic compound called EGCG that has been shown to to boost metabolism and increase your fat burning rate. I’ll take that.
Antioxidants – Antioxidants are a word we hear all the time but may forget exactly why we love them. Antioxidants are molecules that prevent free radicals from oxidation our blood. Oxidation to our blood causes a number of diseases including cancer.
Clean Energy – Listen, I am an avid coffee drinker and lover and will be till the day I die, but, I think we can all agree that when you overdo coffee it can leave you feeling depleted and foggy instead of alert and energetic. With matcha, I was seriously impressed with the level of calm, clear headed energy it gave me. It left me feeling like I had just awoken from a really great sleep, energetic but not frantic.
Detoxification – Matcha contains 3x the amount of chlorophyll than regular green tea which is awesome because chlorophyll has the ability to bind and flush out toxins and heavy metals from the body. It even aids in riding the body of pesticides. heck yeah.
What should I look for when buying Matcha?
Unfortunately, my first batch of matcha ended up in the trash after my aunt opened my eyes to how important it is to make sure your matcha is coming from a quality source. Here are the main things I would look out for when purchasing matcha:
Grown in Japan – This is definitely number one because many matcha distributers grow and source their matcha from China. This is bad because research has shown that tea grown in China can have high levels of lead. If you are worried about radiation affecting matcha in Japan most of the high quality growers conduct an annual radioactivity test and release their results on their websites. The matcha I drink is called Encha, it is USDA certified organic and has never found radioactivity in their green tea leaves.
Green, Green, Green – You want your match to have the color of a bright spring green, not a muted or muddy green. This is an important cue as to whether the tea is quality or not.
Taste – Matcha should taste grassy with a slight sweetness; never bitter or muddy.
Ceremonial VS. Culinary – You will likely run into this term a time or two while shopping around for matcha. If you are going to be drinking your matcha then I highly recommend going with ceremonial grade matcha. Simply put, it is higher quality and produces a better, brighter flavor. If you plan on cooking and mixing the matcha into something other than water or milk you are good to go with culinary grade.
Cost – As the saying goes, you get what you pay for and this certainly applies to matcha. If you found a great deal on matcha then chances are it does not meet the other guidelines. Better to spend a few extra dollars than to have a nice cup of lead with your breakfast. The average cost for high quality matcha is between $25-$30 per 30g.
For a super in-depth look at matcha and popular matcha brands check out this blog post.
Almond Milk Matcha Latte
Preparing matcha tea is incredibly simple. Having a traditional bamboo whisk like this is helpful but not necessary. You can also use a normal whisk, spoon or even a blender if you want your matcha latte extra foamy.
- 1/2-1 tsp of high quality matcha powder
- 5 oz of almond milk (you can also use hot or cold water instead for a normal tea)
- Working with a medium bowl, spoon your 1/2-1 tsp of matcha powder into the bowl. Slowly pour in the 5 oz of almond milk.
- Using the bamboo whisk, whisk rapidly in a line motion for 15 seconds then move into a “W” motion for another 15 seconds or until a light foam forms on top.
- Pour the whisked matcha latte into a cup and enjoy all those delicious health benefits.