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Tea Notes

Discover the world of tea, from the history of its cultural significance to the science of its benefits and the art of its preparation.

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Tea Notes

Discover the world of tea, from the history of its cultural significance to the science of its benefits and the art of its preparation.

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Ultimate Guide to Matcha Tea
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Ultimate Guide to Matcha Tea

Min Read | January 25, 2019

Thanks to its vivid green color, a host of health benefits, and endless versatility, matcha is a fascinating ingredient that can be put to many uses. Whether whisked into a drink, sprinkled into a smoothie, baked into a cake, or stirred into a cocktail, this whole green tea powder is a superfood worth incorporating into daily life. Read on for the ultimate guide to matcha tea, a delicious addition to any meal, snack or tea ritual.

WHAT IS MATCHA, EXACTLY?

Matcha is a powder made from stone-ground green tea leaves, rich with earthy flavor and packed with antioxidants. Its leaves come from the camellia sinensis plant, from which all tea is produced. Mostly grown and ground in Japan, matcha comes in a trio of grades: culinary/cooking (best suited for baking), premium (perfect for daily beverages), and ceremonial (reserved for traditional tea ceremonies).

Small Article Tea Fields
Matcha Tea Fields

Grown in the shade and harvested in the spring, green tea leaves contain around 35 to 50 milligrams of caffeine per 8-ounce serving. When preparing a typical cup of green tea, the leaves are removed once they’ve finished steeping. But when we drink matcha, we ingest the entire leaf in its powdered form, which offers about 70 milligrams of caffeine per teaspoon. This makes matcha a wonderful alternative to coffee and a delicious departure for those wanting less of a jolt from their morning (or afternoon) cup.

WHERE DOES MATCHA COME FROM?

Matcha hails from China and dates back to the Tang Dynasty, although many today associate it with Japan. That’s because traditional matcha ceremonies became popular in Japan after the founder of Zen Buddhism was said to have brought matcha back from his travels to China in the late 12th century AD. It was then introduced to the royal class and grew into a trend among samurai warriors who gathered around cups of matcha tea as they socialized with one another.

Eventually, matcha ceremonies were enjoyed by the general population as well, but not before the 14th century, when such ceremonies were banned by the country’s rulers over their paranoia about politics being discussed over tea. Today, matcha is a popular superfood found in lattes, desserts and many incarnations in between, but it’s backstory is steeped in drama.



To learn more about tea’s cultural role throughout history, click here.



IS MATCHA HEALTHY?

A cup of matcha has the ability to deliver a calm feeling of alertness, thanks to its combination of caffeine and an amino acid called L-Theanine. It also offers more than seven times the antioxidants of many high-quality dark chocolates, and 60 times that of spinach. One type of antioxidant in particular, known as catechins, have been shown in medical studies to have the potential to prevent some forms of cancer, lower cholesterol, positively affect metabolic rates, and promote cardiovascular health.

Because we ingest the entire leaf in powder form when we drink matcha, we enjoy even greater health benefits than those afforded by a cup of regular green tea, from which we discard the leaves once they’ve finished steeping. For purists, matcha’s earthy flavor can be enjoyed without adding sugar, making it preferable to high-calorie sodas and other sweetened beverages. Its ability to lend extra antioxidants without bulk makes it an ideal addition to smoothies and breakfast bowls featuring healthy ingredients like fruit, grains and yogurt.

HOW TO MAKE MATCHA

Preparing matcha is a fairly straightforward process, whether making an energizing water-based suspension or a creamy latte. To follow the classic methods used in tea ceremonies, it’s preferable to use traditional ceremonial teaware, including a bowl (chawan), bamboo whisk (chasen), and measuring ladle (chashaku).

Matcha Ceromy Kit

Matcha may be prepared thin (usucha) or thick (koicha), whisking one teaspoon of matcha powder into an 8-ounce serving of hot water for usucha or two teaspoons for koicha. For an updated take on this Japanese drink, milk is a delicious alternative, using the same ratio and method but simply swapping out water for the milk of your choice.

Matcha Dark Instructions Usucha Koicha Desktop Hd 2880X2692 White New Fixed

For a step-by-step guide to making matcha, click here.


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