Coffee used to be my everything. There was no morning, lunchtime, and afternoon without it. I thought I was drinking it because of the lovely taste but nothing could be more wrong. My go-to order was an Americano with a dash of oat or coconut milk (I also love almond one but it ruins my day when it separates from coffee). My relationship with coffee was weird. When I drunk it, I didn't feel better but when I didn't do it, my life has collapsed and the only thing I dreamed about was my cozy bed. This is how I stuck in this endless cycle. If you are a coffee addict, I am sure you know what I am talking about!
Almost 8 months ago, I came to the point I didn't feel well without a coffee and decided to change it. There is nothing worse than an addiction that controls your life, isn't it? I took a week off of coffee and replaced it with matcha. For the first days, the persistent headache stuck with me, which made me realize even more that I made a good decision! After 8 months, I am so grateful for the day I realized I am addicted.
I can almost hear you thinking you will never quit coffee and that's fine. I don't say coffee is bad. It has a wide range of great benefits but remember - balance is a key. I still drink 1 cup of coffee every day because the taste, smell, and peaceful routine in creating a delicious cup of fresh coffee make me relaxed and content.
How it has started
The history of matcha was born almost a thousand years ago when the Tang Dynasty ruled China. Back then, green matcha tea leaves were powdered to help them to form into bricks. In this way, the green tea harvest was easier to transport and could be a valuable substitute for raw material. Matcha green tea bricks were made by mixing the ground green powder with water and salt. It gained popularity during the Song Dynasty. This time, the Japanese Buddhist monk Eisai spent most of his life studying Buddhism in China. However, in 1191 Eisai decided to return to his homeland. He brought matcha seeds with him along with the Buddhist methods of preparing it. Eisai had planted seeds in a temple in Kyoto, then matcha green tea has started to be a symbol of luxury. Sometime after Eisai's return to Japan, Buddhist monks developed a new method of growing matcha green tea. Since then, it has been grown in the shade to obtain its maximum health benefits.
Benefits of drinking matcha tea
Contains many vitamins and minerals
such as: dietary fiber, catechin (antioxidants), caffeine, L-theanine, beta carotene, zinc, potassium, calcium, sodium, iron, vitamins B, A, E and C.
Supports weight loss
One recent study has even suggested that Matcha may help to burn calories four times faster. Also, it showed that exercising immediately after drinking matcha tea increases fat burning during exercise by 25%.
Antiviral and antifungal activity
Japanese people have the highest life expectancy in the world
Lowers the level of "bad" cholesterol
Helps to prevent heart attacks
Lowers the pressure level
Has a detoxifying and relaxing effect
Regulates digestive processes
Strengthens the immune system
Additionally, it has more antioxidants
6.2 times more than in Goji berries
7 times more than in dark chocolate
17 times more than in wild blueberries
60.5 more than in spinach
What you need to know
Don't drink matcha on an empty stomach as it can cause constipation and gastritis, as well as damage the liver
Pregnant women should not consume more than three glasses of matcha green tea a day due to the caffeine and lead content
Matcha tea may react with some medications
How is matcha different from regular green tea
When drinking matcha, we consume the whole Tencha green tea leaves. Thanks to them, we provide the body with all the nutrients contained in tea (amino acids, minerals, vitamins, fibre and antioxidants). In the case of a regular tea infusion, only 10-20% of these ingredients get into the body (depending on the type of tea) because most of them are not soluble. This is the main difference between matcha and all other teas. Matcha is a green tea in its purest form. When growing matcha, leaf shading techniques are used: plantations of shrubs intended for powdering are covered with bamboo mats. This technique results in increased chlorophyll content in the harvest. After harvesting, the leaves are steamed and dried before being sent to traditional stone mills. The obtained fine powder with a pollen diameter is tightly packed to avoid contact with light, which may contribute to the loss of unique properties of this tea.
How to prepare matcha tea in the traditional Japanese way
Here are the 3 steps to follow when making traditional matcha tea.
Step 1 Using a bamboo chashaku spoon, measure out 2 small portions of matcha tea / 1 teaspoon (about 2 grams). Put the tea on a strainer which needs to be placed above the tea brewing vessel - chawan. Then, pour matcha through the strainer, gently pressing the spoon against the strainer.
Step 2 Pour about 80 ml of warm water into the prepared tea. When it comes to water temperature, you can experiment with it - depending on the chosen brewing temperature, matcha will have a different taste. If you use water at a temperature of 70 degrees C, you will get an infusion with a delicate sweet taste. The temperature slightly higher - 80 degrees C will give the tea a deep aroma.
Step 3 The next step is to mix the tea and water thoroughly with a bamboo chasen whisk. Use a whisk to stir the tea for about 15 seconds using vigorous M-shaped movements, i.e. from one side of the vessel to the other - circular movements are not recommended.
Tadaam, your matcha is ready to drink! If you don't have traditional matcha brewing accessories at home, you can simply use whatever you have in your kitchen - a regular spoon, small strainer and mug. A milk stirrer works well as a bamboo whisk.
Different ways of using matcha tea
How many times did you pass a cafe, catching a glance at some green cakes on the display? or how many times did you see a people eating green ice creams? Did you wonder what flavour can it be? I did, not once and not twice! I didn't order anything green as I was sure it's tasteless and full of dyes. Probably most of the times I was wrong. You should have seen my face when a few years ago I found out about the matcha. Everything clicked! Now I know that you can add matcha to literally any meal! It is truly a versatile superfood. Here are my favourite ways to use matcha as an edible addition to your day!
Matcha stovetop popcorn
Favorite recipe: ohhowcivilized.com
White chocolate matcha brownies
Favorite recipe: sainsburys.co.uk
Matcha Mille Crepe Cake
Favorite recipe: justonecookbook.com
Matcha ice cream
Favorite recipe: justonecookbook.com
The most common questions
Can I drink matcha tea every day?
Of course! It's proved it's safe to drink up to 5 cups of matcha a day. However, don't forget it contains the caffeine so I recommend drinking 3 cups a day. Personally, 1 cup of matcha keeps me energized and focused all day. Also, matcha contains more caffeine than coffee, however, it delivers caffeine to your body different and longer way. Check out below!
Can I drink matcha tea before bed?
Surprisingly yes! During the day, matcha keeps you energized and in the evening it helps you to relax and destress your mind. It contains amino acids that quieten beta waves and encourage alpha brain waves. This shushes that part of your brain that runs wild. I am sure you sometimes analyze the whole day and try to remind what you could have said or done that day, don't you? For me, it always happens when I should relax and prepare for sleep.
How long does it take for matcha to kick in?
It's very personal but most people start to feel the effects of drinking matcha within minutes of consuming it. Also, the benefits of matcha can be noticed for as long as 2 to 6 hours.
Does matcha taste like grass?
Decent quality matcha tea can have an earthy, sweet and grassy flavour. You don't need to add any sweeteners when using premium quality. I always buy my matcha tea from a reliable source, and I prefer to add 1 teaspoon of honey.
How to store matcha powder?
It's very important to store it in a cold and dark place. Also, you need to be aware of what container you use. It needs to be something with an airtight lid, and solid material so the light can't penetrate. Please bear in mind, it needs to be used within 1-2 months.
How do I know I choose high quality product?
Is matcha tea addictive?
Everybody knows that feeling good can be addictive! However, there is no evidence that matcha causes any coffee-like addictions. Also, it doesn't give you any withdrawal symptoms if you stop drinking it.
Is matcha tea safe during pregnancy?
Once again, it contains caffeine. During pregnancy, it is advised to drink/eat maximum 200mg of caffeine per day. Hence, it's crucial to count your caffeine intake and if it fits in your daily limit, you can enjoy it! Also, I would recommend to consult it with your doctor before you start drinking it.
What is the best temperature to serve matcha?
If you want to receive the greatest health benefits, 70 degrees or lower is an optimum temperature. Don't worry if you don't have a temperature-controlled kettle. You can simply switch off the kettle before it reaches boiling point, pour the water to the glass, stir it and wait a minute or two.
I hope you like this post! Please let me know in the comments below what's your favourite way of preparing matcha and if you have any questions, feel free to ask.