Coffee used to be my thing. There was no morning, lunchtime or afternoon without it. I thought I was drinking it because of the lovely taste but I couldn't 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. I didn't feel any better with it, but a lot worse without it. 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 the addiction that controls your life. I took a week off of coffee and then replaced it with matcha. For the first days, the persistent headache stuck with me, which made me realize even more that the decision I made was good. I am so grateful for the day I realized I was 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 a cup of coffee every day because the taste, smell, and peaceful routine.
History of matcha tea
The history of matcha tea 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 a great number of antioxidants
Antioxidants are found in fresh fruits and vegetables, but matcha green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants of any ingredient we can consume. Thanks to them, not only we look younger and feel healthier, but also we are prevented from serious diseases.
Rich in catechins and EGCG
Green tea contains a specific type of antioxidant known as catechins. One of them, known as EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate), is particularly potent and known for its anti-cancer properties. Matcha can have up to 100 times as much EGCG as other teas.
Supports memory and concentration
Another additional effect of L-theanine is the production of dopamine and serotonin. These two hormones affect our mood, and their great concentration makes us more relaxed, content and happy.
Matcha tea has been used by Buddhist monks to calm the mind and relax without being dull. The amino acid L-theanine contained in matcha tea has a revitalizing effect on the mind. It calms and helps to concentrate, without causing other side effects as opposed to coffee.
Matcha green tea speeds up the body's metabolism and helps burning fat up to 4 times faster. Furthermore, It is a completely natural dietary supplement that is derived from young green tea leaves (unlike pills that do not guarantee the results and always have side effects).
Makes us immune and full of vigour
Although all green teas have caffeine, the energy surge that we can experience while drinking matcha tea regularly comes from its unique composition. Thanks to L-theanine, the surge of vigour can last up to 6 hours, and unlike coffee and in particular - energy drinks, we do not feel irritated or hypertensive later on. The energy that comes from matcha is clean and healthy.
Strengthens the immune system
The catechins that are contained in matcha green tea have antibiotic properties. They enhance our overall immunity. Additionally, just one cup of this tea provides significant amounts of potassium, vitamins A and C, iron, protein and calcium. Research shows that the nutrients contained in matcha increase immunity at the cellular level.
Cleanses the body
Three weeks before harvesting, the tea leaves are kept away from direct sunlight so that they can produce as much chlorophyll as possible (the dye that gives the plants their green color). It is resulted by a large amount of this pigment in the leaves, which is also an ingredient that cleanses the blood of toxins and impurities.
Lowers bad cholesterol
Research suggest that people who drink matcha regularly have lower levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol and higher levels of "good" HDL cholesterol. People who drink matcha suffer 11% less from heart disease than people who do not.
Unlike other teas, you do not need to add sugar, milk or lemon to matcha tea. It has a natural flavour that the Japanese call "umami", or "fifth taste". Sit back, relax and try the taste of a cup of great matcha.
How to identify a real matcha tea
The original matcha tastes, looks and smells different than the one from China or Korea. Moreover, the original matcha contains greater amounts of valuable ingredients. These are the reasons why it has such a remarkable effect on our health. Matcha tea comes in a variety of qualities and prices. Authentic matcha tea comes from Japan and it is ground into a powder in stone mills. The best one is Tencha green tea. Its leaves are kept in shade before harvesting. Genuine matcha tea contains increased amounts of chlorophyll, amino acids and antioxidants.
On the European market, there are many products that are called "matcha", but do not contain matcha tea. Therefore, it is worth knowing how to distinguish fake matcha from the original one.
Possible side effects of drinking matcha tea
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
Differences between matcha tea and 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
Frequently asked questions about matcha tea
Can I drink matcha tea every day?
Yes, you can drink matcha every day. It's proved it's safe to drink up to 5 cups of matcha tea a day. Bear in mind that matcha contains more caffeine than regular coffee, however, it delivers caffeine to your body different and longer way.
Can I drink matcha tea before bed?
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.
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.
How to store matcha powder?
It's very important to store matcha powder in a cold and dark place. Also, you need to be aware of what container you use. It needs to have an airtight lid, and solid material so the light can't penetrate. Bear in mind, it needs to be used within 1-2 months.
How to choose high quality matcha?
The colour of matcha must be vibrant green, there shouldn't be any additives neither flavouring, matcha should come from Japan, you should expect pay around $1 per gram and the reviews of the company you are buying from should be solid. Also, it's worth to ask the owner about the matcha he is selling.
Is matcha tea addictive?
It is addictive if you exceed the recommended dose of caffeine on the daily basis. It can leave you lethargic, and irritable. Some people can experience headaches and fatigue until they get their cup of matcha tea.
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.
Is matcha tea safe while breastfeeding?
Yes, drinking matcha tea while breastfeeding does not have any side effect on the baby and mother and it is safe when consumed in limited quantity (1 or 2 cups per day).
Can matcha heal an acne?
Powdered matcha tea has a strong, anti-inflammatory properties and reduces skin redness and acne. Also, it soothes skin problems. Matcha tea helps to exfoliate dead epidermis cells and thus evens out the skin tone and rejuvenates it. It makes the skin smooth and soft.
Does matcha taste better hot or cold?
It depends on your preference. Cold brewing matcha gives a sweeter brew, devoid of most of the bitterness and a large part of caffeine. Hot brewing between 75-80 degrees Celcius gives a vegetal notes, a pleasant bitterness, nuttiness, and a smooth sweetness.
Is matcha gluten-free?
Matcha is naturally gluten-free unless it's not contaminated with gluten during the manufacturing process. Look for a gluten-free label or contact the manufacturer if you are uncertain.
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.