Marvelous Matcha

When we want a healthy hot drink, many of us go for green tea. It contains antioxidants, minerals and vitamins. It also has a gentle caffeine buzz.

But there’s a lesser known tea that knocks it out of the park for health giving goodness, and that is matcha.

Benefits of Matcha

Matcha is a high quality ground green tea that originated in China and was introduced to Japan in the 1200’s.

It is made by finely milling shade grown tea leaves so when you consume it you are consuming the whole leaf, not just the goodness that seeps out of a tea bag.

Studies indicate that you can get over a hundred times the antioxidants you would get from a standard cup of green tea. Matcha contains a potent antioxidant, called catechin, which is not found in other foods.

This particular antioxidant is said to have cancer fighting properties and protects us from free radicals – those toxic chemicals that come from UV rays, pollution and toxins we eat, drink and smoke.

Matcha is also being studied as a weight loss aid; it has been proven to increase the rate at which the body burns calories without the dangerous side effects of other weight loss aids.

Modern Science Meets Tradition

More than a thousand years ago, matcha was used by monks to aid their meditation practice by helping them remain calm yet alert. Thanks to modern science, we can confirm that matcha contains an amino acid that aids the brain in achieving a state of focus, relaxation and well being.

Matcha does contain caffeine, about the same amount as coffee. However, the caffeine is released over time, providing calm energy for up to eight hours and does not cause the low that one can experience with coffee.

The presence of the amino acid L-Theanine acts to smooth out the effects of caffeine on the nervous system, creating a feeling of energized bliss. Although other teas also contain L-Theanine, none offer as much as matcha does.

Go Green

With its bright green color, we can’t help but be subconsciously convinced of the health giving properties of matcha. Chlorophyll gives matcha that vibrant green color. And increasingly, the health benefits of matcha is making this tea a popular ingredient for creative bakers and chefs around the world.

Matcha can be found in recipes for everything from pastries to meat dishes. Check out the beautiful matcha cake in the Flying C Café (available on a rotating schedule, while supplies last), upstairs at Co-op West Main and experience it for yourself.

Making Matcha

Matcha comes in different grades. For drinking, you want to get the best quality matcha you can find or afford. For baking, you can use a less expensive, culinary grade. Store matcha away from light or it will lose its vibrant green color. Find matcha in the Co-op’s Bulk section or in the tea aisle.

Matcha hot drink is traditionally prepared with a lovely bamboo whisk in a ceramic drinking bowl with a ceremonial spirit. If you can’t prepare it traditionally, you can also stir the matcha in a small amount of hot water (not boiling) until it forms a paste. Then add the rest of your water. Use 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of matcha for a mug of tea.

You might want to sweeten it, as it can be bitter, and you may also add a creamer of your choice. My favorite is French Vanilla Coconut Creamer, but soy milk is great, too. Another way to make matcha is simply to shake it up in a thermos. It gets nice and frothy.

If you can heat up the creamer and whip it a bit, you can enjoy a latte-style matcha. Be aware that “matcha lattes” might have a lot of added sugar.

Matcha can also be enjoyed in smoothies and cocktails.

Margot’s Matcha Parfait

Ingredients
(makes one serving)

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 banana
  • Ground hemp seeds or flax seeds, to taste
  • Toasted sunflower seeds, almonds or pecans, to taste
  • Strawberries, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon matcha powder
  • Maple syrup to taste

Directions

Mix the matcha with the yogurt, and layer the ingredients in a bowl or parfait cup. Enjoy.