In today’s post we’re going to be talking all about matcha!
What is Matcha and How Is It Made?
Made and harvested from the young, shade-grown leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant (this is the same plant used to make other tea types such as oolong, black and white teas!) Matcha powder differs from regular green tea in that the leaves are grown in the shade, picked while still young and then gently dried to stop the oxidization process. Next, the entire leaf is ground into a bright green, ultra fine powder that blends and dissolves when whisked into hot water. This allows matcha powder to contain a more concentrated level of caffeine, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants than traditional green teas.
What Are Some Of The Health Benefits Of Matcha?
Being made and brewed for almost nine hundred years, the health benefits of matcha have withstood the test of time and only seem to increase the more we learn about this wonderful tea. Since the entire leaf is ground and ingested, the concentration and benefits of Matcha surpasses most other traditional teas.
Matcha contains numerous antioxidants, amino acids, minerals, and vitamins including: Vitamin A, C, E, K, Complex Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, and minerals Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese, Calcium, Chromium, Prosperous, (read more on the benefits of each) that are all known for aiding in boosting our immune system, guarding against heart and brain diseases, increasing our metabolisms – thereby aiding in weight loss, and acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.
And in the case of the plant compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), the high amounts found in matcha was recorded to contain three times that of most green teas and as much 137 times as much as China Green Tips tea. This polyphenol has been found to play a role in reducing blood pressure and lowering LDL cholesterol as well as preventing the spread and growth of tumors and cancer causing cells. And as an added benefit, both EGCG and the amino acid L-theanine work together to create Matcha’s iconic cognitive and potentially mood boosting benefits thereby increasing attention, memory, and focus, making this a great mid-afternoon pick-me-up without the crash of other caffeinated drinks.
But as impressive as Matcha is, it is important to note that it is still a caffeinated beverage and even though a cup of matcha contains about 32-48mg of caffeine (about 50% less than the same amount of brewed coffee), as with all things, it is best enjoyed in moderation.
What Are The Different Types of Matcha?
There are two types of matcha and each type has various grades within them. Here’s a brief overview of the differences between them and their uses:
- Ceremonial Matcha: this matcha’s specific purpose is to be whisked in hot water and enjoyed without anything else being added in.
Considered the highest grade of matcha and thus the purest and most costly, it is most commonly used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and is made from the youngest leaves which enables it to have an extremely vibrant green color and naturally sweet flavor. Within this category, there are four main grades including Premium ceremonial, Ceremonial, Ceremonial blend and Sweet matcha.
- Culinary Matcha: this matcha’s specific purpose is to be enjoyed in foods such as lattes, smoothies, baking, and cooking.
Using leaves that are slightly older, this type of matcha is still high grade even though it costs less than ceremonial matcha. It has a grassier note to it with mildly bitter and astringent undertones which lends itself well to being used and blended in with other ingredients and stands up well to being cooked without losing any nutritional and antioxidant value. Within this category, there are five main grades including: Premium, Cafe, Ingredient, Kitchen, and Classic.
If you’d like to learn a bit more about the different types, matcha experts over at Ujido’s have written a great blog post that goes into detail about all the various types.
Best Uses For Matcha
Matcha is honestly a very versatile powder that, depending on the kind you use, can be used in a variety of hot or cold recipes, in a various ways from being mixed, stirred or blended in, to being used by itself as a topping by sprinkling or adding a dusting of it as a finishing touch.
Some of the more popular uses for matcha powder can be used to flavor:
- Lattes – such as Kitrusy’s Refreshing Matcha Latte shown above!
- Blended Shakes and Smoothies
- Japanese Mochi
- On your popcorn – I love making a matcha striped popcorn using my Easy Caramel Corn recipe and striping it over with dark chocolate and a matcha icing drizzle! Curious what it looks like? Take a peek below 👇
Other uses for your matcha powder include
- Ice Cream and Popsicles
- Pancakes and Crepes
- Chocolate Truffles
- Stirred into Yogurt, Oatmeal and Puddings
- Added to Steamed Rice or cous-cous
- Or for an unconventional, non-edible use, you can use matcha powder to your bath soaks, body and face scrubs and even in your face masks!
What are your favorite ways to use this wonderful tea? Let us know in the comments below!