THE GREEN TEA THAT CAN CHANGE YOUR LIFE
Matcha is the ‘new’ trend making waves in the food world for its incredible health benefits and its delicious flavor, but this ancient drink has been enhancing lives in Japan for over 1000 years, where it is revered for its mental & medical remedies. It may have taken a while, but the power of matcha is finally becoming known all across the world and is changing the way people fuel their lives.
WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha is a fine powder of ground whole green tea leaves. Unique from other teas, it is the only tea where the entire leaf is consumed. Only the strongest growing green tea leaves are selected for matcha production. They are then shade grown for the last three weeks before harvesting and the stems are removed before the leaves are ground into a fine powder. Matcha is traditionally prepared by whisking a scoop of powder with hot water until frothy. Smooth and vegetal with a pleasant nutty bittterness, matcha has a grassy and sweet flavor.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF MATCHA:
Before tea was considered a casual beverage, it was considered a medicine. Of all the teas on earth, matcha is the ultimate medicine.
-Matcha is the highest source of antioxidants per gram (ORAC=1573) with the next highest source being goji berries (ORAC=253).
-One serving of matcha has the equivalent amount of antioxidants contained in 10 cups of normal brewed green tea
-Matcha is bursting with catechins, particularly EGCG, which is the most potent & beneficial antioxidant- known to prevent cancer & heart disease and is effective in reducing inflammation & slowing cartilage breakdown
ALKALIZING & DETOXIFYING
-With its incredibly high levels of chlorophyll, matcha provides oxygen to the tissues, detoxifying & creating a healthy alkaline pH in the body
STIMULATES METABOLISM & BURNS FAT
-The catechin EGCG in matcha has been found to raise the body’s thermogenesis (the body’s own rate of burning calories) from 8-10% of daily expenditure to between 35-43% of daily expenditure
-At the same time it oxidates fat & limits intestinal absorption of fat, all while not raising blood pressure or heart rate
-EGCG is proven to fight skin aging, reduce inflammation caused by UV radiation & suppress acne
INCREASES FOCUS & CALMS MIND
-The shade growing of matcha elevates the L-theanine content, an amino acid that induces alpha frequency brain waves, resulting in mental calmness, improved concentration & memory, and relaxed alertness
-It naturally contains only 1/2 the caffeine of coffee
-The unique properties of matcha result in a calm energy that lasts for 5.5 hours on average, with no jitters, crash, or nervous energy
For me, matcha has always been so much more than a trend, it is a lifestyle. I have shared my passion for this drink with many, many people because I believe that the benefits of matcha are powerful, and for some life-changing. I asked some of the people that I have recommended matcha to if they would be willing to share how making matcha a part of their life changed their health and well being, here is what they had to share:
“Before switching to matcha, I drank strong, black coffee, 20 oz/day. My reason for switching was increasing problems with indigestion/acid stomach, and a pervasive, edgy feeling produced by coffee’s high caffeine content. I have mild adult ADHD, and caffeine helps my mind focus and reduces distraction so I did not want to abstain from caffeine, but the effects of coffee were becoming oppressive. The caffeine/theanine combination in matcha has been a great solution. Now I don’t have indigestion/stomach acid problems, so I can eat foods that I love but once avoided because of stomach pain. Reducing my caffeine intake did result in withdrawal symptoms (headaches) which took some time to subside, but the result has been well worth it. I have not drunk coffee in over 1 1/2 years and I can’t see myself going back to it” – Greg
“My husband and I started drinking matcha 2.5 years ago and it has been quite a game changer for both of us.
My husband was an avid energy drink consumer, he would typically have one in the morning and another in the early afternoon to keep him going. He also suffered terribly from Acid Reflux, and skin irritation. After making the transition to Matcha he immediately noticed that his Acid Reflux diminished, and then completely went away, and after a month or so his skin had really cleared up. In addition, he no longer needed that energy drink in the afternoon; the slow release of the caffeine from the matcha was enough to keep him going all day. He enjoys his matcha in a shaker bottle mixed with 16 oz of cold water, 2 TBS of agave, and 4-6 oz of unsweetened almond milk.
I on the other hand was not drinking any sort of caffeine when we started drinking matcha, I was nursing our 4-month old son at the time and didn’t want to put any caffeine in his system; however, with the sleepless nights, and working full time I was really struggling. I started drinking matcha tea, and I would only drink 1/2 a tsp. mixed with almond milk and honey for a delicious latte. I am SUPER sensitive to caffeine, and I love coffee, but a single cup is enough to get my hands shaking and my heart pounding. Matcha has never done that for me, when I first started drinking it, it simply helped clear my mind of the foggy mommy brain. I experienced no negative effects from the caffeine, and didn’t notice any change in my little one. When I stopped nursing I increased my matcha intake to a full serving and still thoroughly enjoy my latte every morning.
Matcha has been a delicious and healthy addition to our life. While we each like it in our own way, neither of us would want to go back to life without it!” – Aubree
“I was going through about 4-5 cups of black coffee daily before I tried matcha. It had gotten to the point where the caffeine had little to no effect on me, however, a day without it meant I’d stay in bed until noon with a monstrous headache. I was tired all the time and either unable to sleep at night, or I could sleep all night and well into the afternoon the next day. No matter what, I was exhausted. This was also around the same time I had learned that I was suffering from extreme adrenal fatigue and was desperately looking ways to balance myself (coffee definitely exacerbates the symptoms). My friend Bella was kind enough to send me some matcha to use as a way to ease myself off of caffeine and though it wasn’t easy, I jumped at the chance to alleviate some of my symptoms. My withdrawals lasted about two months (headaches, extreme fatigue) but quitting coffee was definitely worth it long term. I don’t feel exhausted throughout the day and fall asleep easier most nights. I haven’t had coffee for nine months and while some days I’ll have matcha or other teas, most days I find I don’t need anything at all!” – Christine
MORE THAN A DRINK
With such a vast array of physical & mental benefits, matcha is so much more than a drink. Matcha is a way of living. It nurtures the body & calms the mind- a retreat from the hectic, grounding us in the midst of our over-stimulated modern lives. Energizing yet relaxing, nourishing & protecting, matcha is the drink that keeps on giving.
HOW TO SELECT & PREPARE MATCHA
- SELECTING MATCHA
-We choose matcha that is organically grown in Uji, Kyoto, Japan. Out of all of the brands we have tried over the years, we love Encha the most because it is consistent in quality, superior in flavor, and offers three grades of matcha all at a great value. Their matcha goes through extensive testing for quality (you can read all the details here) and they have excellent customer service. Encha also happens to be available on Amazon Prime here in the U.S. and can ship worldwide through their site at Encha.com. Here are the main factors to consider when choosing quality matcha
- VIBRANT HUE: quality matcha should be a beautiful vibrant green, matcha oxidizes when exposed to air, turning an unpleasant brown shade, so purchasing matcha direct from the farm that packages it is best
- SMOOTH SWEET FLAVOR: matcha should taste grassy and sweet, with a pleasant, non-astringent bitterness that is smooth and vegetal
- JAPANESE MATCHA vs. CHINESE MATCHA: generally speaking, “matcha” is not shade grown in China, which leads to a dull and bitter “matcha” product. In Japan, matcha is shade grown, which produces the most vibrant, best tasting matcha.
- WHY WE CHOOSE ORGANIC
-The reason is very simple, tea leaves have no protection. Since matcha is made from ground de-stemmed green tea leaves, we don’t want to ingest any harmful residues from pesticides and synthetic chemical fertilizers which are used in conventional farming. Less than 1% of teas sold in the U.S. are organic, so the more we support organic farmers, the stronger signal we are sending to other farmers and the entire world to go organic. (you can learn more about the Encha farm here)
- WHICH GRADE TO CHOOSE
-There are typically 2 grades of matcha to choose from: ceremonial & culinary. The main difference from one grade to the next is harvest time. Encha has 3 grades to choose from. Here is a general guide:
- CEREMONIAL: Premium 1st harvest in May – very smooth, grassy & delicate – best for traditional matcha preparation
- LATTE GRADE: 1st harvest in May – smooth & mildly grassy – best for lattes (matcha with milk and/or sweetener added)
- CULINARY: 2nd harvest in June – moderately grassy, bitter – best for baking & smoothies
- HOW TO PREPARE IT
-Matcha can be used in all kinds of applications, but when it comes to drinking, there are two primary ways it is typically drinken:
- WHICH MILK IS BEST?
-We have found that our favorite milks for making matcha lattes are non-dairy, our top choices are:
- WHICH SWEETENER IS BEST?
-While many people enjoy a ceremonial style matcha with no sweetener added, my hubby and I absolutely love matcha lattes that are gently sweetened. The possibilities are really quite endless when it comes to flavoring & sweetening your matcha latte, but here are our top choices for sweeteners:
- WHAT TOOLS DO YOU NEED?
-There are many ways to prepare matcha, but the following tools are what we use to make the best matcha drinks:
- Traditional bamboo whisk & holder – using a bamboo whisk produces the smoothest matcha – a holder helps the whisk keep its shape
- Fine sieve & bamboo scoop – we use a traditional bamboo scoop to portion our matcha & sift it through a fine sieve before whisking with hot water (sifting ensures there will be no clumps of matcha)
- Wide matcha bowl or mug – you want to use a bowl or mug that is at least 3.5″-4″ in diameter to allow for optimal whisking action
- Aerolatte or milk frother – while not necessary, frothing your hot milk with an Aerolatte or milk frother will allow you to create cafe style lattes at home
- HOW TO STORE MATCHA:
-As I mentioned earlier, matcha will oxidize and spoil if exposed to air, so it is best to store it in an airtight package or container in the refrigerator. Unopened, a package will last about one year if stored in the refrigerator. If you have matcha that has ‘expired‘ I would recommend using it in smoothies or baking with it. Once opened, matcha should ideally be used up within 1 – 2 months to ensure optimum freshness, color, and taste.
MY FAVORITE MATCHA RECIPES
- MATCHA CHEESECAKE BROWNIES
- DAIRY-FREE PISTACHIO ICE CREAM (naturally colored with matcha!)
- MATCHA MILK BREAD TURTLES WITH CHOCOLATE DUTCH CRUNCH
In closing, I wanted to leave you guys with our basic recipe for making an incredible matcha latte. This recipe has converted many people who were either on the fence about matcha or flat out hated matcha into matcha lovers!
P.S. If you have a question about matcha that I did not cover, just let me know in the comments and I will be sure to answer you!
- 1 tsp Encha latte grade matcha (or ceremonial grade, if you are feeling extra special)
- 2 oz. hot, not boiling water
- 6 oz. steamed milk
- 1-2 tsp sweetener of your choice
- Heat filtered water in a kettle until just before boiling. Turn off heat and let kettle sit while you prepare the rest of your ingredients
- Heat 6 oz. of milk in a small saucepan until hot, but not boiling ( you can also use the microwave, a stovetop steamer, or a milk frother like an Aerocino)
- In a wide mouthed mug or matcha bowl, sift 1 tsp. of matcha through a fine sieve into mug or bowl
- Pour 2 oz. of hot water over matcha, use bamboo whisk in a zig zag motion to whisk the matcha until smooth and frothy, approximately 10-15 seconds
- Add sweetener of choice to whisked matcha and stir to combine
- At this point you can froth your heated milk if you did not use a milk frother or stovetop steamer
- Pour prepared milk into matcha and enjoy :)