It’s the name heralded by everyone from professional tea sommeliers, health and wellbeing bloggers and even top athletes. But what exactly is this new bright green concoction that’s got the tea world in a frenzy?
Well, we say new. Actually, matcha tea has been drunk for some time – since the Song Dynasty in China (960-1279), to be exact – but it has seen a huge resurgence lately in the Western world.
Matcha, a finely powdered green tea, has been used in Japanese tea ceremonies since the 12th Century. However, this is not like your regular green tea, brewed loose leaf or in teabags. The process of grinding the tea leaves to make the matcha powder means that you are actually ingesting the whole leaf (as opposed to the infusion that comes from steeping the leaves of your regular green tea).
The benefits of drinking green tea are no secret, and are an important factor of its rise in popularity in recent years. Considering the goodness that comes from drinking just the infusion of green tea, you can probably imagine why matcha – the whole ground leaf – is so good for us. Studies have shown that just one serving of matcha is the equivalent of 10 cups of normal green tea, giving us 137 times more antioxidants – helping to strengthen the body’s natural defense mechanisms against infection and illness. The presence of an amino acid called L-Theanine also means that drinking matcha can promote alertness but also calm, which is perfect for those mornings when you need to be on the ball but at the same time in a relaxed mental state.
In addition to matcha’s health-giving properties, it has grown popular in the fitness world for its ability to provide an energy kick without the jittery ‘buzz’ that comes with drinking too much coffee. This makes it particularly good as a pre-exercise drink to give your body and mind a boost, and has even been said to improve performance. Plus, matcha aficionados often praise the tea’s ability to boost metabolism, making it a great addition to a healthy diet for those wanting to lose weight and get fitter.
So – how do we prepare it?
Preparing matcha is a simple process that involves whisking half a teaspoon of matcha powder in hot – but not boiling! – water. Traditionally, this process is done using a chashaku (a small bamboo spoon, but a teaspoon will do!) to scoop the matcha powder into a tea bowl, known as a chawan (but again, a small cup or glass works too). Then you just whisk the powder in the hot water until all the lumps are dissolved. In Japan, this part would be done with a bamboo whisk called a chasen. While it’s definitely not necessary to have the specific utensils to go alongside your matcha drinking, we do stock everything you need – just pop into the shop and we’ll point you in the right direction! There’s something so calming about the routine of preparing matcha in the traditional way, watching the powdery tea become a bright green shot of goodness.
The taste does take some getting used to – it can be a bit of a ‘love it or hate it’ situation – but there are other ways you can drink it to dilute the taste. Instead of using just hot water, you could try whisking it in some orange juice, or hot milk for a matcha latte, with a natural sweetener such as honey or agave syrup to taste. Even if you’re not convinced by drinking matcha the traditional way with hot water, there are many other ways to enjoy its health properties!
So what do you think – time to try out matcha tea? We do two different types – Matcha Kotobuki (our higher grade matcha that is best served in the traditional way) and Matcha Izu (slightly lower grade so perfect for using in recipes).
Featured image credit to Brent via Flickr