Most of us have heard the word before and Matcha has certainly never been trendier. But knowing what it is, is important to know what you are drinking. Just like Coffee or food, knowing how to use Matcha is just as important, if not more. The preparation is important and if you like it, you will find that Matcha is a great, healthier alternative to coffee that will give you a longer caffeine distribution without the jitters.
What are the Benefits of Matcha?
- Is packed with antioxidants including the powerful EGCg
- Boosts metabolism and burns calories like a bomb!
- Detoxifies effectively and naturally
- Calms the mind and relaxes the body
- Is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins ( about 10 times as much as a cup of green tea)
- Enhances mood and aids in concentration
- Provides vitamin C, selenium, chromium, zinc and magnesium
- Prevents disease
- Lowers cholesterol and blood sugar
So What is Matcha?
Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It is special in two aspects of farming and processing: the green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth, the plant Camellia sinensis produces more theanine and caffeine. The powdered form of matcha is consumed differently from tea leaves or tea bags, and is dissolved in a liquid, typically water or milk.
What is it Used For?
The traditional Japanese tea ceremony centers on the preparation, serving, and drinking of matcha as hot tea and embodies a meditative spiritual style. In modern times, matcha also has come to be used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery. Matcha used in ceremonies is referred to as ceremonial-grade matcha, meaning that the matcha powder is of a high enough quality to be used in the tea ceremony. Lower quality matcha is referred to as culinary-grade matcha, but there is no standard industry definition or requirements for either.
Matcha can be categorized into three grades:
Ceremonial grade: This is the highest quality used mainly in tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples. This is stone ground into a powder by granite stone mills. It is high quality but expensive (~$100–140 for 100g). The unschooled drinker is unlikely to notice a large difference between Ceremonial and Premium grade. Ceremonial is characterized by subtle tones of “Umami”.
Premium grade: High quality matcha green tea that contains the full nutritional content and uses tea leaves from the top of the tea plant. Price point (~$50–80 for 100g). Best for daily consumption and contains the full range of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Is characterized by a fresh, subtle flavor. Usually perfect for both new and everyday matcha drinkers alike.
Cooking/culinary grade: Cheapest of all (~$15–40 for 100g). Suitable for cooking purposes. Slightly bitter due to using leaves lower down on the green tea plant.
In general, matcha is expensive compared to other forms of tea, although its price depends on its quality.