If you haven't yet already, it's time to meet matcha. Enjoyed for nearly a thousand years in Japanese and Chinese cultures, matcha is a type of tea made from high-quality, young, green tea leaves (Camellia sinensis) that have been stone ground into a very fine powder.
Drinking matcha tea involves consuming the entire leaf suspended (dissolved, as a powder) in water. This differs from standard drinking green tea, which is steeped, with eaves removed. Matcha is also unique in that the matcha tea plant is shaded about three weeks prior to cultivation. Additionally, the veins and stems are removed before leaves are ground.
Ready to learn more? Here are answers to five of the most common questions about this popular type of tea.
What does matcha taste like?
Green matcha powder has a smooth, earthy flavor that is particularly pleasurable when consumed in frothy tea form with the addition of milk and agave. When matcha is used as an ingredient in cooking or baking (coconut matcha macaroons, anyone?) it balances out sweet flavors.
Why should I drink matcha tea?
Matcha is a source of antioxidants in tea, or natural compounds that have the potential ability to protect healthy cells against UV exposure and other forms of oxidative stress. A 2003 research study from the University of Colorado showed that matcha contained over 100 times the amount of the antioxidant, ECGC, than green tea.*
Mtacha tea is also a source of the amino acid L-theanine. Although the amount of L-theanine in matcha is not well studied, its presence in the tea has been linked to supporting an alert yet calm mental state in some brain studies.*
Does it have a lot of caffeine?
At about 34 milligrams of caffeine, one cup of prepared matcha has about one third the caffeine of one cup of coffee, which has about 90 milligrams of caffeine. But the final amount may depend on how it’s prepared.
How do I prepare matcha tea?
Bowl and whisk method
(Just getting started? Try this matcha tea set available at Vitacost.com.)
- Add 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder to bowl through a fine sifter.
- Add 2 oz. of hot water that is just under boiling temperature.
- Whisk vigorously in side to side motion until tea is frothy.
- Enjoy straight from the bowl!
- Heat about 8 oz. of water.
- Add one or two drops of near-boiling water to 1 teaspoon of green matcha powder to make a paste.
- Add the remaining hot water to paste and stir.
- Adjust water and matcha to taste and enjoy!
How do I choose matcha?
1. Location: Among aficionados, Japan is said to produce the highest quality matcha powder.
- Ceremonial = The very best: to be used for whisked tea
- Classic = Great: to be used for whisked tea
- Café= Very good: to be used for lattes, cocktails and baking
- Kitchen= Good: to be used for lattes, cocktails, and baking
3. Color: Poor quality and undesirable oxidation will be evident for matcha that is dull and brownish in color.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
This article was contributed by Cristina Rebellon, RDN, registered dietitian nutritionist with The Little Clinic (inside select Kroger locations). For more information about dietitian services, visit www.thelittleclinic.com/dietitians.