As someone who used to work in PR for food companies, it never ceases to amaze me how many new products and supplements keep springing forth seemingly out of nowhere. Just when you thought you’ve seen everything, another amazing food or beverage comes along that is rich in antioxidants, has more vitamins and minerals than you could poke a stick at, and will have at least five amazing benefits for your health. Oh, and typically comes from Asia or South America where everything that grows seems to have more antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Matcha is gaining popularity in the same healthfood scene as coconut oil, cauliflower pizza bases and cacao powder, and matcha-infused foods have been filling Instagram feeds everywhere. Now, I’m not much of one to get sucked into gimmicky new ‘superfoods’ (urgh. I feel this is such an overused buzzword these days!), but when I was sent some matcha powder to road test, I figured I’d give it a go and it was actually something I’d be happy to use on a regular basis.
Here’s what I learned about matcha tea.
Matcha is a special type of Japanese green tea that is made from stoneground high-quality tea leaves which have been prepared in a specific way. It is traditionally used in tea ceremonies and is associated with meditation.
What makes it so special?
As the leaves are ground, the powder retains all the health benefits of the original tea leaf (as opposed to normal green tea which is typically steeped in water and then the original tea leaves discarded).
Research from the University of Colorado has shown that the concentration of epigallocatechin gallate – or EGCG, a catechin/antioxidant that promotes cardiovascular health and protects against cancer – available from drinking matcha is at least three times higher than that of other green teas and a whopping 137 times higher than one particular green tea brand that was tested.
It also reportedly increases energy levels, increases mental focus, lowers cholesterol and blood sugar, detoxifies and also boosts metabolism.
How can I use matcha?
Traditionally, matcha is used to make a tea. I made the mistake of not reading the instructions that were provided and dumped a heaped spoonful into a small teacup of coconut milk the first time I tried it as a drink which resulted in a brew so bitter I couldn’t finish it! I ended up using a half flattened teaspoon the next time I made it which was just right; remember that a little goes a long way with matcha.
To make your matcha tea, a kit would typically contain a scoop for serving the powder (chashaku), a bamboo whisk (chasen) to mix the tea and froth it up, and some matcha powder.
Other than that, you can really use your imagination when it comes to using matcha – especially as its vibrant green colour can make for impressive and colourful food presentation. Incorporate the powder into anything you would like to give a green tea flavour, and a boosted dose of antioxidants. Lattes, smoothies, desserts… I’ve seen some rather beautiful matcha cheesecakes, macarons and also some delish raw energy balls. I’d love to hear what other creative things you’ve seen matcha in (or that you’ve tried making yourself). Comment below and let me know 🙂
Image / NZ Real Health
Matcha Matcha Latte Grade (60g)