I have been singing an “I love matcha” song for many months now. For me, the bold and bittersweet flavour makes matcha the perfect replacement to coffee, particularly at home.
This week I thought I would share 5 interesting facts about this mighty green tea and why I love it so.
1. A tea to be respected
There is more to matcha than meets the eye. To respect this tea you really need to appreciate the effort and skill required to produce it.
- tea plants are shaded 2-4 weeks prior to harvest to increase the chlorophyll content, or the bright green colour, in the leaves
- only the finest and youngest tea leaves are hand picked
- all of the rough fibres from the tea leaves are removed (e.g., stems and veins) to produce tencha, the raw material of matcha
- tencha is still processed following traditional methods. The tencha is slowly ground down between two granite stones to prevent overheating of the powder.
2. Increased levels of energy and alertness
Matcha typically contains higher levels of caffeine compared to steeped teas as you are consuming whole leaves when drinking matcha. Studies have reported that the caffeine content is similar to that found in a cup of coffee. However, due to the increased levels of L-Theanine, a naturally calming substance, increased energy levels do not come with the side-effects of hypertension and nervousness that can come from drinking coffee. This matcha buzz (calm alertness) is slowly released over a number of hours.
3. Health benefits
As you consume whole leaves, matcha contains a more potent source of vitamins and minerals, compared to steeped green tea. Matcha is most famous for its polyphenol compounds called catechins, a type of antioxidant linked to protection against heart disease and cancer, improved blood sugar regulation, blood pressure regulation and anti-aging. One of these polyphenols, epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), has also been shown to boost metabolism and slow the growth of cancer cells.
4. Not all matcha is created equal
A high-quality tasting matcha should be bright green in colour. You should be able to detect subtle grassy and ocean air notes and possibly sweet tail notes of cocoa and berry fruits. The tea should provide a full mouth feel, taste rich and pleasant. There are varying grades of matcha available for different usage. For example, I would always suggest using a culinary grade for cooking, as opposed to a tasting (ceremonial) grade matcha.
Only green tea powder manufactured in the style described above has earned the right to be called matcha otherwise it is green tea powder. The flavour and nutrient profile will differ significantly between these products.
5. Steeped in tradition
Matcha is the tea used as part of the famous Japanese tea ceremony, known as Chado, Sado, or Chanoyu in Japan. Try to take 15 minutes out of your day to sit down, prepare the matcha and enjoy the drink that you have created. This small ritual is a great way to respect and honour this tea.
My preferred choice when it comes to this tea is DōMatcha® Organic Ceremonial Grade as it is a superior representation of this traditional and famous Japanese tea and can be purchased at The Steepery Tea Co. I encourage you to research and sample many matcha products as you will find unique aroma and flavour profiles in every one.