Nothing beats the relaxing effects of a cup of hot tea at the end of the day — especially if you pair it with a good book. Matcha; this bright, Japanese green tea powder can turn your latte into a gorgeous shade of green. But did you know that it also has health benefits? Let’s learn a little more about what matcha can do for us and the different ways we can incorporate it in our diet.
Matcha is no ordinary green tea; it is a step above the rest. Matcha has been consumed in Japan since the 12th-century. The word matcha literally translates to “fine powder tea,” which refers to how it is made. Matcha tea is made from shade-grown green tea leaves that are laid out flat to dry after harvesting. The slightly crumbled, dried leaves are called tencha, which is them ground into the fine green powder we know as matcha. Since matcha’s introduction to Japan in the 12th-century, it has been a cornerstone of the Japanese tea ceremony, a traditional ritual that is still performed to this day.
Matcha has long been consumed for its health benefits. Not only does it have a high ORAC value (oxygen radical absorbance capacity)137 times the amount of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (ECEG) than any other green tea. Studies have shown that ECEG may prove effective in the treatment of HIV-1 and cancer. Some studies have also shown that regular consumption of matcha may stimulate your metabolism, leading to faster weight loss. Matcha also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that has been proven to lower anxiety.
To brew matcha tea, the powder is carefully measured and then whisked vigorously with water using a bamboo whisk, resulting in a bright green tea with a pleasant, earthy aroma. Matcha has a sweet, grassy flavor that will vary depending on the grade of powder and the region it was grown in. Some varieties may be on the sweeter side while others will taste more bitter.
To make a cup of matcha, boil 1/2 a cup of water, pour it into a tall mug, and let it sit for 3-4 minutes. Then, add 1/2 teaspoon of matcha powder and whisk vigorously until the tea is lump-free. It should be slightly foamy on top. Take a small sip, then add your preferred non-dairy milk and sweetener to taste. If you have an espresso machine or a handheld milk frother, then you can try making this Cafe-Style Matcha Tea Latte. And when it’s hot outside, try this refreshing Iced Matcha Green Tea Frappé.
Matcha is very versatile and can be used in recipes beyond beverages. In Japan, you can find all kinds of sweets flavored with matcha, from matcha Pocky to matcha Kit Kats. Try these matcha-flavored Superfood White Chocolate Squares or these Matcha and Macadamia White Chocolate Mini Cups, which are very similar to the “chocolate” coating you will find in both of those desserts. You can also find traditional desserts flavored with matcha. Add matcha to the mochi dough in this Ichigo Daifuku, a dessert that consists of mochi stuffed with sweet red bean paste and a fresh strawberry. For something less traditional, but still delicious, try this Grilled Matcha Mochi stuffed with red bean paste. You can also use you matcha-infused mochi to make these Matcha Mochi Strawberry Popsicles.
Before I cut dairy out of my diet, one of my favorite things to order at Japanese restaurants was green tea ice cream. It’s sweet, but earthy, and so creamy. Luckily, it’s easy to make matcha dairy free ice cream at home! Try this 2-Minute Matcha Ice Cream With Baklava Sprinkles, which is made from bananas or these Healthy Matcha Coconut Pops made from coconut milk.
In Japan, you will often find green tea soba noodles, which are eaten chilled during the summer. This simple Green Tea Noodle dish is the next best thing; it is made by infusing cooked rice noodles with matcha and spirulina. Or, you can add a pinch of matcha to these gluten-free Homemade Udon Noodles.
Matcha should not be too hard to find. You might find it in the tea or international aisle of your local grocery store. Otherwise, opt for grocery stores that carry specialty items like Whole Foods, Fairway, or the nearest Asian grocery store. If you are lucky enough to live near a specialty tea store, you can try there as well. Otherwise, you can order matcha online.
This Jade Leaf Organics Matcha Green Tea Powder is harvested from a single estate family farm in Japan and is perfect for use in smoothies, desserts, baking, and making tea. One 1-ounce bag costs $9.95. If you just want to make yourself a cup of tea, try this Kirkland Ito En Matcha Blend Japanese Green Tea, which is a blend of matcha and sencha, another variety of Japanese green tea. One box of 100 bags costs $21.45. Or, you can try this Jade Monk On-The-Go Matcha Green Tea. It is instant tea, just mix it with 12 ounces of water and you’re good to go! One box of 12 packets costs $13.49. Finally, if you want to brew your matcha the traditional way with powder, you will need the proper tools. Tools like this uVernal Matcha Whisk and Tea Spoon Natural Bamboo Matcha Green Tea Powder Bamboo Whisk have been used in Japanese tea-making ceremonies for centuries are the perfect way for ensuring a lump-free cup of matcha. This hand-crafted set of a bamboo whisk and spoon costs $14.99.
If you want to make dishes with green tea noodles without going through the process of making your own, try these Jansal Valley Cha Soba Noodles. One 7-ounce package costs $10.39. Just keep in mind that although some brands of soba are made with 100 percent buckwheat flour, making them gluten-free, this brand contains wheat.
Now that you know how matcha is traditionally used, it’s time learn how else we can use this superfood tea — and there are so many ways to do it.
Try adding a small amount of matcha to your smoothies. Try it in this Green Superfood Detox Smoothie, this Tropical Green Spirulina Smoothie, or this Mango and Hemp Seed Smoothie. The idea is to add it to smoothies that are already green. For example, if you add matcha to a pink smoothie, the color will turn brown; but if you don’t mind that, then go for it! If you like smoothie bowls, try it in this Green Energy Smoothie Bowl With Fresh Figs.
Try using matcha for breakfast. This Superfood Matcha Porridge is made by cooking oats in sweetened, matcha and cinnamon-infused non-dairy milk. Or, add it to any oatmeal dish. Try these simple Matcha Oatmeal Pancakes made from oats and almond flour or add a pinch of matcha to these simple 2-Ingredient Oatmeal Banana Blender Pancakes. If you feel like getting fancy, you can even whip up a batch of these Matcha Crêpes and serve them with fresh, seasonal fruit.
Desserts are a fun way to add matcha to your diet. Try easy to make raw desserts, like these Raw Matcha Caramels, these Matcha Raspberry Bliss Balls, or these Raw Vanilla, Matcha and Coconut Macaroons. Then, try something more advanced, like these Mini Matcha Cheesecakes and this Matcha Vanilla Cheesecake.
You can also add matcha to your baked goods. Both the cake and the frosting in these Matcha Green Tea Cupcakes are infused with matcha, so they taste sweet and earthy. These Matcha Green Tea Chocolate Chip Brownies are another easy treat to make and these Matcha Glazed Vanilla Bean Doughnuts With Matcha Cream Filling are unlike any doughnut you’ll ever try.
Matcha is so versatile and there are so many other ways to add it to your food. For more information, read How to Use Tea as an Ingredient When Cooking and then check out our vegan matcha recipes page.
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