Matcha is the newest ingredient making waves across all coffee and pastry shops. With its bright green color, matcha definitely adds a pop of color to the otherwise dull brown that coffee and tea usually sports.
Originally, matcha was used exclusively for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. But this green tea has gone global — it’s practically everywhere now.
How matcha is made
What’s so interesting about matcha is the way that it’s made. While regular green tea is made by plucking tea leaves and dehydrating them for storage and shipment, matcha uses a more complicated process that makes it even more coveted.
Matcha is made only from young leaves picked from green tea bushes that have been grown under the shade. Because the bushes are shaded, the leaves contain even more chlorophyll, which is what makes matcha so bright green.
The plucked leaves are then ground into a fine powder using traditional stone grinding methods. The grinding process is done in the dark to prevent nutrient loss; it takes about an hour to finish grinding since it has to be done slowly.
Health benefits of matcha
Regular green tea is rich in antioxidants called catechins, which help reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes, as well as promote weight loss. But matcha, green tea’s superpowered cousin, has an abundance of a very specific catechin called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been associated with populations with lower incidences of cancer. Matcha tea has even been found to lower blood pressure and bad cholesterol.
Ingesting matcha also increases the production of L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps promote relaxation without feeling drowsy. This leads to increased focus, and relief from anxiety and stress.
The taste of matcha
Unlike regular green tea, matcha does not taste like hot water with a leafy aftertaste. Matcha does not contain stems and veins, and so it does not have a grainy texture. Because high-quality matcha uses the tea leaves that were grown in the shade, when steeped it should produce a bright green color. When tasted, matcha has a slightly sweet quality to it; it should have zero bitterness to it whatsoever.
Choosing the right matcha
A lot of people debate whether ceremonial-grade or
culinary-grade matcha is better. While ceremonial-grade matcha uses younger tea leaves and produces a delicate flavor, culinary-grade matcha uses older leaves, making for a flavor profile that is more robust and can handle being mixed in with different ingredients. However, the quality of the taste is really dependent on the producer or supplier.
Some companies use low-grade leaves, or do not use traditional stone grinding in an effort to cut corners or costs. These choices can reduce the overall quality of the matcha powder, which can affect the taste regardless of the tea’s grade and designation.
Making matcha tea
Making matcha tea traditionally involves a few more tools than just a cup to pour the ingredients in. Use a sifter to avoid clumps as you pour the powder into your cup or bowl. Then, add warm water and whisk it. In traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, a bamboo whisk called a chasen is used.
Catherine Park is a content marketer presently working with Back Office Pro, a Business process outsourcing company. A writer by day and a reader by night, she loves working in the ever-changing world of digital marketing and is fascinated by the role content plays in today’s marketing.