People around the world have started to swap out their cups of coffee for cups of matcha, and for good reason! Matcha, a powdered green tea that originated from Japan, is delicious and has a multitude of health benefits. It’s a bit different than the green tea that you get in tea bags. It’s shade-grown and they harvest the leaves very young, remove the stems, and grind them into a powder. This process preserves the nutrients and keeps that bright green colour from the leaves. About ten years ago, green tea became hugely popular in the Western world. Not long after that, matcha became a popular drink for wellness enthusiasts and green tea lovers. You can find matcha lattes on the menu in almost every coffee shop and cafe.
Taste & preparation
A good quality matcha powder should be bright green and taste earthy and a bit sweet. Look for organic, “first harvest” matcha for the best quality. The younger the leaves, the smoother and sweeter the taste. If you like green tea, you will probably enjoy matcha even more because it is smoother and sweeter due to the younger, more tender leaves being used.
Matcha can be consumed either in milk or water, usually hot but sometimes cold. Traditionally, the powder is whisked with a special bamboo whisk in a small bowl with a little bit of boiling water at a time to fully incorporate the powder. Matcha lattes, made with matcha powder and steamed milk, are hugely popular because they have a delicious creamy texture, some froth on top, and a little sweetener to bring out the natural sweetness in the matcha. I’ve included a recipe for a lovely dairy-free matcha latte at the bottom of this article. It’s the recipe I make everyday on my work break!
Matcha contains caffeine, but not as much as coffee. If you’re looking to reduce your overall caffeine intake, you can start by swapping a cup or two of coffee for matcha. Green tea has less caffeine than matcha because you aren’t consuming the entire leaf like you do with matcha. Matcha does contain quite a bit of caffeine compared to most other teas (about the same amount as black tea), but it is noticeably gentler than a caffeine jolt from coffee, mostly due to the l-theanine content.
Green tea contains l-theanine, but matcha contains more of it because it is shade grown and processed very carefully while the leaves are fresh and young. L-theanine is an amino acid that has a naturally calming effect. Some people who are sensitive to caffeine and get jitters or anxiety from coffee do much better with matcha because of this. It also helps with mental focus, has anti-inflammatory effects (which supports a healthy immune system), and promotes restful sleep. If coffee makes you feel energized but in a jittery or uncomfortable way, matcha is a great substitute. It’s a fantastic beverage to drink on work or study breaks for calm, focused energy.
Green tea in general is well-known for its antioxidant properties, but matcha has the upperhand in this category. When you brew a cup of green tea, you place the tea bag with the leaves in boiling water for a few minutes, then remove the tea bag and drink the water. When you make matcha, you’re using the powder of ground up leaves and ingesting all of it. This means you get exceedingly more benefits from matcha than you do from green tea. One cup of matcha can have up to 10x the antioxidant content compared to regular steeped green tea.
Recipe for a dairy-free matcha latte
1 ½ cups of unsweetened dairy-free milk (any works, but my personal favourite is oat milk)
1 ½ teaspoons of organic matcha powder
2-3 teaspoons of raw honey
Notes: You can also make this iced! It’s delicious on a hot summer day. To make the iced matcha latte, put the (cold) milk, matcha, and honey in the blender and blend until fully combined, then pour into a large glass with a few ice cubes.
Contributed by Melanie Maxwell, R.H.N.