Matcha literally means “powdered tea” in Japanese. Here are some things you should know about matcha:
1. Matcha is a special form of green tea. The main difference between matcha and green tea is that with matcha, you are drinking the leaves itself because it is grinded into powder and as for green tea, leaves are infused into hot water and will be discarded afterwards. Matcha is also harvested differently because the tea plants are covered with cloth before they are harvested, which allows the leaves to gain deeper flavors, textures, and nutrients.
2. Matcha has a lot of health benefits because it is rich in antioxidants like polyphenols, which reduces the risks of having heart disease and cancer, reduces blood pressure and promotes anti-aging; and in addition to having another type of polyphenol called EGCG, that helps to boost metabolism and prevents cancer cells from developing further.
3. Matcha contains caffeine, three times higher compared to a normal cup of tea. Ironically, it also has a substance called l-theanine which induces relaxation. However, one is adviced to not consume matcha at least six hours before you sleep to have a good night’s sleep.
4. Matcha has been an integral part of Japanese tea ceremonies, a type of meditation. Meditation has been shown to decrease the stress hormone, cortisol; reduces blood pressure, and boosts self-esteem and a sense of compassion.
5. The flavor of matcha is strong – people describe it as grass or spinach-like and it has sort of an umami taste. Some people opt to buy sweetened versions of matcha but matcha experts do not recommend this because it may affect the quality, freshness and pureness of the matcha.
6. Did you know that the tea leaves contain lead even if they are grown organically? For matcha in the form of grinded tea leaves, or having originated from it; most of the lead remains in the product, much unlike green tea where the leaves are only infused into water, causing less lead to be released into the drink. Thus, experts recommend drinking only a cup of matcha a day and to avoid serving it to children.
7. Matcha is a very versatile ingredient. As you can see, many restaurants have been incorporating it to various items in their menus (I will recommend some specialty matcha restaurants soon). You can incorporate matcha into deserts like muffins, brownies and puddings, or in savory dishes.
Overall, you should buy high quality organic matcha which ensures the flavor, freshness and your safety in consuming it. Enjoy your matcha but always in moderation.