Matcha tea for newbies
I first came across matcha tea a couple of years ago. I was having a cup of coffee with my friends while enjoying the amazing view of Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh. It was one of those cosy Sundays.
We were rambling as usual until I saw someone ordering a peculiar drink with a vibrant green colour and a quite rich and thick texture. I tried to understand what it was and soon found out. Oh, the pleasure of discovery!
But it seems that what I had just discovered was not another newly invented drink with an Insta-worthy appeal, but a traditional beverage that has been part of traditional Japanese tea rituals since the 12th century.
What’s matcha tea?
Matcha tea is a type of green tea made by taking young tea leaves and grinding them into a fine green powder. It comes from the same tea plant as green tea, the shrub Camelia sinensis.
What gives matcha tea its special properties, is the fact that its leaves grow on green tea bushes kept under shade. This allows for the plant to concentrate many nutrients in its leaves while achieving a high chlorophyl content, which is what gives tea its distinctive bright colour.
The origins of Matcha can be traced back to the 7th century in China. Nowadays, the best matcha tea is thought to be from Japan and particularly from the Southern half of the country. Once the leaves are harvested, they are laid out to air dry and they are then milled into a fine powder.
Matcha tea and its health benefits
Matcha tea is associated with many health benefits. The tea powder is rich in L-theanine, an amino acid that increases feelings of calmness. Although a lot of people use matcha tea as an alternative to coffee due to its caffeine content, the calming effect of L-theanine seems to balance the stimulant properties of the tea. In terms of its nutritional content, one cup of matcha equals 10 cups of regularly brewed green tea.
Here are some additional properties of matcha tea:
It is rich in antioxidants including the powerful EGCG (EGCG is a compound that reduces inflamation and helps in the prevention of chronic diseases). Its high-antioxidant and vitamin content makes matcha tea effective in boosting our immune system.
It boosts metabolism and helps the body burn more calories
It has detoxifying properties
It has calming and relaxing properties
It is rich in fiber, chlorophyll and vitamins
It improves our mood as well as our focus and concentration
It provides useful nutrients such as selenium, magnesium and zinc as well as trace minerals such as chromium
It lowers cholesterol and blood sugar levels
How to make matcha at home?
After getting into the nitty-gritty, you must wonder if one can enjoy all health benefits mentioned above from the comfort of their home. Well, of course! All you need is a matcha bowl, a whisk and matcha powder.
Warm up some water at 176 degrees Fahrenheit (that would be 80 degrees Celsius).
Pour some of this water into the matcha bowl. Pour it out after a minute.
Take 2 teaspoons of matcha powder and sift it through a sieve to get rid of possible clumps.
Add a tiny amount of water in your matcha bowl and whisk.
5. Add the rest of the water and keep on whisking it (follow a zigzag motion) until the mixture gets foamy. 6. Put it into a cup and enjoy your homemade matcha tea!
Of course, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy matcha green tea. There are plenty of recipes for matcha pancakes, matcha cake, matcha oatmeal and matcha ice-cream. However, I must say that although I am not really a tea person, I prefer enjoying matcha as a steamy beverage - I love original recipes and flavours!
What I love about making my own matcha tea at home is its slightly grassy smell and the gentle buzz it gives me due to its simultaneously calming and stimulating effect- it's perfect for working from home in the afternoon!