By Kathleen Corlett
In the past couple of years, you’ve no doubt seen its name on coffee shop menus and labelling baked goods. But what is matcha, anyway? Well, meet the trendy powdered tea that deserves a place in your pantry — and in your daily routine.
Why it’s Good For You
Consider matcha the big brother to traditional green tea. Ground from green tea leaves rather than steeped, the powder is thought to retain even more of the same health perks attributed to antioxidant-rich OGT (original green tea).
Thanks to at least three times the concentration of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant already found in green tea, benefits of matcha include anti-aging properties, increased metabolism, and even protection against cancer.
And then there’s the energy boost: Though a cup of matcha tea matches the caffeine equivalent of a cup of coffee, it’s been said that you feel less jittery and more of a calm alertness after a mug of matcha tea.
How to Make Matcha Tea at Home
While you can certainly order it at a bakery or coffee shop, making matcha tea (or usucha) at home offers an experience that’s more authentic to its origins in Japanese tea ceremonies and is much healthier. Plus, you can indulge in matcha’s surprisingly savory, seaweed-like true flavor, rather than the sugar-coated versions served at trendy coffee shops. (A grande green tea latte from Starbucks made from matcha tea blend, for example, contains 32 grams—nearly 3 tablespoons!—of sugar.)
Start by checking that the powder you pick up from a health foods store is pure matcha. Typically imported from Japan, the best stuff will be a bright green and have a short ingredients list on the package that does not lead with “sugar” and “powdered milk.”
Pour 1 cup boiling water into a bowl (or your widest-rimmed mug), sift ½ to 1 teaspoon of matcha through a tea strainer over top, and then rapidly stir with a bamboo brush. The whisking action is key to the creamy consistency of the drink as it suspends the powder throughout the water. Wait too long to drink, and the matcha sinks to the bottom until stirred once more.
Note: First-time matcha drinkers who are nervous about its strong flavor can cut some of the bitterness by substituting steamed milk for the hot water.
Make Matcha-Flavored Treats
Its powdery form also makes it easy to add a dash here and there (typically ½ to 1 teaspoon of matcha per serving) while baking or cooking.
A quick online search will reveal that you can add matcha powder to anything from pancakes to smoothies, but we love adding it to truffles or doughnuts for a dash of healthy in our dessert. With all of the flavor and health perks packed into just a spoonful of matcha, you’ve got nothing to lose!