If you’re looking to shake up your routine with some new, healthy habits, then green tea may be just what you need. While many people are familiar with its calming effects, few know about one specific variety that’s gaining popularity as an anti-inflammatory powerhouse—Matcha. In this article we will detail how to prepare Matcha Tea.
The word “Matcha” means powdered or ground tea in Japanese (it was previously known simply by the term te). It can also refer to any type of high quality ceremonial grade green tea, but true matchas have been produced since at least the eighth century when monks began growing their own tea on mountain slopes in China. Today, this practice has evolved into small farms where leaf production is meticulously controlled and supervised.
As such it offers much higher concentrations of antioxidants than other types of green tea. In fact, 1 ounce (28 grams) of traditional Chinese green tea contains only 0.2 milligrams of polyphenols, whereas matcha produces 4.8 milligrams per serving. This translates to more antioxidant power than black tea, which typically provides 2-3 mg per 8 fluid ounces, and even coffee, which boasts around 5.5 mg per cup!
While most varieties of green tea contain caffeine, matcha does not because it hasn’t yet fully oxidized — meaning it still retains all the beneficial properties found naturally within the plant without being bitter. As a result, those who consume matcha find they feel energized rather than fatigued after drinking it. Its unique taste makes it popular among both beginners and experienced drinkers alike. Since matcha doesn’t require steep time like regular green teas do, it’s ready to drink right out of the jar if desired. And while it might seem expensive compared to other forms of green tea, it actually costs less per gram than standard loose leaf tea, making it affordable for everyone.
Read on to learn more about what exactly matcha is, how it differs from other types of green tea, and why it’s becoming so popular. We’ll also discuss preparing matcha, creating ice cubes infused with matcha, using matcha in recipes, and answering some frequently asked questions.
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What Is Matcha?
In Japan, the highest honor bestowed upon someone is called metsuke (“blessing”), and it isn’t given lightly. Only those deemed worthy of receiving a metsuke are permitted to use the sacred Buddhist ritual preparation method used to make matcha. The process begins with finely grinding fresh green tea leaves. Then, instead of steeping them in hot water, these tea masters add very small amounts of warm water to produce a smooth paste called matcha. They then spread it onto rice cakes and allow it to absorb the moisture before eating. To ensure the best flavor, it should be consumed immediately following brewing.
Matcha powder comes primarily from two places in Asia — either Taiwan, Korea, or China depending on preference. Taiwanese and Korean methods differ slightly, though both employ similar practices to achieve their final product. Both start off by harvesting the young leaves during midwinter months when they form tightly packed clusters that grow along the branches of Camellia Sinensis plants. After removing the outer layer of leaves, workers carefully remove the individual bud clusters from the stems and pluck away any extra leaves until there are no more tender ones left. These bud clusters are placed into bins and allowed to dry slowly over multiple days so they don’t spoil. Once completely dried, they are removed and sent off to factories for further processing.
China uses a different approach. Here farmers collect the same tea leaves year round and harvest them according to season. During peak seasons like autumn, they pick the buds early on and leave them unprocessed for several weeks. When spring arrives, workers separate the entire bud cluster and grind them together to create highly concentrated Matcha. At this point, the leaves are entirely separated from each other and therefore offer a wide range of flavors based on maturity. Some buds will be relatively soft due to lack of exposure to sunlight, while others will be harder and tougher. There is also variation between years due to weather conditions. All these factors contribute to producing varying levels of bitterness and sweetness in the finished product. For example, a good 2014 crop might yield a sweeter version, whereas a bad 2015 crop could end up tasting drier.
Once the leaves are processed, the resulting powder is sold under various names including tsukemono (when mixed with sugar), chadaikoku (or chaikei) for medicinal purposes, and gyokuro (super premium) for connoisseurs seeking something truly special. Because of its intense concentration, it takes roughly 35 pounds of raw material to produce just 15 cups of matcha. That said, modern technology allows producers to increase productivity through mechanization and automation.
Today, most commercially available Matcha Tea originates from Japan where it enjoys widespread popularity as well as reverence from religious groups. Unlike traditional Chinese green tea, however, Japanese matcha cannot technically be referred to as green tea despite containing chlorophyll. Instead, it’s categorized as yamogawacha (green tea.) This distinction refers specifically to the fermentation process required to obtain its vibrant color. It must undergo oxidation quickly and thoroughly in order to become bright yellow in appearance. If done correctly, the resulting tea will retain many of the benefits attributed to green tea, but won’t impart a grassy smell typical of younger leaves.
Although matcha originated in East Asian countries, today it is mainly grown in Japan, South Korea, and China. But regardless of location, farming techniques vary little across regions. Farmers take great care to ensure proper cultivation in order to consistently provide beautiful products. One way to determine whether the farmer did his job properly is to look closely at the leaves themselves. Look for veins running horizontally across the surface of the leaflet. If the vein runs vertically, it indicates poor growth and possibly disease. According to experts, a vertical vein suggests a weak tea tree. A horizontal vein is considered strong enough to support another generation of tea trees.
This is important because although tea trees live long lives, they aren’t immortal. Each successive generation of tea requires optimal nourishment to produce top-quality crops. Therefore, once a farm owner determines he wants to pass down his business, he often replants the original mother tree with healthier saplings. He continues doing this throughout generations to maintain consistency in quality standards.
Now that we’ve learned more about what matcha is, let’s talk about some ways to enjoy it. Read ahead to discover easy ways to incorporate it into your daily life.
Here are five simple tips to help reduce inflammation:
1. Eat foods rich in omega 3 fats like fish oil supplements, nuts, seeds, and flaxseed. Omega fatty acids play critical roles in human nutrition by providing essential building blocks for cell membranes, promoting cardiovascular health, reducing cholesterol, and boosting immunity against infection.
2. Avoid trans fat and limit saturated fats and hydrogenated vegetable oils as much as possible. Trans fats raise LDL blood cholesterol levels and put us at risk for heart disease. Saturated fats cause plaque buildups inside our arteries leading to blockages. Hydrogenated vegetable oils change into solid form at room temperature and are difficult to digest. Although manufacturers claim these additives enhance food shelf life and improve texture, studies show otherwise.
3. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats sparingly when possible. These fats lower total cholesterol and triglyceride counts in addition to improving circulation. Examples include avocados, olive oil, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, hazelnuts, sesame seeds, peanuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds.
4. Increase intake of fruits and vegetables rich in carotenoids and phytonutrients. Carotenoid pigments protect cells from free radical damage caused by UV radiation, pollutants, and ionizing radiations. Phytonutrient compounds give fruits and vegetables their colors and act as powerful antioxidants. Their role in fighting cancer and aging processes has gained increasing interest lately.
5. Drink plenty of fluids. Water keeps everything moving smoothly inside our bodies. Dehydration causes fatigue and stress on organs causing imbalance. Other options include herbal teas, decaffeinated sodas, fruit juices, milk, unsweetened cocoa drinks, and green tea. Drinking lots of water also helps flush toxins from our systems more efficiently. Aim for eight glasses every day to stay hydrated.
Let’s move on to learning how to store and serve matcha.
How to Store Matcha Tea
For centuries, Japanese Buddhists believed that consuming matcha would restore energy and promote spiritual enlightenment. However, beginning in the 1970s, Westerners became increasingly interested in taking advantage of the tea’s purported health benefits. Nowadays, researchers continue to study matcha’s effects on human health, and it seems that this unique tea is gaining popularity all over the world.
If you’re new to matcha, you might be wondering how to store it properly. Read on for a few tips to help keep your matcha fresh.
1. Store matcha in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
2. Avoid exposure to heat, light, or moisture.
3. Do not refrigerate matcha.
4. If matcha is stored properly, it can last for up to two years.
5. Once opened, matcha should be used within six months.
How to Prepare Matcha Tea
Now that you know how to store matcha, let’s move on to learning how to prepare it.
1. Sift matcha powder through a fine mesh sifter to remove any clumps.
2. Place 1-2 grams of matcha in a cup or bowl.
3. Pour hot water (about 80 degrees Celsius) over the matcha and stir with a bamboo whisk until the tea is frothy.
Now that you know how to store and prepare matcha, it’s time to enjoy this delicious tea.
Note: Matcha Tea does require hot, but not boiling water for preparation. If the water is too hot, it will scald the tea and make it bitter. If the water is not hot enough, the tea will not dissolve properly. To get an exact temperature needed, 176F (80C), I usually use an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting. If you prefer a milder tea, lower the temperature to 158F.
When preparing Matcha, be sure to use a bamboo whisk (chasen) and a sifter (chashaku). These two tools are essential for making a smooth cup of matcha.
A chasen is a bamboo whisk that is used to mix the matcha and hot water together. It is important to use a whisk that is made of bamboo, as other materials may not be heat-resistant.
A chashaku is a bamboo scoop that is used to measure the correct amount of matcha powder for each cup. This tool is also essential for ensuring that the Matcha is properly mixed with the hot water.
How to Serve Matcha Tea
Matcha tea ceremonies are a centuries-old Japanese tradition. The elaborate rituals surrounding the preparation and consumption of Matcha are based on principles of harmony, respect, etiquette, and tranquility.
While you don’t need to follow all the traditional rules to enjoy a good cup of Matcha, there are a few things to keep in mind when serving this tea.
1. Matcha should be served in a small cup or bowl.
2. Matcha should be drunk immediately after it is prepared.
3. Do not add milk, sugar, or other sweeteners to matcha.
4. Matcha can be enjoyed on its own or with light snacks such as biscuits or cake.
5. Matcha should not be consumed late in the day, as it can be energizing.
Matcha is a unique tea that offers a variety of health benefits. When prepared and served correctly, it is a delicious and refreshing drink that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. Thanks for reading!