We all love a cup of perfectly brewed tea, whether it’s to start our day with some freshness or to call it a night with some relaxation and rejuvenation. However, in the world of teas, there are only a few beverages that captivate your senses and promise holistic wellness, quite like Matcha Tea.
The vibrant green brew brims with health benefits and is deeply rooted in the Japanese tea culture. It is believed to be healthier than most other green teas. Moreover, Matcha green tea transcends the status of “tea” to embody a ritual most commonly seen in Japanese and Zen Buddhist traditions.
You may wonder, “What makes Matcha green tea a cut above the rest of the green tea?” Well, the answer is A lot of things! Even more so when the cup of Matcha is sourced straight from the lands of Kagoshima Prefecture, like the Matcha tea at ILEM JAPAN.
If you promise to stay with us till the end, we promise to tell you everything there is to learn about Matcha Tea, from how it’s cultivated to how it benefits you!
What Is Matcha Tea?
Like Sencha, Hojicha, and Genmaicha, Matcha tea is a green tea that hails from Japan. It is a fine-grained powder of the leaves of a young, shade-grown plant called Camellia sinensis.
Matcha Tea, especially the one at ILEM JAPAN, is cultivated under double cover, with 95% sunlight blockage. This precise growing method enhances the flavor and reduces the astringency of this Japanese green tea. Furthermore, the 20-day shading period enriches the tea's taste, promising a delightful sweetness unmatched by others.
What makes it so unique is the significance of the first harvest. The first harvest boasts an unmatched flavor profile, thanks to all the nutrients accumulated in the previous fall. The result? A little bitter and a lot more nuttier and creamier green brew that soothes your body and mind.
But mind you! There are different grades of Matcha tea, each known for something different. Here’s a quick overview!
Ceremonial-grade matcha tea, as the name suggests, is the finest and purest form of tea used in tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples. This tea must be suited for use in koicha, “thick tea” that has a higher proportion of powder to water.
The premium-grade is ideal for an everyday brew. It is made from young leaves off the top of the plant and boasts a fresh, grassy, and subtle flavor profile. The premium grade of Matcha is characterized by a more intense sweetness and deeper flavor compared to other grades of Matcha that are harvested later in the year.
Cooking or culinary-grade matcha is suited for cooking purposes. For instance, smoothies. It is also the cheapest of all grades. However, this particular grade of Matcha tastes a little more bitter than others. This is primarily because it is produced from leaves lower on the plant and the time of harvest.
How Does Matcha Tea Differ From Other Types of Japanese Green Tea?
Health Benefits of Matcha
Powerhouse of Antioxidant
Antioxidants are important for your body to fight off the free radicals. "Why?" you may ask. That's because free radicals lead to oxidative stress in the body. Oxidative stress, in turn, may lead to several other issues, including –
- Damage to cells
- Premature aging
- Weak immune functioning
Matcha Tea contains antioxidants called catechins, more specifically EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate). Besides fighting off free radicals, EGCG is known to protect your heart and reduce inflammation. In fact, it is believed that drinking matcha tea can give you more antioxidants than drinking other Japanese green tea.
Boosts Metabolism and Energy Levels
Matcha also serves as a natural metabolism and energy booster. Matcha helps increase thermogenesis, the body's capacity to burn calories, thanks to its rich catechin content, especially EGCG. By increasing fat oxidation, this metabolic increase aids in weight management.
Furthermore, Matcha gives you energy steadily, rather than the quick rush and crash that coffee gives. Caffeine and L-theanine work together in a unique way that promotes a relaxed yet concentrated mental state by providing a mild but long-lasting sense of alertness.
Increases Mental Focus and Induces Relaxation
The combination of Matcha's caffeine and L-theanine provides outstanding mental benefits. The amino acid L-theanine induces calm without making you sleepy, in contrast to the stimulating effects of coffee. Combining these in such a balanced way promotes a calm, collected frame of mind, which in turn improves mental performance.
Whether you're getting ready for a busy day or just want to relax, Matcha can help you stay focused and alert without the usual jitters that coffee causes.
Supports Detoxification and Immune System
Matcha is becoming known as a powerful drink that can help your body clean and feel better. Its abundance of antioxidants protects cells from damage caused by free radicals and strengthens the immune system.
An important antioxidant in Matcha, Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), helps cells repair and regenerate, which is good for your health in general. In addition to fostering internal balance, the chlorophyll component of this food aids in the body's natural detoxifying processes and the elimination of pollutants.
The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals in Matcha work together to build a strong immune system and promote energy and vigor.
How to Prepare Matcha Tea?
Now that you know about Matcha's origin and health benefits, let's look at how to brew the perfect cup of this Japanese green tea.
Make It the Traditional Way
What you'll need:
- Tea bowl (chawan)
- Matcha sifter (chakoshi)
- Bamboo whisk (chasen)
- Start by sifting 1-2 teaspoons of Matcha green tea powder into a ceramic bowl (chawan) using a fine-mesh sieve (chakoshi). Make sure you do this step well to avoid lumps.
- Next, heat water to approximately 70-80°C (158-176°F) and let it cool down a little.
- Once cooled for a while, pour approximately 60-80ml of water into the bowl containing the sifted Matcha powder. Do not use boiling water.
- Using a bamboo whisk (chasen), whisk the Matcha and water vigorously in a "W" or "M" motion. Continue until a frothy layer forms on top. Your goal should be to create a rich, velvety consistency.
- Once you have the desired consistency, it's time to savour your Matcha tea!
Tips for Achieving the Perfect Froth and Flavor of Matcha
Achieving the perfect froth and flavor in one go is not so challenging, especially if you keep the following tips in mind:
As the grade changes, the quality changes too. And so does the taste. Invest in high-quality, premium-grade Matcha for an authentic taste experience at home.
Our Matcha tea is carefully cultivated, focusing on the initial harvest for the fine 60-mesh texture. This ensures that our Matcha tea is a cut above the rest!
Maintain the Water Temperature
To avoid scalding the delicate Matcha, use water at 70-80°C (158-176°F) for the perfect balance of flavor and smoothness.
Whisk It Right
Whisk vigorously in a zigzag motion, gradually increasing speed while ensuring no lumps remain. This will help in achieving the desired frothiness.
Use a traditional bamboo whisk for the best froth. But if you don't have one, try an electric frother.
Incorporating Matcha into Your Lifestyle
The good news is that Matcha can be enjoyed in other ways, too. Think of a Matcha latte, smoothie, or iced tea. Its vibrant green hue and distinct flavor also make it a favorite ingredient for cooking and baking. Here are some quick recipes for you to try!
Feel-Good Matcha Tea Beverage Recipes
- Matcha Latte: Heat your preferred milk and froth it. Mix a teaspoon of Matcha powder with a small amount of hot water to create a paste, then add the frothed milk. Sweeten to taste, if desired.
- Matcha Smoothie: This is pretty simple. All you need to do is blend Matcha powder with frozen fruits (such as bananas or berries), a splash of your choice of milk, Greek yoghurt, and ice cubes. And there you go, your refreshing and nutritious beverage is ready to be devoured!
- Matcha Iced Tea: Dissolve Matcha powder in cold water, and add ice cubes and a hint of sweetener (only if you prefer it sweet). Finally, add a slice of lemon or mint for added freshness.
Sweet Tooth Matcha Tea
- Matcha Pancakes or Waffles: Add Matcha powder to your pancake or waffle batter for a delightful breakfast infused with antioxidants and a touch of earthiness.
- Matcha Cookies and Muffins: Add a pop of color and unique flavor to cookies, muffins, or scones by blending Matcha powder into the dough or batter.
- Matcha Glazes and Frostings: Prepare glazes or frostings by mixing powdered sugar with a hint of Matcha powder. Drizzle over cakes, cupcakes, or doughnuts for an elegant touch.
Healthy Everyday Matcha Tea Creativity
- Breakfast Bowls: Start your day with a nutritious Matcha-infused breakfast bowl. Mix Matcha powder with yogurt, granola, fresh fruits, and nuts for an energizing morning meal.
- Salad Dressing: Mix Matcha powder with olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and a dash of salt and pepper for a unique salad dressing.
- Energy Bites: Make energy bites by combining Matcha powder, dates, nuts, and shredded coconut. Roll them into bite-sized balls for a quick and healthy snack on the go!
Matcha Rituals and Practices
Matcha green tea is deeply steeped in Japanese culture and takes center stage in Japanese tea ceremonies or Chanoyu. Here, Matcha tea stands as a symbol of harmony, respect, and purity. Culturally, it signifies an appreciation for simplicity, beauty, and the present moment.
The prime importance is the act of incorporating mindfulness into the process of making Matcha tea. Right from sifting the powder to whisking it for the froth and savoring it sip by sip, every step in the process anchors you in the present.
And the best part? It's easy to incorporate the Japanese mindful Matcha ritual into modern-day practices for well-being. Think of incorporating a morning Matcha ritual into your daily routine. Prepare Matcha mindfully, using it as a moment to set intentions, center yourself, and welcome the day with clarity and focus.
You could also practice meditation while enjoying Matcha. Pairing mindful breathing techniques with Matcha tea amplifies its calming effects, promoting relaxation and mental clarity. Or you can combine Matcha tea with journaling as a reflective practice. Sip Matcha as you journal your thoughts, gratitude, or aspirations to foster a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness.
Matcha Tea: The Best Japanese Green Tea
If anything, Matcha is a beverage with many benefits. Its rich, earthy, nutty flavor with the vibrant green hue offers a way for holistic living. Preventing oxidative stress, maintaining heart health, reducing inflammation, improving metabolism, relaxing your body — you name it, and Matcha offers it!
Furthermore, its versatility of preparation, as a hot tea, iced latte, and dessert flavor, makes it even more special. The only thing you need to take off? The water temperatures, whisking tool, and frothing consistency!
So, now that you know all about the goodness of this Japanese green tea, are you ready to try it and make it a part of your routine? If yes, our Matcha tea awaits you!
Frequently Asked Questions about Matcha
1. Does Matcha tea contain a lot of caffeine?
Although Matcha contains caffeine, its effects are balanced by L-theanine, promoting sustained, focused energy without the crash associated with coffee.
2. Is it true that all Matcha is of the same quality?
No, it's not true. Matcha grades vary based on cultivation, processing, and leaf quality. Ceremonial-grade Matcha is the highest quality, offering a smoother, nuanced flavor, followed by Premium grade and culinary grade.
3. How much Matcha should I use per serving?
Generally, 1-2 teaspoons (about 2 grams) of Matcha per 60-80 ml of water is recommended. You can adjust the proportions to suit personal taste preferences.
4. How can I achieve a frothy consistency in Matcha?
Use a bamboo whisk and whisk the Matcha vigorously in a zigzag pattern to achieve the perfect froth.
5. Can I sweeten Matcha?
Matcha's natural flavor is complex, but sweeteners like honey and sugar can be added to enhance sweetness.
6. Can Matcha be consumed cold?
Yes, absolutely! Matcha tea can be consumed cold as Matcha latte, smoothie, or iced tea.