Superfoods, superfoods and more superfoods.
In recent years, one word that has become synonymous with the U.S. food culture is that of superfoods.
There doesn’t pass a month when something new isn’t touted as a superfood.
Whether or not that particular food/drink or whatever it is actually deserves to be called a superfood is a debate for another day.
But amidst this deluge of superfoods, there are a few foods who actually merit this status and have gone on to cement their place in the American food culture.
Prominent examples include Greek yogurt, açaí, kombucha, etc. These foods have acquired the ‘superfood’ status courtesy of the exceptionally high levels of health-beneficial nutrients they possess.
One such superfood that has found favor with Americans and has become immensely popular among health enthusiasts in the U.S. is matcha.
This unprocessed type of green tea has earned a tremendous fan-following, thanks in no small part to the numerous health benefits it provides.
Quite simply, matcha has surpassed the traditional Japanese tea ceremony to become a mainstream food in the U.S. that’s found almost everywhere.
For instance, it is found in a variety of foods ranging from baked goods to ice cream to cocktails and more.
But the most popular food/beverage based around matcha which is heavily consumed throughout the U.S. is the Matcha Green Tea Latte.
This concoction of matcha and steamed milk aided by a sweetener has gone on to rule people’s hearts and has become a fan-favorite.
Keeping in mind the popularity and acclaim garnered by matcha and matcha green tea latte in the U.S., it was high time that we came up with an extensive blog post based upon this topic.
So through this blog post, I’m going to get you familiarized with everything there is to be known about matcha and matcha green tea latte.
For those of you who aren’t aware, matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea leaves.
When we talk about specially grown, it is because matcha is special in a couple of aspects of farming and processing.
These two aspects are:
- The green tea plants for matcha are grown in shade for around three weeks before harvest.
- All the stems and veins are removed during processing.
Matcha has a long tradition of consumption in China and Japan, with it having been consumed in these countries for hundreds of years.
Matcha is made by taking young tea leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant and grinding them into a bright green powder.
Traditionally, the grinding process is done with the help of granite stones which grind the leaves into a very fine powder.
It takes around an hour to grind the leaves and it is done in the dark to protect the nutrients present in the leaves.
For making matcha tea, this bright green powder is then whisked with hot water, which is in contrast with that of regular green tea wherein the leaves are infused in water and then removed.
The best matcha comes from Japan, where it has been grown for centuries and forms part of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
How Matcha and Matcha green tea is made
Around 3 weeks prior to harvest, matcha farmers build structures around the green tea plants to shade them, keeping them almost completely in the dark.
This boosts chlorophyll production and enhances the amino acid content in the leaves, resulting in the leaves becoming brighter, sweeter and softer.
Once harvest is done, the leaves are immediately steamed and then dried and kept in heated ovens for around 20 minutes.
Workers then take out all the unnecessary things like stems, twigs, etc. and grind the leaves into a bright green and smooth powder.
This powder is Matcha.
Since the matcha powder is made out of whole leaves, it’s significantly stronger than regular green tea and even a little amount can be enough for producing a strong cup of matcha.
Preparing matcha tea is quite an easy task with just matcha powder and hot water being the two required ingredients.
- For preparing matcha, you need to first make use of a tea strainer to sift the matcha powder into a bowl to avoid the formation of clumps.
- Next, you need to add warm water to the bowl and whisk it.
The whisking is traditionally done with a bamboo whisk called a chasen.
- Whisking the two ingredients together leads to the formation of a foamy green tea (matcha tea) which can be consumed straight away.You can adjust the ratio of matcha powder to water in accordance with your favored consistency.
Taste of Matcha
The majority of the people who haven’t tasted matcha are curious about its feel, taste, and flavor.
The finest quality matcha is smooth and has a slightly sweet taste to it with no bitterness at all.
It also has a grassy taste & smell to it and can be difficult for some people to consume without the addition of external ingredients like milk, a sweetener, etc.
The quality of the leaves is the key factor when it comes to the taste of the matcha powder.
Low-quality matcha powder won’t have a bright green color, it will be grainy to touch and may also have a slightly yellowish color to it.
Matcha green tea vs Regular green tea
Despite originating from the same plant (Camellia Sinensis), matcha and regular green tea have quite a few significant differences between them.
The most well-known difference is between the cost of the two powders.
Matcha is considerably more expensive than regular green tea.
The next difference is in the amount of caffeine found in them.
Since matcha is made from the whole tea leaves, the matcha green tea caffeine content is substantially more than that of regular green tea.
Matcha though has less caffeine in comparison to black tea/coffee.
Similar to caffeine, matcha also contains more EGCG and other antioxidants than regular green tea.
Now that we are acquainted with the main differences between matcha and regular green tea, it’s time to delve straight into the health benefits attached to consuming matcha tea.
Here are 6 of the chief health benefits of matcha tea, all of which are backed by science.
Health benefits of Matcha
We all know matcha to be a very rich source of antioxidants, particularly EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate).
Antioxidants help neutralize the effects of the free radicals present in the body which can cause cell damage and lead to life-threatening diseases like cancer.
Besides containing a hefty dose of antioxidants, matcha also has abundant amounts of L-theanine, which is an amino acid that may help in enhancing memory and concentration by increasing the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
Other matcha benefits:
- Boosts Brain function
- Protects the Liver
- Protects the Heart
- Helps in losing weight
How to use matcha green tea powder
As we discussed before, the simplest way to consume matcha is by preparing matcha tea made up of matcha powder and hot water.
Besides that traditional form of consuming matcha, there are various other easy ways through which you can get your daily dose of this superfood and its health-enriching qualities.
Some of the ways include adding the powder to milk, coffee, smoothies, cocktails, yogurt, ice cream, oatmeal, baked goods, sandwiches, popcorn, etc.
Among all these various options, the one option that has become quite a rage is Matcha green tea latte or simply Matcha latte, which is basically a blend of matcha powder and steamed milk.
Let’s have a comprehensive look at this highly enticing and delectable beverage.
Matcha Green Tea Latte
Despite being seen as a unique and exotic treat, the matcha green tea latte is simply a concoction of matcha powder and milk (cow, almond, soy, rice, etc.) supplemented by a sweetener (sugar, honey, agave, stevia, etc.) of your liking.
A layer of foamed milk on top completes the heavenly drink.
If you prefer, you can also add some water for a thinner consistency and lighter taste & flavor.
Matcha lattes make for a luscious drink, whether in hot or iced form and can prove to be a great replacement for coffee.
You will get the boost of energy you want without having to experience the crash that follows a strong cup of coffee.
Matcha lattes provide you with all the health-beneficial nutrients of matcha along with the nutrients present in the milk of your choice.
For instance, the traditional matcha latte made up of cow milk provides you with a healthy dose of calcium, vitamin D and protein to add to the already substantial health-boosting nutrients present in matcha.
Whether preparing it at home or buying from a shop, always opt for a sweetener with zero calories like stevia to make the most out of matcha’s health-benefiting properties.
Matcha and Matcha green tea lattes possess the potential to significantly boost up your intake of health-enhancing nutrients and improve your health if made an integral part of your daily diet.
So start incorporating matcha and matcha lattes in your diet and experience the blissfulness, that is Matcha!