Matcha 101: A Beginner's Guide to Matcha Green Tea
Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few years, there's a good chance you've noticed that matcha has become somewhat of a new "trend" in the health and wellness world. In reality, though, people have been using matcha powder since ancient times to boost their emotional, physical, and spiritual wellness.
Still, maybe you've been curious to try matcha for yourself but you haven't known where to begin. And of course, you want to do your own research and educate yourself on anything new that you might be incorporating into your diet.
That's exactly why we've put together this ultimate guide to matcha green tea. Here, we'll cover everything from how matcha powder is made and where it comes from to its health benefits, how to prepare/store it, and how to incorporate it into your daily self-care rituals.
Ready to learn all about matcha? Let's dive in...
What is Matcha?
Specifically, matcha is a type of green tea that's made by finely grinding young tea leaves into a bright green powder. However, not just any green tea leaf has what it takes to become matcha powder; tea plants that are used for matcha (known as Camellia Sinensis) must be grown in the shade for approximately three to four weeks before they are harvested. likewise, the veins and stems of the leaves must be removed during processing.
All of this precise care gives some green tea leaves the ability to become that delicious matcha powder that you can enjoy brewed into a timeless beverage.
Speaking of green tea, what sets matcha tea apart from your "typical" cup of green tea? When you brew green tea, you steep the leaves in hot water and then remove the tea bag before consuming. With matcha, on the other hand, you are dissolving ground-up portions of the entire green tea leaf into the water. This means that you're consuming the entire leaf (aside from the veins and stems that have been removed prior to grinding).
The Origins of Matcha
So, where did matcha green tea come from, anyway? Matcha has origins that date back to around 1190 AD, when a Buddhist monk first brought powered green tea from China to Japan. From there, it didn't take long for matcha to become a staple Japanese beverage that was prepared and enjoyed by the upper classes of society.
Over time, matcha powder became more attainable across all classes; tea farmers also refined their growth and harvesting methods over the years to achieve their ideal flavor and quality.
Within the past decade or so, the matcha trend has spread globally as people have begun to recognize the health and wellness benefits it can afford.
Understanding Matcha Grades
There are three main "grades" of matcha to be aware of as you shop, with each grade differing in terms of quality, antioxidant content, flavor, and other factors.
The highest quality matcha powder is known as ceremonial or "koicha" matcha. This powder is made from leaves that contain the highest levels of antioxidants and also delivers the least bitter flavor because it comes from the youngest tea leaves.
Meanwhile, "usucha" matcha (also known as drinking-grade or classic matcha) can also be prepared as tea. However, the antioxidant count will be lower and the tea will typically be thinner in texture. It may also have more bitter notes and less sweetness, though it can still deliver a beautiful aroma and enjoyable flavor.
Finally, culinary-grade matcha is made from more mature green tea leaves that may not have received as much care or shade as ceremonial or usucha tea leaves. Generally, culinary-grade matcha is best suited for use in recipes rather than brewed into a beverage due to its bitter flavor.
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Quality matcha, when properly prepared and brewed, will have a lovely and earthy flavor. Ceremonial-grade matcha lends itself to a natural sweetness without the need to add any sugar or other sweeteners. Some people describe matcha's flavoring as grassy, nutty, or even slightly bitter.
Many people who drink matcha enjoy it plain, although some may prefer to add a little milk or honey for a smoother taste. Its versatility and ability to be customized is part of what makes matcha green tea such a great way to start your day!
There are so many health and wellness benefits that you can enjoy from consuming matcha as part of your daily ritual.
For starters, matcha powder contains L-theanine, which provides sustained and steady energy. Yes, that means you can combat that afternoon "crash" you typically experience after consuming a cup of coffee. Likewise, L-theanine is known to improve mental clarity, reduce muscle fatigue, and boost physical endurance. In other words, a cup of matcha green tea can give you the energy and strength you need to truly power through your day.
Matcha powder is also rich in Vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, F, and P. This, in addition to its high levels of amino acids, potassium, iron, calcium, and fiber, make matcha an immune-boosting beverage. Who couldn't use a bit of an immune boost these days?
Meanwhile, the catechins found in matcha powder help to boost metabolism, making matcha green tea a popular beverage to incorporate into a diet or weight loss plan. That's because catechins utilize fat as an energy source, allowing your body to burn more calories.
Did you know that matcha can also be beneficial to your skin health? Vitamin B2 and EGCG found in matcha powder both help to even out skin tone, promote skin elasticity, and improve moisture retention for more youthful and vibrant skin.
Last but certainly not least, matcha powder can be a great way to elevate your mood and achieve greater spiritual balance. Many people who enjoy matcha green tea on a regular basis find that consuming this delicious beverage can uplift the body, mind, and soul. Meanwhile, drinking matcha green tea as part of your daily routine can help you feel better grounded and more balanced.
Does Matcha Have Caffeine?
Yes! Because matcha powder is derived from the green tea plant, all matcha contains caffeine. Likewise, because drinking matcha tea means consuming the entire tea leaf, the caffeine content in matcha tea compared to traditional green tea is actually higher. In fact, while the average cup of green tea contains about 32mg of caffeine, a cup of matcha tea contains about 68mg.
However, higher caffeine content doesn't have to mean that you'll experience that dreaded energy "crash" several hours after consuming matcha. Because matcha powder contains high levels of catechins and antioxidants, energy is released more gradually into the bloodstream. This means that you can enjoy about six to eight hours of sustained energy from one cup of matcha tea without that dreaded crash!
How to Make Matcha
Making the perfect cup of matcha tea couldn't be easier. If you prefer yours hot, simply scoop one gram of matcha powder and add two ounces of hot water. From there, whisk the powder into the water until it is dissolved and frothy. Enjoy!
Some people prefer their matcha cold. If you want to enjoy iced matcha, simply follow the same steps as above, but pour your beverage over ice before consuming.
We recommend enjoying matcha in its purest form without anything added. However, you are always free to doctor up your matcha beverage with a bit of honey, milk, or anything else your heart desires.
To keep your matcha powder at the highest possible quality, it is recommended that you store it in an airtight container and in a refrigerator while not in use. This will help to protect it against oxidation, which can destroy the tea's nutrients.
How to Create Your Own Matcha Ritual
We believe that there's truly no wrong way to enjoy matcha tea. Whatever ritual brings joy to your body, mind, and soul is great! However, if you could use some help in creating a matcha ritual that works for your lifestyle, we've got some tips.
Many people find that they get the most out of their cup of matcha when they enjoy it first thing in the morning as part of a balanced breakfast. This is a wonderful way to get that sustained energy that will help you power through your day without the "crash" of a coffee beverage. As part of your morning matcha ritual, we highly recommend getting all of your senses involved: notice the earthy aroma of the matcha, its smooth flavor, and even its frothy texture. Let this mindfulness and awareness fold into the rest of your day.
If you're looking to lose weight, you might even consider incorporating matcha powder as part of your pre-workout ritual. After all, the catechins found in matcha powder can help to boost your metabolism while the caffeine can give you the sustained energy you need to blast through your workout.
How much matcha per day is safe to consume? Generally, it's recommended to stay between one and two cups per day so as to avoid too much caffeine consumption.
Where to Buy Quality Matcha Powder
A quick online search yields no shortage of options when it comes to buying matcha powder. However, it's important to realize that not all matcha powder is made equal. To get the most out of your matcha powder, you'll want to look specifically for ceremonial-grade matcha. And, ideally, you'll want to find matcha powder that is certified USDA organic, non-GMO, gluten-free, vegan, and JAS-certified.
If you're looking for matcha powder that meets all the above criteria, you'll notice that your options quickly dwindle. At Matcha Bloom, however, our ceremonial-grade matcha powder ticks all those boxes (and then some)! All of our matcha powder is stone-ground from only the finest Gyokuro green tea leaves, delivering the smoothest taste and optimal health benefits so that you can live your life in full bloom.