What is matcha tea?
If the matcha craze hasn’t reached your neighborhood yet, you may well be wondering what it is. A traditional Japanese ceremonial drink, matcha is a type of green tea that is grown and prepared like no other. It delivers concentrated antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients, enhancing energy without jittery side effects.
When we make other teas, the leaves are steeped in water and then discarded, but with matcha, green tea leaves are ground into a fine powder that dissolves in water. When we drink matcha, we consume the mixture of water and tea leaf powder—much like drinking hot chocolate.
What nutrients are in matcha tea compared to other teas?
As with other plants, the nutrients in tea are influenced by the environment of the tea plantation. For matcha, the green tea is grown in shaded areas, which gives it a bright green color and higher levels of detoxifying chlorophyll and other nutrients.
Compared to regular green teas, matcha contains at least three times the amount of EGCG, considered the key beneficial antioxidant in green tea, according to research at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. Published in the Journal of Chromatography A, the study found that compared to one popular green tea, levels of EGCG were 137 times higher in matcha.
DID YOU KNOW? Compared to regular green teas, matcha contains between 3 and 137 times as much EGCG, a key antioxidant with health-promoting properties.
What are the health benefits of match tea?
Studies of green tea have shown that it:
- Is good for the heart, mildly lowering cholesterol, making blood less sticky, and protecting arteries.
- Reduces skin damage from the sun.
- May help with weight loss.
- Helps lower blood pressure.
- Improves mental function.
- Protects against certain cancers.
- Improves the balance of gut bacteria.
- Protects the liver.
- Fortifies the immune system.
How is the caffeine effect of match different from coffee?
Matcha fans report sustained energy and alertness without the jitters from coffee, likely because the caffeine effects in matcha are offset by its theanine, a calming amino acid. Studies of theanine show that it reduces the effects of stress without causing drowsiness during the day. It also enhances sleep. Levels of caffeine vary from one matcha to another, with estimates per cup ranging between 25 mg—less than other teas— to about 70 mg—nearly as much as a cup of coffee.
Matcha Tea Recipes
With a stronger flavor than regular green tea, matcha can be added to virtually any food. Holistic chef Shelley Alexander finds that it works especially well in creamy or sweet foods, including chocolate sauce, chia pudding, yogurt, truffles, and smoothies, as well as in cookies and other baked goods. She recommends adding ½–1 teaspoon of matcha per serving, depending on your personal taste preference. These are a couple of her favorite matcha recipes:
How to Prepare Matcha Tea
Traditionally prepared with about 2 ounces of water and whisked to a frothy consistency, matcha can also be made with more water.
Traditional utensils: small sifter, bamboo whisk, ceramic bowl
Other options: any small whisk or a small milk frother
Ingredients to make 1 serving:
- ½–1 tsp. matcha
- 2–8 oz. of filtered or spring water
- Boil water and let it rest for a few minutes, so that it’s hot but not boiling. Ideal water temperature is around 175°F.
- Sift or place matcha into the bottom of the bowl.
- Add about 1 tablespoon of hot water, and whisk into a smooth paste using a zig zag motion.
- Add remaining water and whisk to a smooth, frothy consistency.
- Drink out of the bowl.
- Instead of whisking, stir with a spoon (it won’t be frothy).
- For cappuccino-style matcha, use about 2 ounces of water, froth or stir, and then add frothed milk.
- For iced matcha, make it with 2 ounces of water and pour into a glass filled with ice.