Are you a health nerd? Do you like to keep abreast of the latest superfood fads rocking the health world? Then, you probably must have heard about Japanese matcha green tea. You must be wondering that since you are already an avid tea-drinker in general and green tea drinker in particular, what is it about matcha green tea that is creating such a buzz among health enthusiasts?
First things first, we need to know the real difference between good old green tea and matcha green tea. There are differences between the preparation and serving of the Matcha tea and your regular green tea. Our vote is for matcha tea because of its milder taste and the fact that it is really delicious. There is a wonderful balance of flavor and health benefits that makes us root for the tea even more.
History of Matcha Tea
It was at the time of the Tang Dynasty in China, that they found ingenious ways of storing green tea and using it later. Green tea was first powdered, then dried and stored in a brick form for everyday use. People would consume it by breaking off a small part of the green brick and then steeping it in hot water. This was a very portable way of carrying green tea.
In the 1100s, it was with a Japanese monk that the idea of powdered tea traveled to Japan, which eventually developed into a ceremony known as the chanoyu ceremony. Drinking powdered green tea had gradually lost its steam in China until recently, but in Japan, the tradition has stayed on. Matcha was considered a regal drink as it was expensive and took a long time to prepare. So it was served only to royalty and Samurai warriors. But now it is a common drink consumed by all in Japan.
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Differences between Green Tea and Matcha Tea
Green tea usually refers to the loose variety of tea; on the other hand, Matcha is a tea which is milled finely. Matcha is ground from tencha leaves. The Gyokuro or the green tea leaf is the only one made from tencha and is used to make this tea.
The ordinary leaf tea is made by steeping in hot water, whereas Matcha tea is stirred with a bamboo whisk in scalding hot water until it dissolves into a green frothy liquid. Once it is thoroughly whisked, Matcha is then served in a large tea bowl which is shared with everyone while green tea leaves are steeped in a teapot then served in specific cups.
The other important difference is that when it comes to the garden variety of Japanese green tea powder, it is strained by a strainer and then consumed, whereas for matcha green tea, the leaves are also consumed. Matcha can be distinguished by its distinctive bright green color, whereas the color of normal green tea may range from light greenish yellow to light brown.
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The Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
For the harvest of Matcha, the best tea bushes are carefully selected and shielded from the sun for at least 3 weeks before the harvest. Then, the best leaves are carefully selected and ground by hand to produce a fine bright green powder. What gives it the bright hue, you ask? As the green tea leaves are shielded from the sun especially, during the last few weeks of their growth, the chlorophyll content is increased by leaps and bounds, which creates a gorgeous green color.
- It is high in antioxidants- The reason why we are loading on anti-oxidants is because they help combat the negative effects of harmful sun rays and also help prevent a host of chronic diseases. We are all trying to fulfill our antioxidant needs all the time, which is why we eat raw veggies, fruits and so on. Matcha green tea is an absolute powerhouse of antioxidants. It can easily power over any other antioxidant rich foods. This is one reason why you should start sipping on green matcha tea.
- It is full of catechins- Not all antioxidants are created equal, green tea contains catechins which are special antioxidants, called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), which is a potent cancer fighter. Matcha green tea contains 100 times more EGCg than any other tea available in the market.
- It keeps you calm- There is a reason why Chinese Daoists and Japanese Zen Buddhist monks sip on matcha green tea. It not only helps relax and meditate, but also keeps your senses alert. This state of mind is achieved because of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is a chief component of the leaves. Theanine helps in the proliferation of alpha waves in the brain, which helps relax without the drowsiness.
- It boosts concentration and memory power- The L-Theanine compound enhances the production of dopamine and serotonin, which help improve memory, mood and also to promote concentration. This is very much required by everyone.
- It helps increase energy levels- You can imagine the energy boosting properties of matcha tree when you know how Samurai, the warriors hailing from early-modern Japan, drank Matcha green tea before going in for a battle. The best part of this tea is that even if it contains caffeine, there are no other side-effects, unlike the other stimulants we drink. It is good energy minus the other stimulant-induced side effects like nervousness and hypertension.
- Helps in weight loss- It boosts metabolism and helps burn fat more than any other beverage. Also, another positive about it is that it does not have any side effects, unlike other drinks which raise heart rate and blood pressure.
- Detoxification of the body- The increased amounts of chlorophyll in the plants during the last three weeks before their harvest, make it a potent detoxifier. It removes chemical toxins and heavy metals, effectively detoxifying the body.
- Raises good cholesterol- Substantial research has been done on matcha green tea benefits and it has shown promising results, particularly on heart health. People who regularly consumed matcha tea got their cholesterol checked and saw that their bad cholesterol (LDL) had miraculously gone down while their good cholesterol levels (HDL) had gone up. So people who have sipped on matcha tea for months have lesser chances of suffering from heart ailments.
- Gastrointestinal health- Matcha tea is really effective in treating gastrointestinal disorders. Elimination is the greatest way of getting rid of toxins from your body, and research done in this field has proven that matcha has properties to activate excretion and thus help get rid of accumulated toxins from the body.
- It is aromatic and flavorful- The best thing about organic matcha green tea powder is that it is not something you need to swallow forcefully just because its nutritive. Here is something which you can drink for your health and enjoy it too.
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Recipes for Matcha Green Tea
We now know matcha tea is very good for us, but having it the same way every day is kind of boring. The only way you can keep your taste buds interested is by changing the way you cook. Reap in the benefits in a tasty and healthy way. The fact that matcha tea lends such a green hue to everything you add makes it really attractive. Also, you don’t have to really have to add foods to camouflage its taste because it is very aromatic and flavorful, so it will add its own distinctive taste.
1. Matcha coconut latte
This is a smooth frothy drink, with just a hint of sweetener. It achieves that smooth latte look and also the taste you usually find at cafes. Your kitchen whisk can achieve that perfect froth effortlessly. Matcha is a superfood, and adding the good fats to the latte in the form of coconut milk can help assimilate the nutrients better.
- ½ – 1 teaspoon of green matcha tea
- ¼ cup of hot water
- ¼ cups of warmed coconut milk
- Optional – sweetener of your choice, to taste
- Sift your matcha well so it is lump-free.
- Put the matcha into a large mug. Add the hot water and coconut milk and whisk briskly, in an up and down motion, until it is frothy – about 30 seconds or so. (You can also use a small kitchen whisk if you don’t have a matcha whisk).
- Taste it and add additional water, coconut milk, and/or sweetener to your liking. Honey works perfectly fine.
2. Matcha Coconut Fudge
Matcha and coconut go very well together; this dessert is a case in point. It tastes divine without the additional sugar and additives, just a dessert full of flavors and wonderful taste. This dessert answers the question perfectly well- Can you eat the cake and remain healthy? The good fats in the recipe help in more nutrient absorption.
- 880g (4 cups) Low Fat Organic Cottage Cheese, room temp
- 1 tsp. Vanilla Paste
- 68g (2¼ cups) Stevia in the Raw
- 16g (2 tbs.) Organic Matcha Powder
- 85g (⅓ cup) Raw Coconut Butter, melted
- ¼ cup Homemade Metamucil
- ¾ cup shredded coconut
- Line an 8” brownie pan with parchment paper both ways.
- In a blender or food processor, add the cottage cheese, vanilla paste, Stevia in the Raw and matcha powder. Puree it till it is completely smooth.
- While blending, pour in the melted coconut butter.
- While blending, add the homemade Metamucil. Put the mixture into the prepared brownie pan and spread out the surface to flatten it. Place the pan in the freezer for 2 hours.
- Place the shredded coconut in a large bowl.
- Slice the fudge into about 36 pieces, coat the fudge squares with the shredded coconut, then place it on a large serving plate.
- Once all the fudge is coated with the coconut, refrigerate it, keep it uncovered overnight and serve the next day.
3. Matcha Mint Iced Tea
This is a flavorful drink with the potent and anti-oxidant rich matcha tea. Instead of whisking it, you can shake it up to a light and refreshing drink. Replace your fizzy drinks with this invigorating drink. Have this to beat your midday slumps. You will drive your work blues away in a jiffy with this drink!
- 2 cups of filtered water
- 2 teaspoons of matcha green tea
- 2 cups of crushed ice
- 1 lime, sliced
- Handfuls of mint
- Optional: honey or cane sugar
- Use a cocktail shaker and shake the water and matcha together until there are no visible lumps.
- Add the ice, a squeeze of lime, handfuls of mint and shake it some more. You can even add sweetener if you like. Pour into tall glasses with extra lime slices and mint.
4. Matcha Pops
There are very few times you stumble upon a popsicle as healthy as this one. Blending in yogurt too, this is one popsicle which is really kind to your gut health. Every bit tastier than your regular popsicles, it also comes without the unhealthy additives and sugar.
- 2 c plain yogurt
- 2 to. honey, or more to taste
- 2 tsp. matcha powder
- A pinch of kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- 1 c of mocha bits
- Whisk all ingredients together except for the mochi. Taste and add more honey, if desired. Fold in the mochi last. Pour into Popsicle molds, insert Popsicle sticks and freeze for a few hours.
- Put the molds under warm water to remove easily.
When it comes to your health, you can’t really take any chances, right? So, despite the pocket pinch, more and more people are queuing up outside the supermarkets to buy organic matcha green tea powder. This will keep you refreshed and energized; and keep all the chronic diseases at bay. So there really isn’t any reason to stop you from reaching out for your frothy green beverage.