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All You Need To Know About Matcha Green Tea
Matcha is a special powdered green tea commonly grown and produced in Japan.
Matcha tea leaves are grown in the shade for a few weeks before harvesting, creating a dark green color due to increased chlorophyll content. The leaves are ground to a fine powder using stone grinding wheels.
The Matcha powder is then used to brew green tea or as an ingredient in recipes such as baking or smoothies.
Unlike other types, nothing is strained out of the Matcha tea leaves before consumption; it is consumed as a whole. This makes it more potent compared to other tea varieties.
History of Matcha Tea
In China, Matcha tea was ground into a powder then dried into bricks. People broke the dried tea bricks into small pieces and stirred them into hot water. This was an easy to use, shelf stable form of tea.
Matcha tea was introduced to the Japanese in the 11th century, where it was used in the traditional Chanoyu ceremony and given to warriors as its production was expensive and time-consuming.
This fine green tea powder led to the introduction of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies in the 12th Century. Matcha tea became more popular in Japan up to today due to its health benefits, visual appeal, and its unique flavor.
Essentially, Matcha is green tea leaves ground into a fine powder. The best green tea bushes are selected then shaded from the sun for about three weeks before harvesting. They are harvested and ground using different methods producing a fine green powder. The green tea powder is sifted and whisked using hot water.
The laborious process of Matcha powder makes it more expensive than other types of tea. Currently, Matcha tea is grown in different places, but Japan is known for producing the best.
Forms of Matcha tea
Matcha tea is made in two forms: koicha and usucha. Usucha is referred to as “thin tea,” it is the most common way of preparation; what restaurants and cafes serve.
Koicha is referred to as “thick tea.” It is prepared using twice the quantity of matcha powder and half the amount of water as usucha.
The tea is kneaded gently using a bamboo whisk or chasen resulting to a very thick tea. Koicha is common in traditional tea ceremonies and is prepared from the highest quality of matcha tea powder. The matcha powders that prepare koicha and usucha are specific and cannot be interchanged.
Preparation of Matcha Tea
Equipment needed during Matcha tea preparation is:
- A tea bowl (chawan) for making and drinking the Matcha
- A bamboo tea spoon(chashaku ) for scooping the powder into the tea bowl
- A whisk (chasen) which sifts tea to break up Matcha powder clumps.
Matcha tea is in the form of a suspension that is prepared by sifting the powder into a bowl and whisking it with hot water till it appears frothy. It is suspended in the water and allowed to settle for long making it separate unlike brewed or steeped beverages.
Scoop the powder using the teaspoon and sift it into the tea bowl. Gently add three ounces of 175F clean water. Use the chasen to whisk the mixture rapidly until frothy. It should be a hot frothy concoction with small bubbles on its surface. The matcha tea flavor depends on the quality of powder used and the where which it comes from. Good quality matcha has a pleasant smell while bad quality matcha tastes unpleasantly bitter.
Matcha can be taken hot or cold. The powder can also be used to make cocktails, whipped into lattes, added into savory dishes, used in baking cakes and doughnuts or added into some sweets such as maracons and mochi. It is rich in antioxidants therefore highly used in the beauty and health sectors. The fact that taking matcha is consumption of the entire tea leaf makes it more healthful as most nutrients are retained during preparation.
Nutritional value and benefits of matcha tea
Matcha green tea is a source of fiber and minerals such as zinc, magnesium, and chromium. It is also a source of vitamins A, B-Complex, C, E, and K. It is rich in super antioxidants such as catechins, polyphenols, and chlorophyll. It has amino acids such as theophylline and L-theanine making matcha tea a nutrient rich drink.
Some of the benefits of Matcha Tea are that it is packed with antioxidants that burn calories and boosts metabolism. It prevents diseases such as cancer. It also lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Matcha tea enhances moods and concentration. It relaxes the body and calms the mind.