Frothy, green lattes are popping up on the menus of the fanciest bistros as well as the most basic of cafés, and Matchabars are emerging in the hippest locations on earth. From LA to New York City, the ancient secret is out - matcha is the healthiest, safest and cleanest method of getting a caffeine fix. Unlike coffee, there is absolutely no crash from matcha - simply sustained energy for up to 6 hours. It alkalizes the body upon consumption, and, we think it's the most delicious caffeine fix when the matcha is prepared right - read on for some super fire recipes.
What is Matcha?
Simply put, matcha is a powdered green tea, but there is much more to the story. In preparation for harvest, the green tea leaves are protected from direct sunlight, allowing the leaves to produce L-Theanine (more about this otherworldly compound later), and to boost up its levels of chloryphyll - that's why it's as green as rich, dark moss.
More Than a Tea - Matcha as a Way of Life
Matcha has its roots in spiritual ritual, as well as in ancient medicine.
Chanyous, also known as Japanese tea ceremonies, have been using matcha since the end of the 12th century in their mindfulness rituals as their vehicle for embodying four sacred principles, wa, key sei and jaku. These matcha tea ceremonies are deeply steeped (no pun intended!) in these principles, as they remind one of the most revered values a human being can hold:
- "Harmony (Wa): harmony between guests, hosts, nature, and setting
- Respect (Kei): sincerity toward another, regardless of rank or status
- Purity (Sei): to spiritually cleanse oneself—to be of pure heart and mind
- Tranquility (Jaku): inner peace that results from obtaining the first three principles; this inner peace allows one to truly share"
So when you enjoy your next cup o' green, sip it slowly and mindfully, contemplating that which is most sacred to you.
Not only is this creamy tea sacred and delicious - it is ridiculously good for you. It is most famed for it's highly condensed levels of antioxidants, thanks to the massive concentration of polyphenols as well as L-Theanine. And remember, matcha leaves are grown in a special manner to amp up levels of L-Theanine in the tea for maximum potential of the compound.
So, here's a little more about L-Theanine: you could call this amino acid "Nature's Xanax" for the amazing effects it has on anxiety. It soothes the nerves by significantly increasing alpha wave activity in the brain. The magical compound is even sold in capsules to help with insomnia and to calm the nerves.
L-Theanine also increases focus and reaction time!
Matcha also has many antioxidants known as polyphenols, and among these, catechins seem to be truly groundbreaking in cellular protection.
Out of the various types of catechins, the most celebrated is EGCG.
What is EGCG? It stands for epigallocatechin gallate. But we'll stick with EGCG. Here's the important facts and benefits about EGCG. In the Camellia sinensis plant, from which matcha green tea is derived, EGCG protects the plant's cells from the potentially-damaging effects of ultraviolet radiation. In other words, EGCG is a potent antioxidant, and researchers believe that when green matcha tea is consumed, EGCG protects our cells in the same way it protects celllular damage in the plant.
EGCG has been the focus of dozens of studies, which clearly demonstrate an antioxidative and antiinflammatory effect. This special polyphenol also promotes improvement in several metabolic functions such as cholesterol level normalization. A couple other benefits of EGCG to sip on: it supports brain function, blood circulation and is believed to enhance the gut microbiome.
It's got a very satisfying mild, creamy taste, with the addition of that special umami flavor that everyone seems to be talking about these days.
Green tea powder can be used in practically endless ways, so it's a really fun powder to get creative with. In Japanese tea ceremonies, matcha is taken simply with hot water as a tea. Or, you can blend it up and froth it up with your choice of milk for a green, powerhouse of a latte.
More and more, matcha is popping up in bakeries in cakes, cookies, muffins...you name it!
Here are some of our favorite matcha recipes: