Matcha is hot right now. Like many health and nutrition buzzwords (intermittent fasting, Paleo, organic, CBD, MCT, etc.) Matcha is spreading like wildfire. Although it has seen a rise to the top as of late due to it’s unique caffeine effects and its anti-oxidant properties, Matcha has been around for nearly a thousand years. If you are paying attention, you may have realized that Matcha is popping up not just the tea form, but in lattes, smoothies, baked goods, and even gummy bears!
With all this excitement around Matcha, you may be asking yourself one simple question: What is Matcha? Well, we are glad you asked and we are here to serve. Below you will find the simple answer to what Matcha is. Even better, you will find our experiences with it and how to improve its effects. We made a few rookie mistakes our first time experimenting with Matcha so be sure to read our advice to make your experience much smoother and more delicious!
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a powdered green tea. One of the first things you’ll love about Matcha is that you know you are getting a high-quality product. Whereas many teas, such as a basic green tea, are machine picked and include a range of leaves from the best to the worst, the leaves used for Matcha powder are handpicked by experts and only the best leaves make the cut. Equally as important, the grinding process is done slowly and methodically in order to ensure that the aroma and nutritional content of the powder is not sacrificed. The end result is a vibrant, emerald green powder that creates a deliciously creamy drink that is beneficial for your health.
There are three grades of Matcha and they do make a significant difference. The three classifications are ceremonial, premium, and cooking/culinary grades. As you can probably guess, you want to grab a ceremonial or premium grade Matcha powder if you are going to be drinking it straight up. The cooking/culinary grade will work if you are making baked goods, smoothies, or even adding it to beer. However, we can tell you from experience that it is not the best when drinking it in the traditional fashion. Stick to a high-quality Matcha powder. Amazon has plenty to choose from and the jump from cooking/culinary to ceremonial only runs you an extra $5 to $6 dollars. Trust us, it’s worth it!
What Are the Health Benefits of Matcha?
Matcha’s resume is pretty impressive. Matcha is loaded with antioxidants. In fact, it has somewhere around ten times the amount of antioxidants that green tea has, which is pretty wild. If that was the only health claim that Matcha we could probably stop right there and give Matcha the W, but it there is much more to the story than just its antioxidant content.
Additional Matcha claims include detoxification properties, cholesterol and blood sugar regulation, increased metabolism/fat burning/weight loss, immune system boost, improvements in cardiovascular health, and anti-cancer effects due to its polyphenol content (specifically EGCG). Yea, we’re just as impressed as you are.
What’s most unique about Matcha powder is its ability to give you energy and calmness at the same time. It seems counter intuitive, but we do possess the ability to share these two feelings at the same time. If you have ever fully entered Ketosis, you know very well this feeling that we are talking about. If not, you should try drinking a cup of Matcha and experience it firsthand!
Coffee buzzes can be great, but many times they leave us feeling scatter-brained, jacked up, and/or jittery. Coffee is also famous for steering its consumers into the dreaded coffee/afternoon crash. Matcha gives you energy without overdoing it and you find yourself locked in on whatever task you have on hand. Because it does not give you any of the negative effects that coffee sometimes can, you can drink Matcha later in the day without worrying about being up all night or messing with your sleep schedule (within reason of course, its probably not the best thing to drink right before bed).
The calming and energetic effects of Matcha are due to an amino acid called L-theanine. L-theanine is a powerful amino-acid that can be taken in the supplement form for alertness, energy, and focus. It has been used in people with ADHD in order to improve quality of sleep and decrease symptoms of the disease. At the risk of this turning into a full-blown scientific article, we will just leave it at that. If you are interested in learning more amount L-theanine supplementation, click here, here, and here.
How do I make Matcha?
Making Matcha is really very simple. Combine 1/4 to 1/2 cup of hot water (depending on your preference of consistency and potency) with a teaspoon of Matcha powder. Whisk the ingredients together. Wait until the drink is at a safe temperature to drink and enjoy! You can adjust the amount of Matcha powder that you use, but we encourage you to start with the recommended amount as we’ve experienced nausea from consuming too much at once.
There are a variety of other ways to consume your Matcha. A quick search on the internet will show you that Matcha can be used in ice cream, cookies, cakes, cupcakes, beer, smoothies, lattes, hot chocolate, and even sushi. Use it as you please, but we recommend keeping it simple and using it as intended. If you are making sugary cookies and cakes with Matcha, you are not going to get the full benefits. If you truly care about your health, make a nice warm Matcha or toss it in a smoothie with other healthy foods and reap all the benefits.
What Matcha Hacks and Tips Do You have for Me?
1. Buy ceremonial grade
For certain things, quality doesn’t matter. For Matcha, that is not the case. Be sure to by a high quality Matcha as you will notice a distinct difference in taste and blend-ability. We promise you, there is nothing worse than drinking a nice cup of Matcha only to be met at the end with a huge, slew of powdery grossness that ruins the entire experience. Treat yourself, you deserve it.
2. Add salt
This was an absolute game-changer. The first time we had Matcha, we didn’t hate it, but it certainly had an earthy tone and was missing something. Seeing that we put salt on everything, we tossed it in our Matcha. What a phenomenal idea because it completely changed the entire taste and made it so much easier to drink. Be sure you are adding a high-quality salt such as Pink Himalayan, and don’t go over board. It shouldn’t taste like you are licking a pretzel.
3. Drink from a bowl
Adding salt was definitely a game-changer, but so was drinking out of a tiny, little bowl. When doing our own research on Matcha, we found that it is traditionally consumed from a small bowl. At first we brushed it off and continued drinking from coffee mugs and to-go mugs. Once we started getting over the earthiest of the Matcha and looking for ways to upgrade it, we decided to give the bowl-method a try. It didn’t hurt that we had recently acquired some ugly, small bowls that had no function.
Low and behold, those ugly bowls are now our Matcha bowls. We do not consume our Matcha in anything but those. Having the openness of the bowl allows the aromas to flow a lot better and the whole experience is improved. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.
4. Blend then heat
One thing we struggled with was getting our Matcha powder to blend. We tried using different types of whisks, which did help and made change, but not significantly enough that the dreadful powder at the end was eradicated. Upgrading from cooking/culinary grade (rookie mistake) to ceremonial grade made a big difference in the blend-ability, but the most profound effect was blending then heating.
For this method, simply add water (not heated) to the powder, put it in the blender, then toss it on for about 10-15 seconds. Once its good and smooth, add the mixture to a sauce pan and toss it on medium heat on the stove top until it is hot and steamy. This involves a little bit more time, effort, and energy, but the results are well worth it.
Some of you might be thinking, “why can’t you heat then blend?” Great question, we’re glad you asked. The problem with this is that if you are using something like a Ninja or a Magic Bullet, the hot water can cause pressure (science!) in the cup and can break the seal/blender. We’ve had this happen to us before and it’s not a fun time. Also, we’re always weary when it comes to plastic and heat.
5. Use sporadically
We have found that we get the greatest effects from Matcha when we use it sporadically. Your body can quickly build up a tolerance to L-theanine (the amino acid in Matcha that is associated with calm and energy) which means you don’t get the same “buzz” each time you consume it. We’ve also noticed that sometimes your day just calls for the regular cup of Joe or the almond-milk latte. We prefer to use Matcha later in the day when we need a little surge for getting work done at night or as a coffee replacement throughout the week.
6. Get it to stay
As you surely know by now, Matcha has both calming and energetic effects. This can be great at any time throughout your day, but particularly when you are feeling stressed, burnt out, and beat. Since Matcha is so much better in a bowl, we highly suggest that you sit down, take 5-minutes, and breathe while you consume your Matcha. We live in a fast world that is highly stressful. The effects of Matcha are going to be significantly better if you stop working and only focus on your drink.
Don’t work, don’t think, don’t do a crossword puzzle, just be. You may find that by the time you get to the bottom of your bowl, you feel like a completely new person ready to take on your day (provided that you blended your drink properly and don’t have the powder on the bottom, talk about a buzzkill!). Take your 5 minutes and then go crush whatever you need to do with the rest of your day, and feel great!
Matcha is a wonderful choice to aid in your quest to becoming the healthiest version of yourself. It totes an impressive resume loaded with health benefits and very few negatives to its name. As with anything related to your personal health, it is important to keep in mind that Matcha will not solve all your problems. You will not drink one bowl of Matcha and instantly be protected from cancer, lose 10 pounds, or have the energy of a 7 year-old. It is simply part of the puzzle that makes up your well-being.
Make good decisions when consuming Matcha and steer clear of the baked goods and gummies. Consume it like it was meant to be consumed and take it all it has to offer!
How do you use Matcha? How does it work for you? We want to know! Leave a comment below!