An Investigation into Matcha Tea. What, When, Where Did it Come From?

11 Oct 2018

Category: Educational

So, You Think you Know Everything About Matcha Tea…

Matcha Tea has been a major buzzword in the health industry recently. It joins the ranks of kale, quinoa, and acai, as a “superfood” – but, what exactly is Matcha? And what makes it different from normal green tea? 

We decided to unpack the health craze and investigate what exactly makes Matcha a superfood.

So,What is ‘Matcha’?

In simple terms, genuine Matcha is green tea that’s grown in Japan. The bushes are grown under lots of shade to boost their chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is what makes the leaves super green, and packed full of nutrients. These leaves are hand-picked and removed of stems and veins. These are then ground to a fine powder. Matcha leaves are ground in the dark, to protect the nutrients and result in a powder. This powder you can buy, and means that when you drink matcha, you drink the whole leaf. This means you ingest all the nutrients in the leaf. 

Despite only recently becoming popular, Matcha has actually been around for centuries. Records show Matcha was used as early as the Tang dynasty in China (618-907 AD). Matcha has been at the heart of Japanese tea customs since then. The Matcha Ritual was developed in the 1500s by a Buddhist student:  Zen Master Sen-no-Rikyu. Sen-no-Rikyu formed the Japanese Tea Ceremony which is split into four principles: 

  • Harmony (wa) 
  • Respect (kei) 
  • Purity (sei) 
  • Tranquility (jaku) 

The Ceremony was named “Chado”. This translates as ‘The Way of Tea’. 

Traditionally prepared Matcha tea has since become massively popular. It has seen celebrity endorsements and chains producing their own versions – but why? Historically, drinking Matcha was thought to be spiritually cleansing. However, in recent years, it has been proven to be incredibly cleansing in a health capacity. 

How Healthy is Matcha?

Normal green tea is known to be very healthy. But, with normal green tea, the leaf is brewed and then removed. This has been compared to boiling spinach, removing spinach, and drinking that water. You miss out on most of the nutrients! Since with Matcha you drink the whole ground-up leaf, the health benefits are massively increased. 

Regularly drinking tea – in particular, green tea – have proven health benefits. A study in 2014 showed that regular tea drinkers (for 12 weeks) encountered a significant drop in their blood pressure. 

It is estimated that a cup of matcha tea contains the same nutritional value of 10 cups of normal green tea. It also has 137 times more antioxidants. Antioxidants are great for you as they lower your risk of infections and disease. 

Other health benefits of matcha include: 

  • Being a natural metabolism booster (helping to burn calories)
  • Acting as a de-toxer for the body 
  • Being calming, and relaxing the body 
  • Containing lots of fibre, chlorophyll and vitamins 
  • Naturally enhancing your mood 

Matcha also has almost half of the caffeine in as coffee. Matcha contains roughly 30mg per 1g serving, whilst a regular cup of coffee has roughly 70-75mg. It’s therefore perfect for a work-boosting drink. You’ll get your hit of caffeine, but a massive range of other health benefits alongside it. 

The caffeine in Matcha also works differently to that of in coffee. A coffee-drinker might be familiar with a “caffeine-crash” – the crash that kicks in once the rush of energy from caffeine is gone. In Matcha however, the caffeine is released slowly. You’ll get a slow release of energy rather than a short bust. This can last 4-6 hours! Perfect for a long day in the office when you need a little pick me up, but don’t want to face the crash afterwards.

Making your own Matcha 

First off – what is proper Matcha supposed to taste like? It has been described in the press as “bitter” however, Louise Cheadle, co-author of The Book of Matcha and the co-owner of Teapigs, says “A good matcha will not taste bitter at all; there will be a slightly sweet taste.”

So, buying a good quality matcha powder is a vital first step. Lots of online sites, including Teapigs offer a delivery service. Once you have your powder – you can get creative with your Matcha drinks. 

Traditionally of course, Matcha is drunk as a tea. For this, you’ll only need ½ teaspoon of matcha powder. Mix the powder into boiling water straight from your Billi tap. Just as you would an instant coffee. However, you’ll want to make sure the powder mixes properly. A trick to ensure this is to use a whisk. This will result in a well-mixed Matcha tea –  that packs a super-healthy punch. 

Feel free to get creative with your Matcha! Try adding it to hot or cold milk. Or, with dairy-free alternatives such as coconut or almond milk. This adds an extra, complimentary flavour to the matcha powder taste.  Why not impress your colleagues with your matcha knowledge and mix up a few mugs of either hot or cold matcha in the office?

Or, why not add it to a juice or smoothie? As matcha is bursting with antioxidants, it will provide an extra-special superfood kick. 

Many cafes now offer Matcha lattes too, a healthier twist on the favourite. Here’s a recipe for you to try at in the office or at home. 

  • Create a matcha paste. For this, you’ll need to whizz up a spoonful of matcha with some milk (dairy or any dairy-free alternative). 
  • Add some agave syrup to balance out the matcha. (Agave syrup is far healthier than honey or normal syrup!) 
  • Froth up some milk (again, dairy or any dairy-free alternative) 
  • Add this milk to your paste – and voila! Matcha latte for your enjoyment. 

Why not experiment more with your latte? Cinnamon or nutmeg tastes great mixed into the paste. Coconut or almond milk provide tasty dairy-free options too. Or, pour over ice for a Matcha iced latte! 

 Matcha is in fact so versatile – it can even be added to foods. For extra nutrients and antioxidants in bread and pastries, try adding some matcha powder. 

Enjoy the benefits of matcha power, and let us know what you think about this mega green superfood in the comments below!