A common type of tea that most people would be familiar with, matcha is powdered green tea that is predominantly and traditionally made in Shizuoka, Japan, but also produced in select areas of China and South Korea. The tea bushes are shaded during their growing period to produce a strong and luscious leaf. But that’s not the only secret of matcha — the tea is extremely potent due to the way it is prepared. The powder is mixed into the water rather than steeped, and never removed. This means that you’re getting 100% of the green tea leaf in your brew, supercharging your dose of antioxidants, theanine, and polyphenols. Early indications in scientific studies indicate that these combined may not only help to reduce your risk of cancer, they may also help to promote younger, healthier skin, help to prevent heart disease, and reduce your risk of stroke.
Matcha is an important part of tradition in Japan but is now being added to many foods globally. It comes in two forms: ceremonial and culinary. Culinary matcha is a lower grade and is used best to create matcha-flavoured foods (for example, matchaflavoured cakes, ice-creams, muffins, biscuits, milkshakes, lattes and chocolates). It can also be used to create usucha, or ‘thin tea’, with a lower matcha-to-water ratio, allowing you to make matcha that may be somewhat bitter into a delicious drink. Ceremonial matcha, on the other hand, is so beautiful, silky, and well-regarded, that it is used heavily in Japanese tea ceremonies — hence its name. Ceremonial matcha is best made into koicha, or ‘thick tea’, which allows a very strong but delicious brew. However, koicha is not an everyday tea — it is strong and challenging on the palate, and very few would drink it as a part of their daily regimen, even in spite of its beautiful taste. Ceremonial matcha can also be made into usucha, therefore making it more palatable for everyday drinking.
Consume matcha wherever you can — in foods or as a straight beverage. Not only is it delicious — your body will thank you for it. If preparing it in the traditional way using a chawan and a whisk, take some time to share the meditative experience of watching the liquid become silkier with every stroke.