Green tea ice cream, green tea lattes, green tea cakes, cookies, and kit kats. All use the same secret ingredient- matcha, the tea used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. And while green tea baked goods are always appreciated- matcha is pretty darn good on its own too.
Despite its increasing presence in various tasty treats, smoothies, and supplements- our friends, families, and many of those we talk tea with, still don’t seem to have a clear picture of what matcha is.
So.. then, what exactly is it? Well, matcha is the only tea in which the entire leaf is consumed; meaning this vegetal and vibrant powdered tea packs in way more nutrients than its traditionally infused counterparts.
Matcha begins with leaves lovingly grown in the shade, beneath screens and straw shades, which reduces the rate of photosynthesis. Due to lack of access to the sun, the tea leaves are forced to work extra hard, catching whatever glimmer of the sun they can- resulting in a bright green, nutrient rich tea, known as tencha.
The tencha leaves are picked late in the harvest, after spending about 2-4 weeks in the shade, and are subsequently air-dried, de-stemmed, and ground into a fine powder using a stone mill. Tencha is now matcha; tea transformed.
Just a few of the countless benefits you'll enjoy by embracing the “shadier side” of green tea:
Calming, Crash-Free Energy Boost- Like coffee and brewed teas, matcha does contain some caffeine. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for a savory, umami flavor, that has an anti-stress effect. The caffeine and L-theanine combine to create a calm, alertness. Japanese monks have used matcha for over a thousand years; helping them stay focused while meditating for hours on end.
Some Nutritional Basics- Potassium, Iron, Vitamins A, C, E, & K- who knew you could get so many vitamins and minerals just from sipping on tea?!
Antioxidants- Matcha is jam packed full of antioxidants that do everything from naturally freshening breath, potentially aiding in fighting some cancers and HIV, protecting skin against damage from the sun and potentially, from age induced wrinkles and sagging.
Detox- Another way to get our essential fill of greens; chlorophyll is the stored solar energy that gives matcha its green color. Its high chlorophyll content has a cleansing effect on the body, helping eliminate chemicals and heavy metals, restore pH balance, and support the immune system.
Metabolism Booster- Matcha can raise your metabolic rate, while increasing fat oxidation- especially if consumed right before hitting the gym. It also has thermogenic properties- which means it helps the body burn calories while digesting food.
It's Super Convenient- Not exactly a health benefit, but a killer benefit nonetheless, matcha’s powdery, “just add water” nature makes it essentially the perfect instant drink mix; effortless, but with no sugar or mystery ingredients that tend to be the price of convenience.
Around these parts, we use matcha anywhere we can; green tea mints and immune support, and our newest addition, green tea lattes! Next time, skip the juice cleanse- and whip yourself up a frothy batch of ceremonial grade deliciousness.