Matcha: How to Prepare the Healthy Ancient Tea

Drink Your Antioxidants & Caffeine

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What would mornings be like without a caffeine fix? Thanks to coffee, most of us never have to find out. A solid 64 percent of Americans enjoy at least one cup of joe per day, and a quarter say they’re addicted, according to a Gallup poll.

As popular as coffee is, it no longer has the breakfast beverage market cornered. That’s because tea—including the trendy matcha—is picking up steam (literally). But what is matcha and is this new super sip healthy or is it just hype? 

What Is Matcha?

Matcha tea originated in Japan and is very common among Asian cultures. In fact, it tends to be the tea of choice during traditional ceremonies. What makes matcha, a brightly colored green tea (thanks to chlorophyll), so unique is that the entire leaf is ground into a fine powder; with other forms of tea, you typically steep the leaves, discard, and drink the remaining water. Because you’re consuming the entire leaf, you’ll score more nutrients that may deliver some health benefits, including:

Disease-Fighting Antioxidants

One of the biggest perks of matcha tea is a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), which acts like an antioxidant that may help fight cancer and prevent heart disease. Matcha is said to be heavily concentrated with EGCG. In fact, it provides about three times more antioxidants than other forms of green tea.

Energy-Boosting Caffeine

The caffeine content of matcha can vary depending on the type and amount used in each cup. A suggested half to 1 teaspoon of powder per serving will provide anywhere from 34 to 70 milligrams of caffeine (depending on the quality). That means that matcha has roughly half the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee (and about the same amount as a shot of espresso).

The green powder also contains the amino acid, L-theanine, which has a relaxing effect on the mind. And research suggests that L-theanine paired with caffeine may also have mood-boosting properties. Keep in mind, everyone reacts differently to caffeine, so it’s crucial to determine the right amount for you.

Matcha Preparation Tips

To make a cup of matcha, you’ll need just a bowl, tea (bamboo) whisk, and a teaspoon. Measure out the desired amount of matcha powder and add it to the bowl. Heat up either water or milk (your choice) and add a small amount of the hot liquid to the bowl with the matcha. Whisk until a thick paste is formed and no clumps remain. Pour the paste into the pot you used to heat the liquid and continue to whisk until you reach a smooth, frothy consistency. Pour into a tea cup or mug and enjoy!

And don’t feel limited to tea—you can incorporate Matcha into lots of things, like smoothies, cookies, cakes, and ice cream. Here are five tasty and creative ways to use the power powder:

  • Add half to 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to your smoothies, as in this Matcha Mango Smoothie.
  • Enjoy a matcha latte with your milk of choice. Add a drop of vanilla extract, cinnamon, or a touch of honey if you prefer a little sweetness. Buyer beware: Store-bought matcha lattes can be loaded with added sugar and calories.
  • Make homemade matcha ice cream or fro-yo. Combine reduced-fat plain yogurt (don’t use nonfat, as the fat helps prevent ice/water crystals from forming) with a bit of honey or syrup in a bowl. Whisk in some matcha and sprinkle in a dash of cinnamon. Mix well. Pour mixture into a bread pan, cover and place in freezer for up to four hours or overnight.
  • Incorporate matcha into your quick breads. Culinary matcha is best for cooking/baking. Use it to whip up my delicious Green Tea Pound Cake.
  • Jazz up your breakfast by making matcha oatmeal. Add 1 teaspoon matcha to half cup serving of oats and prepare as usual with water or milk. Finish it off with the toppings of choice, like chopped almonds or pecans, berries, shredded unsweetened coconut, or cacao nibs. Yum!
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