Matcha. You probably see this word everywhere, from coffee and tea shops to online to ingredient listings for such cosmetic items as lip balm.
It's also a popular ingredient in smoothies, candies, and baked goods. Matcha seems to have this alluring mystique, but it's really just a type of green tea. The main difference between matcha and other green teas lies in its method of harvesting, processing, and preparation.
Regular Green Tea vs. Matcha
Regular green tea is typically brewed using tea bags or perhaps loose leaves in some type of strainer device. Matcha tea is supplied as a superfine, bright, parrot-green powder. This powder is then mixed with hot water using a special Japanese bamboo whisk called a chasen.
This chasen is necessary to both give the smoothest tea consistency and to protect the often valuable teacups used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. The delicate bamboo won't scratch a glass or ceramic cup the way a metal spoon or some such might.
There are two basic types of matcha:
The ceremonial form is the one used for drinking and as the name suggests, formal Japanese tea ceremonies. The culinary type is mostly used as an ingredient in commercial and home-prepared food items. This article will include two matcha recipes you can try at home.
Is Matcha Good for You?
Yes! Matcha and all green teas contain substances called catechins. These are antioxidant compounds that protect the body's cells from damage to their DNA. This kind of damage can lead to degenerative diseases like dementia, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes and may also set the stage for certain types of cancer.
5 Possible Health Benefits of Matcha
According to Time magazine, a subtype of a catechin called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) may help to fight cancer, a vast group of malignant diseases linked to both systemic inflammation and DNA damage.
Just one cup of matcha tea or a single serving of it in a recipe may provide as much as 10 times the EGCG content of a standard cup of brewed green tea!
Other possible matcha health benefits include:
- Preventing or mitigating some types of heart disease
- Improving brain function
- Matcha may help protect the liver
- It may help you lose weight
- Matcha may promote overall health by boosting the immune system
In general, as you select food items for a healthy diet, always keep the antioxidant levels present in various foods in mind. Vitamins C and E are also powerful antioxidant compounds. You will often see Vitamin E (typically under the term tocopherol) on cosmetic and pet and human food product labels. Tocopherol keeps products fresh by preventing the oxidation that causes them to spoil. Matcha tea is very easy to prepare. Just mix with hot water, whisk and enjoy.
Adding Matcha to your Diet
Get some healthy matcha into your life by including it in recipes! You can also add the culinary or ceremonial grade vibrant green powder to many foods:
- Smoothies and other blender drinks
- Oatmeal and cream of wheat
- Add to foamed milk and whisk for a quick and healthy matcha latte
- Salad dressings
Use your imagination! There is no significant nutritional difference between ceremonial and culinary matcha. The main differences lie in taste, especially a near-total lack of bitterness for the ceremonial kind, and the color, method of selection, and preparation of the harvested young tea leaves.
Matcha Recipe Ideas: Vegan Matcha Pudding!
You can use culinary matcha for this. It's not quite as smooth as the ceremonial variety and it does have a slight bitterness, but the other ingredients in this recipe will compensate for this.
1 cup cold, full-fat coconut milk
1 large banana
1/4 cup pure, real maple syrup (not pancake syrup)
1/2 teaspoon real almond extract (not imitation)
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract (not imitation)
1 avocado, pitted and cut in half
2 teaspoons matcha powder
Blueberries for garnish
Chia seeds, if desired
Place all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth. Place the blended product into a large glass bowl and chill for at least 15 minutes. Using a small ice cream scoop to create a serving of pudding, place it into a nice dessert bowl or glass and garnish with blueberries.
Note: You can also sprinkle some chia seeds on top before serving. This adds a nice nutty crunch and also some complete protein. Chia seeds are among the very, very few sources of complete plant protein.
Matcha Recipe Ideas: Matcha and Cacao Smoothie!
1 to 2 teaspoons matcha powder
1/2 tablespoon maple syrup (you can use honey, but then it won't be vegan)
1-1/2 cups almond milk
1 tablespoon cacao powder, preferably organic
1/2 teaspoon real vanilla extract (not imitation)
Blend and drink!! You can add some ice before blending for a thicker consistency. You can also substitute stevia powder as a sweetener for the maple syrup, which still keeps the recipe vegan. Start with a half-teaspoon of stevia and adjust to taste. It's best to consult with your physician before making any dietary or exercise changes in your lifestyle.