What is Matcha and Should You Be Drinking it?
You may have heard about matcha a lot in recent years. The powder, with its signature vibrant green colour has been popping up in trendy cafes, in the form of tasty matcha lattes, and even cakes and dessert. The health-conscious are raving about it too- they say matcha has a slew of health benefits and may even help you lose weight. But what exactly is matcha? Read on to find out everything you need to know about this delicious, magical tea.
What is Matcha?
The word ‘matcha’ is Japanese, meaning powdered tea. Like a lot of Japanese tea, matcha is made from green tea leaves, hence its bright green colour. To make matcha, the tea leaves are dried and ground up into a very fine powder.
The taste of matcha can be described as mild and fragrant with a hint of umami, and perhaps slightly grassy, especially when compared to black tea.
Unlike most teas where flavour is extracted through brewing, matcha is distinct in the fact that the tea leaves themselves are incorporated into the drink. Once matcha has been mixed with liquid, there will be no trace of tea leaves left over, which is why matcha is incredibly versatile and can be mixed into just about anything!
History of Matcha
Nowadays, we often associate matcha with Japan, but its history can in fact be traced back to the Song dynasty of Ancient China. Tea originated from China, and so did the practice of grinding tea leaves into powder prior to consumption- particularly among Buddhist monks. However, powdered tea didn’t have quite as lasting an impression in China as it did in Japan.
How matcha became so closely associated with Japan is largely due to the practice of sado, or the Japanese tea ceremony. Originally practiced by Zen Buddhist monks in their monasteries since the 12th century when matcha was introduced to Japan, the tradition has continued well into modern day. During the ceremony, a host carefully prepares matcha for guests while observing principles of Zen, such as the appreciation for simplicity.
Is Drinking Matcha Really Good for You?
There’s a good reason when matcha is all the rage right now- drinking it is indeed good for you! Matcha contains several substances that are great for the body. These include theanine, an amino acid that’s said to help reduce anxiety, and catechin, a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight disease and stay healthy.
If you were curious about matcha but wasn’t sure if it’s for you, worry no more. Matcha is tasty, healthy, and completely safe to drink even if you’re sensitive to caffeine, so give it go!
Matcha also contains some caffeine, though to a lesser degree than coffee. This means that it can still give you the energy boost you need, but is much gentler on the system. Green tea is said to promote fat burning and increase metabolism, and because matcha is essentially concentrated green tea, it will have the same effect. Plus, matcha tastes great on its own simply mixed with hot water, meaning you can cut down on harmful sugar and reduce your dairy intake- and calories too.