Matcha is a traditional Chinese green tea powder loved by foodies and health gurus across the globe for its unique earthy flavour, vibrant green colour, and numerous health benefits. Matcha is typically consumed as a tea but is also used as an ingredient in sweet treats and confections, like cake and mochi.
Let’s look at what matcha is, why people love it, where to get your own matcha kit, and the correct way to make a cup.
What is matcha and where does it come from?
Matcha has been an essential part of Chinese (and later, Japanese) tea ceremonies for centuries, dating all the way back to the 12th century.
The word “matcha” means powdered tea, and it is made by grinding specially grown and harvested green tea leaves into a fine powder with traditional stone mills.
The process of actually growing matcha involves shading the green tea plants for a few weeks before harvesting to increase the chlorophyll content and enhance the flavour (and colour) of the leaves.
Once the leaves have been harvested, they are steamed, dried, and carefully ground to produce the fine green powder. The grinding process is done slowly to prevent the tea from becoming too hot and oxidising, which can reduce its quality.
The benefits of drinking matcha
Not only does matcha bring a perfect, earthy flavour to a good boba, it’s got some serious health benefits, too.
Matcha is packed with antioxidants, including catechins and EGCG, which help to fight free radicals in the body and reduce inflammation. Matcha also contains caffeine, which can provide a natural energy boost without the jitters associated with coffee. Additionally, matcha has a unique amino acid called L-theanine, which promotes relaxation and reduces stress.
Matcha is versatile and is consumed in a variety of ways. It can be prepared on its own as a tea, blended into smoothies or lattes, or used as an ingredient in cooking and baking.
How to make matcha, the right way
Making matcha requires special utensils and careful attention to detail, a trait shared by many artisans and cooks in Japanese culture.
To make a proper cup of matcha, you will need a bamboo whisk (chasen), a tea bowl (chawan), a bamboo scoop (chashaku), and a sifter.
STEP 1: Begin by sifting the matcha powder through the sieve into the bowl to remove any lumps.
STEP 2: Then, add hot water to the bowl, about 80°C. Any hotter and the tea will oxidise and lose its quality.
STEP 3: Whisk the tea using the chasen until it’s frothy and smooth. The whisking process should be done quickly in a “W” motion to create a frothy, creamy consistency.
STEP 4: Have as is, or pour milk over and serve. We recommend ditching the milk and appreciating the matcha for its depth of flavour.
Remember, making matcha correctly requires special utensils, attention to detail, and patience, but it’s worth it!
Feature Image: Getty