Matcha green tea is featured everywhere from health food stores to ice cream shops and even bakeries. Characterized by its vibrant yet earthy green hue, matcha products are actually made with the ground leaf of the Camellia Sinesis plant instead of the steeped liquor.
Since it is from the same plant as Black Tea, it has many similar benefits to what we learned about last week on the Health Benefits of Tea, Part 1. Drinking matcha compliments a healthy lifestyle and workout routine by delivering tonnes of antioxidants and helping speed up your metabolism.
This week, we are clarifying some of the madness around Matcha so you know what to buy and how to use it the next time you see it. More than just a tea, Matcha is a powerful plant that will give you energy, boost your immune system and could help prevent serious illnesses. Plus, check out two deliciously simple recipes using Matcha in sweet and savoury dishes. Enjoy!
The Bare Necessiteas
Caffeine: 34 mg (Compared to 150-200mg in coffee)
Notable Characteristics: Immune Boosting & Cancer Fighting, Energizing, Fat Burning
Made From: Ground leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant
Main Regions: Green Tea is mainly produced in China and Japan
Tasting Notes: Depending on the variety of Matcha, it ranges from slightly bitter to creamy. If you are not used to the flavour, try adding a touch of honey or a drop of milk (although this slightly inhibits its health benefits). Enjoying green tea as a latte is a good way to get used to the bitterness in contrast to the sweetness of the milk.
Matcha is now increasing in popularity in North America and is often used in baking and sweets, as well as health drinks. The slightly bitter and grassy flavour cuts the sweetness of desserts for a more pleasing, balanced and refreshing taste.
There are several different grades of matcha available on the market – higher grades are used as drinking teas whereas lower grades are used for cooking and baking.
Ceremonial Matcha ($$$) is the highest quality on the market. It comes from the very small top leaves of the Camellia Sinesis plant and has the highest amount of amino acids. This not only impacts the health benefits, but heightens the taste and aroma. Ceremonial matcha has the smoothest and creamiest taste making it perfect for sipping.
Classic Matcha ($$) follows from the leaves below “Ceremonial” level. It has a bright flavour with a slight bitter finish making it the perfect pairing for a meal or enjoyed on its own.
Cafe Matcha and Kitchen Matcha ($) are from the lower leaves of the plant and are best used to add flavour, colour and nutrients to smoothies and cooking recipes. They have a sharper bitterness than drinking matcha that is better enjoyed mixed with other ingredients.
There is a wide variety of matcha tea on the market so you can find the perfect product, flavour price for your needs. DAVIDsTEA sells three types of delicious Matcha drinking teas. Their Ceremonial Matcha and Grand Cru Matcha are delicious and creamy, and ideal for sipping. If you are not used to the slightly bitter teas or green teas in general, these options are perfect for you. Matcha Matsu is also quite a smooth sipping tea, but it has a stronger “green” flavour. It is very potent so if you are enjoying it in baked goods or smoothies, a little goes a long way.
Why is it Good for You?
Matcha is the healthiest form of green tea because it is made from finely ground green tea leaves. That means you are getting all of the available antioxidants, chlorophyll and fibre from the plant.
Matcha is from a special type of green tea plant that is grown in the shade for about three weeks before harvesting. This process allows the plant to produce more theanine and caffeine – the combination of which is what can be attributed to the “calm energy” that people feel when they drink matcha.
Immune Boosting & Cancer Fighting
- Green teas including Matcha are high in polyphenols and EGCg, which are powerful antioxidants. It has 10 times more antioxidants than regular steeped green tea.
- EGCg are found in white tea and green tea, but less so in black tea where they are converted to theaflavins during oxidation.
- The antioxidant benefit from EGCg, similar to antioxidant benefits from other foods, includes eliminating free radicals from the body. They have also been shown to promote the destruction of cancer cells and have significant anti-ageing effects internally as well as externally.
- Antioxidants encourage brain health by promoting neurogenesis – neuron creation – to help improve brain function and concentration, and minimize the impact of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
- Matcha green tea is grown in the shade and as a result has deeper green leaves, and more chlorophyll than regular green tea. Chlorophyll improves your breath and detoxifies your body of heavy metals and poisons.
Energy without Anxiety
While some caffeine sources can cause anxiousness, the energy from green tea (in the form of theanine) offers a calm and relaxing sense of clarity. It energizes you and allows you to focus on tasks.
Green tea boosts metabolism by giving you energy and a sense of wakefulness to help you burn calories. It also promotes further fat oxidation that cannot be explained by caffeine intake.
Preparing Matcha powders are slightly different than a typical cup of tea: add your desired amount of matcha powder to hot water and whisk vigorously until frothy, and there are no more lumps of powder. Enjoy immediately!
Currently Drinking: DAVIDsTEA Matcha Matsu
Ingredients: 100% Pure Green Tea Leaves
Aroma: Green grass and earthy characteristics
Tasting Notes: Strong green flavour and aroma. A combination of grassy and bitter notes that pair perfectly with dinner or dessert!
Cooking with Tea
If cooking with tea is new to you, Matcha is one of the easiest ways to get started. Because of it’s fine powder texture, it blends easily into dry ingredients for desserts like cookies and cakes. The slight bitterness offsets desserts that might otherwise be too sweet, leaving a more balanced result.
With practice and an adventurous palette, you can also try incorporating Matcha powder into your favourite savoury dishes. Here are two simple recipes to help you get comfortable cooking with matcha.
Matcha Matsu Salmon Tataki
Tataki is a traditional Japanese cooking process where the meat is seared quickly at very high temperatures so the outside is lightly cooked and the inside is still raw.
1 Portion Sushi Grade Organic Salmon, Skin Off
1/4 tsp Matcha Matsu and a Fine Strainer used for Sprinkling
Vegetable or Grapeseed Oil
Fine Sea Salt
Cracked Black Pepper
1 tbsp Soy Sauce
1 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Finely Grated Ginger
- Ask your fish monger for a piece of sushi grade salmon that is even all the way across, or trim the slabs yourself. Try a section across the back or middle of the fillet instead of the belly or tail – this will make cooking time more consistent.
- Start preheating your pan on high with a few teaspoons of oil. Use something like grapeseed or vegetable oil because of the high smoke point. These oils burn at a very high temperature and will not spoil the delicate taste of the fish.
- Wash your salmon and pat it dry with paper towel. Dry meats and fish will brown and develop a sear on the outside – exactly what you want with tataki!
- Lightly sprinkle all four sides of your salmon with Fine Sea Salt and Cracked Black Pepper. Gently massage the fish to press the seasoning into the meat.
- Make sure your pan is very hot – you will see small ripples appearing in the oil that is already in the pan.
- Carefully place your fish into the hot oil and let it sit for 20 to 30 seconds. Gently flip your fish on all four sides (or just two sides, depending on thickness), and remove it from the pan. You want the edges to barely be cooked, creating a 4 or 5 mm border around the raw centre of the fish.
- Once your fish is out of the pan, use a fine strainer to lightly sprinkle all four sides with Matcha Matsu. This way, you will not burn the delicate Matcha leaves and you preserve its natural health benefits.
- Slice up your salmon tataki in 1cm pieces and serve it with a Soy, Lemon and Ginger dipping sauce.
Matcha Matsu Vanilla Cake
This Vanilla Cake Recipe is adapted from Better than Yia Yia’s Perfect Vanilla Sponge recipe. A little bit dense but still perfectly airy, this cake will stay moist for days (if it lasts that long). The slight tang from the buttermilk balances the bitterness from the matcha and the sweetness from the vanilla, and the whole cake is lifted by the light, fragrant lemon zest. You have to have balance in your diet and this cake makes for a delicious indulgence!
Step 1 – Sift and Whisk
1 cup All Purpose Flour
3/4 cup Sugar
Zest of One Lemon
Step 2 – Mix In
1/2 cup Vegetable Oil
1/4 cup Hot Water
2 tsp Matcha Matsu
Step 3 – Wet Ingredients
1/2 cup Buttermilk (1/2 cup Milk + 2 tsp White Vinegar)
1/2 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Icing Sugar
1/4 tsp Matcha Matsu
- Prepare your Buttermilk: Add White Vinegar to your Milk (we usually use 2% but 1% or skim will work well, too). Mix together and let stand for 10 minutes while you gather the rest of your ingredients.
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 F and prepare your cake tin by greasing and flouring the sides, or line your cupcake tin with papers.
- Dry Ingredients: Sift together Flour, Sugar and Salt, then whisk in your Lemon Zest.
- Whisk the Matcha Matsu into your Hot Water until lump-free, dissolved and frothy. Once mixed, add your Matcha/Water and Vegetable Oil to your dry ingredients. Use a spatula to easily mix everything together well.
- Mix your Wet Ingredients: Beat the Egg into your Buttermilk, then mix in the Vanilla and Baking Soda. Combine well.
- Pour your Wet Ingredients into your Dry Ingredients / Matcha Mixture and mix well with a spatula. You do not want to overwork the batter, but give it a good mix until everything is the same consistency. Make sure you scrape the bottom of the bowl if you are using an electric mixer!
- Portion your batter into your prepared cake or cupcake tins and bake in the pre-heated 350 F oven. Cupcakes should take between 16 – 18 minutes and cakes between 20 – 24 minutes. When the smell of cake envelops your kitchen, they are probably done.
- To serve your cake or cupcakes, mix some Icing Sugar and Matcha Matsu and dust using a fine strainer. Enjoy!
We hope that you have a better understanding of Matcha and the incredible ways it can impact your body. Come back next week for a revealing look at Rooibos in Part 3 of The Health Benefits of Tea!
Get caught up on the series with our look at Black Tea in The Health Benefits of Tea, Part 1.
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