For a while I relied on coffee everyday of my life. It was one of those things I needed to function and without it I would be super grouchy. I would’t even talk to my boyfriend till I had my caffeine fix. It wasn’t even coffee that I was in need of. To be specific, it was 4 shots of espresso in a venti cup with extra ice, caramel drizzle and a splash of soy. And you know exactly where I went for it, Starbucks. Starbucks and why I stopped going there will be a whole different post but this is how I began my search for something that could give me the same kind of energy yet be good for my body as well. I’ve had matcha drinks before but I didn’t really know the difference between “good” matcha and “bad” matcha. There are different grades, organic and non-organic, matcha used for baking and drinking, and powders that have added sugar in it. Yes I still drink coffee when I’m in need but matcha is an excellent replacement and it’s also good for you!
What is matcha?
Matcha is a special powdered green tea where the tea leaves are shaded for the last 3 weeks of harvesting. This slows the growth of the leaves and increases the amount of chlorophyll which gives the tea its dark green color. The leaves are picked and sorted through, then carefully ground to produce a fine powder. I read that it takes about an hour to grind 30 grams of tea into its matcha powder form. This explains why high quality matcha can be so expensive. The higher grades of matcha have a sweeter and deeper flavor then lower grades. Matcha can be brewed into a healthy green tea drink or added to smoothies and baked goods.
History of matcha
Long ago, Tang Dynasty in China turned green tea into a powder form which they then formed into stiff blocks, which made it easy to travel with on long journeys. Soon after in the 1100s a Japanese monk brought the idea of matcha to Japan and even though China lost this idea until recently, Japan has kept the idea going strong. Before only royalty and Samurais were able to consume matcha because of its time consuming process which made it very expensive. Now it can be found everywhere, even here in America, in all kinds of foods and drinks.
Energy: The shading of the tea leaves produces an amino acid called, L-theanine which helps balance the caffeine levels in your body and creates calmness. It helps give you a 6 hour energy boost without causing the jitters coffee can give you. Also, it has been found to relax you yet still help you remain alert.
Antioxidants: It has been discovered that matcha has 137 times more antioxidants then regular green tea, 60 times more antioxidants then spinach, and 7 times more antioxidants then dark chocolate. These antioxidants have been proven to fight some types of cancer as well as reduce inflammation and free radicals that accelerate asking aging.
Weight Loss: The major antioxidant found in matcha is EGCG (Epigallocatechin Gallate) which is found to burn stored fat as energy. It can boost your metabolism as well as prevent new fat cells from forming. Of course this goes along with regular exercise and a healthy diet but if you are trying to lose some weight this might be a better choice then a sugary coffee/energy drink.
Heart Health: The high amount of antioxidants have also been proven to prevent and lower risk of cholesterol, blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Brain and Memory: The amino acid L-Theanine stimulates alpha brain waves which helps with your focus and concentration. Matcha also produces high amounts of dopamine and serotonin in your body after drinking just one cup, which also enhances overall mood and improves your memory.
Detox: The chlorophyll found in matcha has been proven to detoxify your body from heavy metals and chemicals.
Other benefits: Matcha is also full of vitamin A & C, iron, protein, and calcium.
My favorite way to include matcha in my diet is a matcha latte made with almond milk. Although you have to be careful in where you order one from because matcha that has added sugar in it is probably poor in quality and can lack in certain benefits. Plus like I wrote earlier, the higher the quality the sweeter and deeper flavor you’ll taste which means you don’t need the added sugar!
And if you do not live near these places or any place that serves a matcha latte here’s a recipe to make one at home!
Matcha Latte serves 1
1-2 teaspoons of organic matcha powder
1/4 cup of hot water
1/4 cup of steamed/warm almond milk ( you can substitute regular/coconut/soy milk)
*optional sweetner of choice
- Spoon matcha into cup and add hot water. Use matcha whisk or any kind of small kitchen whisk to mix until smooth.
- Now add almond milk to a small pot and heat over stove. While heating, whisk briskly until foamy.
- Pour almond milk over matcha mixture and whisk one more time.
- Taste for any adjustments on milk or sweetness.