It’s likely you’ve at least heard of matcha by now since it’s been trending for a while in the wellness space. Even if you’ve heard of it you might still want to know more about what it is, how it’s different than green tea, what the benefits are of drinking it and how to make it. So today I’m sharing more about one of my favorite drinks, why I love it and how you can make it at home.
First, a little backstory. I have always adored coffee. I love the way it smells, looks and tastes. But my body doesn’t always love it so for about the past six months, I’ve been drinking matcha in the mornings instead of coffee and I’ve noticed that my body just does so much better on it.
Why I stepped back from coffee (for now)
Basically I can just feel that coffee causes inflammation in my body. I can usually feel the extra inflammation in my digestive tract and gut. It also 100% worsens my perioral dermatitis outbreaks on my face. (Do you want me to talk more about my journey with perioral dermtatis, what’s helped, what worsens it, etc? Let me know in the comments below if you do!) And coffee also gives me too much energy (read: anxiety). Then when I crash coming off of a coffee buzz, I crash hard and my energy plummets. It’s not a smooth caffeine buzz for me at all.
Now your body is very different from mine and coffee may suit you just fine. But if you’re feeling like coffee may not be serving you at this point, matcha might be a good option to try.
What is matcha?
Matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea leaves, but it’s grown and processed differently than regular green tea leaves. When you make a tea with matcha powder and drink it, you’re ingesting the green tea leaves which you don’t do with a normal cup of bagged green tea.
The power of antioxidants
Green tea has long been known as a potent source of antioxidants. (CliffsNotes: antioxidants are chemical compounds that are found in plant foods, and our bodies can also generate some antioxidants as well. Antioxidants are important for fighting inflammation and preventing aging and chronic disease. They’re your body’s own defense agents.)
Because you’re actually ingesting the leaves when you drink a cup of matcha, it’s believed that one cup is about 10 times more potent with those antioxidants and other powerful compounds than a regular cup of green tea.
If green tea is a superfood (and it is because of its antioxidant content), then matcha is a superfood times 10.
Brain boosting benefits
Matcha is also rich in an amino acid called l-theanine. L-theanine stimulates the production of alpha waves in the brain. Alpha brain waves are the ones that put your brain in a relaxed but alert state. L-theanine has also been found to help boost memory and cognitive performance.
Which one should I buy?
There are two different kinds of matcha, culinary and ceremonial. Culinary grade is best used for smoothies and baked goods. Ceremonial grade is the one to go with if you want to make tea.
Within the ceremonial grade matchas, there are different qualities and different price points. Some of them are quite a bit more expensive than others. The one I have found that I love for everyday use is Matcha Love from Ito En. It’s fairly easy to find, it’s not too expensive and it has a smooth flavor that I love. Keep in mind that you don’t need to use very much powder for one serving. Just a teaspoon will do.
Here’s what you’ll need to make one cup of matcha:
- 1 tsp ground matcha powder
- 6 oz fresh water
- Mug or bowl
- Optional: fine mesh tea strainer
- Optional: bamboo matcha whisk
- Optional: almond milk or other favorite nut milk, sweetener of choice (honey, maple syrup, stevia, etc)
- Start by preparing your matcha powder. In order to keep the powder from clumping once you mix it with water, you’ll either want to shake the powder through a fine mesh tea strainer like this one, or you can use a bamboo matcha whisk like this one to whisk the tea once you’ve added the water. Either way works well; I tend to use the tea strainer more because it’s easier. Add your matcha powder to your mug or bowl.
- Bring water to a near boil, not quite boiling. Pour the hot water into the mug or bowl with the matcha powder.
- If you shook the matcha through the strainer, just mix the matcha and water with a spoon. If you’re using the matcha whisk, move your hand back and forth like you’re drawing the letter M or N, repeatedly and moving quickly, for about a minute. This is the method that will give you the foam you often see on the top of a cup of matcha.
- If you’d like, you can add milk and/or sweetener to your matcha tea.