There’s nothing quite like the feeling of making a delicious, healthy meal at home. The colorful vegetables, the hearty grains, it’s enough to make my mouth all watery. I used to have this misconception about food, that if it tastes good, it is not healthy.
This could not be farther from the truth. There are so many excellent routes to delicious, healthy eating, the problem is finding them. (Check out these recipes for some good and healthy eats)
I recently tried out an amazing ingredient that adds incredible flavor, not to mention mental and physical health benefits that we all hope for in our food: matcha powder.
For some, the matcha craze seems like a new fad, but after trying it, I decided I needed to find out for myself what this "magic powder" is all about.
If you Google "matcha powder", Google returns 18,200,000 results. That's a lot of research, but I dug deep, learned a ton and now I want to share it with you.
Where Do Matcha Leaves Come From?
It is actually a very old Japanese creation.
Matcha powder is made from specially-grown green tea leaves, from a shrub called Camellia sinensis. This shrub is a Chinese tea plant brought to Japan in 1191 A.D. by the Zen Monk Eisai.
Eisai is often credited as the person who introduced tea to Japan, setting in motion the Japanese tea tradition. Thanks Eisai!
Around the 16th century, the beginning of the Japanese tea ceremony cemented the love of matcha in Japan.
This tea ceremony, known as Chado or Sade and translates to “The Art of Tea”, coincided with the realization that shading the leaves has extraordinary effects on the leaf.
At this point, powdered matcha began to be consumed by royalty, samurai, priests and the wealthy. It wasn’t for another few hundred years that powdered matcha would be consumed by the masses.
Today, we are lucky enough to live in a world where matcha can be mass produced and sold around the world.
However, keep in mind, not all matcha is made equally.
The next time you hear someone say green matcha powder is the new health fad, let them know Japan has been consuming matcha for a thousand years.
How Is Matcha Made?
Shade-grown tea leaves are used to make it, and preparation of matcha begins weeks before harvesting. The leaves can be used to make other teas, jade dew for instance. But when matcha is the desired product, the leaves are shaded for their final 20 days or so before harvesting. The goal of this is to increase chlorophyll, the pigment that is responsible for the green color in plants. Once shaded, the chlorophyll builds up due to its inability to be used in photosynthesis, which is what makes matcha so green. This buildup of chlorophyll is part of what makes matcha so healthy, but I’ll get back to that in a minute.
Once harvested, the leaves are laid out flat to dry and eventually stone-ground into the bright green powder we know as matcha.
Why Is Matcha So Healthy?
The production of matcha is largely why it is so healthy. The process causes the production of amino acids, particularly L-Theanine. This amino acid is known to have a calming effect without making the drinker sleepy. But this isn’t the only thing that makes matcha a superfood. Other great reasons to drink matcha include:
It’s Packed with Antioxidants
Matcha is loaded with antioxidants, including the very potent catechins. The most powerful catechin found in green tea is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Sure, it’s a mouthful, but it’s also really good for you due to its anti-carcinogenic properties. This means that green matcha powder can possibly help prevent cancer.
Prevention of Heart Disease
Another amazing quality in the matcha tea leaves is the effect on cholesterol. When the antioxidants in matcha are consumed, LDL cholesterol, also known as “bad” cholesterol, decreases, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
The same study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition above also found that tea rich in catechins, one of the antioxidants found in matcha, can lead to a reduction in body fat. This double-blind study used two different groups of men with similar BMIs, and fed one group tea rich in catechins and one group tea poor in catechins. After 12 weeks, the group fed the tea rich in catechins had significantly lower body weight, BMI, and subcutaneous fat content. Bonus!!!!
EGCG, the catechin that has anti-carcinogenic properties, has also been shown to reduce inflammation in your skin and the rest of your body. In addition, it supports skin health by eliminating free radicals which can deteriorate cells and accelerate aging.
Excellent Source of Chlorophyll
There are so many benefits of chlorophyll that it almost deserves its own list. Some of the benefits include: antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, healthy iron, improved healing, and it helps control hunger just to name a few. Matcha powder is one of the best sources of chlorophyll available for consumption, due to the shade-grown leaves.
L-Theanine, the component in green tea that has a calming effect is also known to make the drinker more focused. It helps stimulate alpha brain waves, which are important for concentration. It makes a lot of sense when you think about the Japanese monks that drink green tea, calm focus describes them quite well.
Another mental health benefit of matcha is its ability to enhance your mood. In addition to making you focus and calm, L-Theanine can also improve your mood and make you happier.
Have I given you enough reasons to love matcha yet?
Okay, hopefully I have sold you on the health of green matcha powder. Now, it’s time for me to sell you on the taste. I have made countless incredible recipes since matcha has this distinct yet incredible flavor. Part of this is because so little is done to process the leaf, so many of the amino acids are intact. This makes the tea leaf very potent and delicious.
My favorite matcha powder is from Kiss Me Organics, which is just incredible. I have experimented with many recipes, all of which have turned out delicious. Get some matcha today and try out a couple of my favorite recipes below:
Super Green Smoothie
2 cups ice cubes
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt or dairy free
1 cup baby spinach
1 cup baby kale
1 banana sliced
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder
Recipe via Jessica Gavin
Berry Good Morning Smoothie (Kid Friendly)
2 teaspoons natural sweetene
1⁄2 cup cold orange juice
1 tsp. matcha
2 tsp. warm water
1/3 cup chopped strawberries
1/3 cup blueberries
1⁄2 banana, sliced
Recipe via Kiss Me Organics Cookbook
These one’s are easy, blend it all in a blender and enjoy!
Matcha Green Pancakes Yup, my kids loved these, but took a bit of convincing to try :-)
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
2 1⁄2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1⁄2 tbsp. Matcha
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
Olive oil cooking spray
2 cups milk
2 tsp. dried mint leaves
1/3 cup butter, softened
Recipe via Kiss Me Organics Cookbook
Combine all the wet ingredients in a bowl and whisk. In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Mix the two, and use the olive oil cooking spray to prepare the skillet. Use ¼ cup measuring cup to dole out pancakes, flip once bubbles appear on the top. Enjoy!
1 1/4 tsp Kiss Me Organics matcha powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup more or less to preference + depending on sweetness of macadamia and coconut milk
1 Tbsp (15 ml) hot water
3/4 cup (180 ml) light coconut milk (I prefer canned Complements organic)
3/4 cup (180 ml) macadamia nut milk (I like this brand)
Recipe via Minimalist Baker
1. Add matcha powder to your serving mug along with sweetener of choice and hot water. (If adding add-ins like maca, ashwaganda, or coconut butter, add at this time.)
2. Whisk until completely dissolved.
3. Once the matcha is completely dissolved, heat* your coconut and macadamia milk (or other dairy-free milks). You can heat in the microwave or on the stovetop until hot and steamy. I used my stovetop.
4. Pour dairy-free milk into your mug - latte art optional (mine was a little sad - lol). Taste and add more sweetener if needed. I found that, when I used the macadamia nut milk, I only needed a bit of maple syrup or stevia to sweeten. Enjoy immediately.
Matcha Is for Everyone, Including Kids
Everyone will benefit from green matcha powder consumption. There’s countless benefits for people of all ages, and it’s even particularly good for children. Not only is it safe and beneficial for kids to drink matcha, but they love it too.
Although there are plenty of children who love it, sometimes introducing a strange new green substance to their diet can be met with some resistance, so treat lightly.
When giving matcha to children, be sure to start with a small amount to see how they react to it. It is a very strong flavor, and children have sensitive taste buds so giving them a lot right away might be too much.
Start with matcha pancakes or a berry morning smoothie, something that has other strong flavors that they already like. From this point you can work your way towards teas, yogurt, and more.
Share Your Matcha
Hopefully I have you convinced that green matcha powder is good for you. It’s a healthy, delicious Japanese creation that I strive to share with as many people as I can, and you should too!
Bring your matcha creations to pot lucks, family dinners, and anywhere food is shared. Maybe we can make the world a little healthier.
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