Long a dietary staple in the East, green tea is an ever more popular beverage worldwide, consumed for its unique aroma and myriad of health benefits. The finest variety of green tea available is Matcha Tea.
Chosen by Japanese Zen Buddhist monks over hundreds of years for its properties promoting both calm and alertness, and the tea of choice for the sacred Japanese Tea Ceremony, matcha tea is an extremely important part of Japanese culture.
But how is Matcha tea different from other green teas?
- Matcha is grown only in Japan. It is cultivated by local farmers by the Yahagi River, where the misty, foggy air and climate conditions are perfect for its growth.
- Matcha tea leaves are typically grown in the shade. This results in tender leaves with increased chlorophyll content. Chlorophyll is the source of the extremely high antioxidant levels found in matcha tea. One cup of matcha green tea contains the antioxidant and nutritional levels of ten cups of regular green tea.
- The leaves of the plant are handpicked, then steamed, air-dried, and ground down into a fine green powder. The entire leaf is used. This powder is fully consumed when drinking matcha tea. As such, the entire leaf is consumed, as opposed to simply the infused water, which is consumed when drinking Chinese green teas. Additionally, many China green teas have leaves which have been fired or roasted to make them last longer; this impacts negatively on the health benefits offered by drinking the tea.
- Matcha production in Japan is limited, and only one percent of the gross harvest of matcha, and production of matcha powder, is exported. This is the reason why matcha tea is more expensive than regular green teas. It is a superior and exclusive product.
- Matcha is a full bodied tea, and has a unique taste. The initial flavour is somewhat astringent, followed by a sweetness that lingers on the tongue. The overall feel in the mouth is a rich, creamy sensation, known in Japan as umami, or the fifth taste.
- Matcha tea, as it is in powder form, can be added to many recipes, enhancing both the taste and also the health benefits of various foods. It may be added to everything from pastries to savoury sauces and desserts. Matcha is a popular ice-cream flavour in Japan.
- Matcha must be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container. This ensures enduring freshness and optimal taste. Product should be consumed within two to four weeks of opening.
- Matcha tea is a proven heavyweight with regards to antioxidant content: like other green teas, it is known to prevent cancer, assist weight loss, prevent heart disease and reduce cholesterol levels, is anti-ageing and detoxifying, improves clarity of mind, is full of fibre, and provides energy. Matcha tea, however, differs in that it is one of the highest antioxidant providers known to man.
The Zen Masters knew they were onto a good thing. Begin your love affair with Matcha Tea today. Not only will you do your body a favour, your mind too will benefit – and it tastes great!
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