In a nutshell: matcha is a (superior) form of green tea. We all know that green tea has long been vaunted for its health benefits, and countless articles are out there praising its virtues. So what is matcha tea and why is it better? Here's the run-down:
- Matcha is grown only in Japan, where it has been a part of everyday life for thousands of years.
Shortly before harvest, matcha tea leaves are covered in shade from direct sunlight. This creates the vibrant green colour that matcha is renowned for, as well as boosting levels of L-Theanine (a critical component of all teas), and overall antioxidant levels.
- Matcha leaves are then hand-picked, steamed and air dried, then stone-ground into a very fine powder. This is the key aspect to matcha tea, and what sets it above from all other teas: the entire leaf is consumed. In traditional tea you're only consuming a fraction of the benefits that seep out from the tea leaves. With matcha tea, all of the benefits remain in the fine powder of matcha.
- This means that 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 (ten times greater than standard green tea).
- What are antioxidants and why do they matter? Without getting too technical, antioxidants are compounds that neutralise nasty little things called free radicals, which cause damage to DNA and cells in the human body. As if that doesn't sound bad enough, free radicals have been linked to pretty much every major chronic disease, and even to the overall ageing process. So the more antioxidants you can get into your system, the healthier and happier you're going to be!
So, now that you know a little more about matcha, how do you prepare it?
Traditionally, matcha comes in two forms: thick (koicha), and thin (usucha). Koicha matcha is typically associated with Japanese tea ceremonies, and is made with only the highest quality matcha (e.g. our Pinnacle and Superior range). In contrast to usucha, koicha matcha is made by gently kneading the matcha powder into hot water until you have a consistency not unlike paint. Usucha is what you may find in a Japanese café, and is made by quickly whisking a lower grade matcha into hot water, creating a much thinner tea (what many Westerner's think of as 'tea'). In Japan the process is as important as the result, and the notion of mindfulness is at the root of a traditional matcha ceremony. As such, it's important to have quality implements:
- Chasaku: a bamboo scoop, or measuring stick, used to measure out a serving of matcha. For example, a normal cup of matcha contains 1 chasaku, or around 1.5 grams of powder.
- Chasen: a bamboo whisk, which is used to break up clumps of matcha and create a wonderful froth.
- Chawan: a tea bowl used to prepare the matcha in, as well as drink it from. We personally love hand-fired ceramic bowls for a chawan, but you can use anything.
In addition to the traditional tea method, we here at EcceKo are big fans of a cold-brew, made by simply adding 1-2 grams of high quality matcha to a bottle of water and shaking vigorously. This is a super quick way of creating a delicious, healthy and hydrating drink in a matter of seconds.
If you're interested in trying more, why not check out our $2.00 sample: Order Now