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Matcha 101

Matcha in Japanese means ground green tea; simple as that. It is fine green tea leaves that have been gently steamed, dried and then ground into a very fine powder. Matcha can be enjoyed many ways but the most common is to whisk the powder with a liquid, hot or cold, to drink. The highest grade and exotic matcha is air and sundried and stone ground. Matcha has been used for centuries in Japan and other Asian countries for its ability to support health, concentration and wellbeing. Centuries ago Matcha was a beverage reserved only for royalty and monks. Matcha is still used by Zen Buddhist monks to help stay alert and aid in concentration during meditation. It was, and still is an important and central part of formal Tea Ceremonies. Today matcha has become a very popular drink by itself or mixed with milk, almond milk, added to smoothies or made into desserts. Because of its high phytochemical and antioxidant properties and that it provides a smooth release of caffeine into the system, matcha has become the go-to-power-drink for executives and students on the go as well as health enthusiasts and body-builders. Because of its potential to help manage weight and muscle building, it is often used as a dietary supplement. It has also become popular with celebrities and fashionistas …matcha shots (matcha mixed with hot almond milk and frothed like a late or cold almond milk and whisked, not stirred) were popular items served during Fashion Week in New York City.

A True Super Food

When drinking matcha you are taking in the entire tea leaf. That means you are getting the benefits of all the phytochemicals, including chlorophyll, antioxidants, natural caffeine and flavonoids of the tea and not just those that are water soluble and dissolved when you steep tea leaves in water. What has driven much of the popularity of matcha for health enthusiasts is that one serving of matcha has as many antioxidants as 10 cups of steeped green tea! There is also more antioxidant power in one-teaspoonful of matcha than a serving of Goji Berry (6.2x), Dark Chocolate (7x), Blueberries (17x) and even Spinach (60x). The antioxidant, flavonoid and chlorophyll from matcha have been shown to be beneficial in supporting healthy lifestyles. Persons with cancer frequently seek out products such as matcha for their high levels of antioxidants. Those who are looking to combat ageing, loss of skin-tone, memory and bad cholesterol also use matcha along with good quality fresh green tea. There also have been several studies that show that the ability of green tea to help promote fat metabolism, burn calories (boosting it from 8-10% to 35-45% of daily energy expenditures) as an aid in maintaining a healthy weight or giving a boost to healthy weight loss programs is most remarkable.

A Smarter Way To Get A Caffeine Energy Boost

Matcha provides significant levels of caffeine. Depending on the type of green tea used, a typical serving of matcha will give 60-75mg of caffeine; this is about the same as a cup of expresso. But the sustained effect of matcha gives a big advantage. The difference is the way your body absorbs that caffeine from matcha vs. coffee and because matcha contains the amino acid L-Theanine. The caffeine you get from brewed coffee (or brewed tea for that matter) is dissolved in the beverage – that means your body will get the full amount of caffeine in a matter of minutes after drinking the brew. The caffeine in matcha is in the powdered tea leaves, so caffeine is released into your system over a much longer time as the caffeine (and other nutrients) slowly moves from out of the tea product and into your system. The L-Theanine in matcha has a calming effect and also slows down the adsorption of caffeine; think of it as nature’s time release device. Many consider matcha a smarter version of Red Bull™. Instead of the quick hit and then quick let-down of this and other caffeinated energy drinks, the longer and smoother absorption of caffeine from matcha provides a steady level that helps with focus, energy and concentration over time. This is one of the reasons why those who meditate, such as Zen Buddhist monks, drink matcha before meditation. For anyone who needs a bit of a natural boost for focus, energy and concentration matcha is a better way to go then brewed coffee.

A Tasty Addition For Foods and Beverages

While many matcha aficionados enjoy the natural vegetal aroma and taste of a good quality matcha prepared in water others prefer matcha mixed with some other tasty beverage. It can be whisked into cold or warm milk, almond milk or into sweet or savory smoothies. If you’re in the mood for soup or a noodle-bowl matcha will give add a great vegetable taste as well as a great pick me up to fight post-lunch doldrums. Some die hard caffeine aficionados even add a teaspoonful of matcha to their coffee – giving a quick hit of caffeine and a slow release level of their favorite picker-upper.

Traditional Powder, Sweetened Powder and On-The-Go Packets

Traditional matcha is unsweetened and sold loose as a concentrated powder. Now matcha is also available as a pre-sweetened powder or in convenient On-The-Go pouches. These On-The-Go pouches are a fantastic way to add healthful power to fruit juice, smoothies, soups or other beverages during the day. Many a business traveler has found these matcha packets life-savers when traveling and fighting jet-lag before that big meeting.

Get In The Know

Interested in matcha? Want to learn more about matcha? Looking for ideas and ways to use matcha? The staff at Dragonfly Botanica Apothecary and Teas are here to help. Stop by our shop or give us a call and we will be happy to answer your questions and help you select a matcha product perfect for your needs and taste.

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