Meet your Matcha!
You’d be forgiven if you think Matcha is a recent invention. It was kind of not there and then there in a big way and in everything. Matcha has actually been cultivated in Japan’s Uji region, near Kyoto for about 1000 years, and whisked up and enjoyed just as long. That matcha translated is a rather no-frills “ground tea” matters not to fans for whom this beverage is almost a religion.
Green tea leaves for matcha are plucked in the dewiness of spring. Some tea growers shade their gardens for several weeks before harvest, boosting nutrients to the leaves and creating a balanced sweet and umami flavour profile. Shameless plug – the farmer Blink Tea gets its matcha from pipes in opera music while the tea bushes are shaded. A relaxed tea leaf is a happy, and tasty, tea leaf.
Once the tea leaves for matcha are plucked they are steamed to arrest oxidation. The leaves are then stone-milled to create a powder of only the green part of the leaf, without stems and veins. Creating top quality, Ceremonial Grade Matcha is Japan’s equivalent to a superb vintage burgundy or aged serrano ham. The results of years of knowledge and passion know no comparison.
The resulting matcha, or ground tea, is bursting with nutritional goodness. It contains upwards of 26 amino acids and 60 times the antioxidants of spinach. Matcha is high in caffeine: 60 – 80 mg per cup, still less than half that in a cup of coffee. Plus, the caffeine in matcha releases at a longer steadier rate, giving you relaxed focus. No coffee spikes or crashes.
Japan hasn’t claimed “origin status” for matcha, unlike France has for Champagne or India for Darjeeling. This means matcha can be grown anywhere with a similar climate and be called matcha. True matcha, the good stuff, only comes from the Uji region of Japan; nothing else comes close in terms of quality or nutritive value. So, when you’re shopping for matcha, authenticity really does matter.
As we’ve all seen by now, matcha is incredibly versatile. It’s great on its own, in lattes, ice cream, even topped by pilsner beer – yes, it’s incredibly tasty. It works equally well in savoury and sweet dishes. Matcha cheesecake anyone? This no-bake recipe is a stand-out – and the visuals are mesmerizing!
In all, matcha is one of those graces that nature has bestowed on humanity. It’s packed with nutrients, is healthy and works hard for its money in terms of versatility. Matcha works as an occasional treat or as your everyday eyeopener. It delivers on all counts. Matcha is the up that never lets you down.