Get to know everything about Matcha Tea!
For starters, Matcha is a powdered green tea. As a matter of fact, Matcha tea first originated in China, although, later, it gained its popularity in Japan. 'Matcha' is borrowed from two Japanese words; 'Matsu' means to wipe or rub, and 'cha' means tea. This tea is famous for its immense health benefits. Besides using Matcha as a powered tea, it is also used for dying, flavoring the food, and is added to Japanese confectionery. It is popularly used in cakes and desserts.
Matcha green tea is believed to belong to the Song Dynasty of China (960-1279). It didn't stay much popular in China but flourished in Japan. It became an essential part of Zen Buddhism. In the beginning, the Matcha green tea was only provided to the upper class and the samurai warriors. Later, it was made available to all people because of its extreme health benefits. People used it as medicine to cure ailments. Other than its medical benefits, its enriching flavor increased its demand.
The Matcha Ceremony
This historical Matcha ceremony is globally famous, a vital ritual of Japanese. The symbol of the Japanese tea ritual denotes tradition, appreciation, and hospitality. These ceremonies are celebrated to appreciate the meditative observances such as summer sunsets, winter sunrises, and many other natural occurrences. Having Matcha tea as a Japanese ritual shows its prominence in people's life. It is a way to accept and value everything that is beginning or bringing a new phase of something.
Production of Matcha Tea
Everything from the production of Matcha to its intake requires intricate work. The preparation for making Matcha green tea powder starts way before it is harvested. The Matcha tea cultivators are very strict with their growth since even a slightest of change can be observed easily in the tea. The bushes of the Matcha tea are covered so that they do not get under direct sunlight. This technique leads to the slow growth of the leaves, plus they get an even darker green shade. The process of covering the bushes increases the amount of chlorophyll and also the amino acid, which in return makes it taste even sweeter. After harvesting, if the leaves of Matcha plant are rolled before drying, the result is called 'gyokuro tea.' Rather the doing this, if the leaves are left flat to dry and get crumbled themselves, the result is called 'tencha.' This tencha is then de-veined, de-stemmed, and pressed until it becomes a fine powder. This powder ought to be a bright green, talc-like texture, which is called Matcha.
The tea is usually made from younger tea leaves. Unlike other teas whose leaves are steeped for preparation, the tea leaves of Matcha are whisked in hot water. This is because, in the steeping process, the green tea leaves loose much of its nutrients and other beneficial contents. Whisking the tea leaves in hot water helps in sustaining the important nutrients, thus making it worth a tea.
How much Caffeine does Matcha have?
At this fast juncture, almost all of us require an energy-boosting drink. Coffee is one such common drink that is had by a number of people on a daily basis. If you think that coffee is the only natural drink to boost your energy, then you are wrong. Camellia sinensis is a plant that contains caffeine. This plant is used in many types of teas, whether green tea of black tea. Therefore, any tea which contains Camellia sinensis does have caffeine in it. One such tea is Matcha.
Some people are of a habit of waking and heading to the kitchen straight away to make a piping hot cup of joe. Well, if given an option, you can go with a hot cup of Matcha too since both of them contain almost the same amount of caffeine (depending on your taste and amount of coffee beans you use). It is not just the caffeine contents but also the antioxidants, which in Matcha green tea, which are approximately ten times more than any other such beverage. This is because instead of just the essence of the tea, which ingests the whole leaf, a whole pack of nutrients without wasting any of it.
For instance, an 8-ounce cup of coffee will have about 70 to 140 mg of caffeine (depending upon the types of beans you take and their brewing level). The same cup of 8 ounces of Matcha green tea has around 70 mg of caffeine. Even a routine cup of espresso has 65 mg of caffeine in it. Since there is not much difference, Matcha green tea can give you the same amount of energy boost as does a cup of coffee.
Besides caffeine, Matcha also contains L-Theanine, which delivers a soothing and calming sensation to your body. This energy booster drink is also popular among people who wish to manage their body weight, lower their bad cholesterol. It even has some antioxidants which prevent cancers too.
EGCG and its Benefits
EGCG stands for 'Epigallocatechin gallate.' Basically, it is a plant that is known for its healthy compounds. Some of the major advantages of intaking EGCG are that it reduces inflammation, aids in weight loss, and prevents diseases chronic for heart and brain. EGCG is a potent antioxidant that helps in the protection of cells from damaging and their regeneration. Besides the antioxidants, EGCG is filled with catechin in abundance, which is one of the most powerful elements of any green tea. It is usually found in fruits such as cranberry, kiwis, strawberries, pears, peaches, apples, and avocados; found in nuts such as hazelnuts, pistachios, and pecans. EGCG is quite a common part of many types of teas, such as green tea, white tea, oolong tea, and black tea.
Matcha green tea contains a huge amount of EGCG if made sure that its preparation is carried according to guidance. What happens is, the rolling and drying process of any green tea let go of all the EGCG and its antioxidants. Even the fermentation of green tea leaves does sustain all the healthy contents of the tea. That is why, in the case of Matcha tea, the leaves are whisked in hot water. It is a delicate process that requires a lot of patience. This is what makes Matcha green tea different from other teas.
Grades and quality of Matcha tea:
In the industry of tea production, tea leaf grading is a vital process. It means to evaluate the products based on their quality and judge the condition of the tea leaves in those products. In this way, the highest quality products are ranked to top, and the rest grading goes on in ascending order.
Since Matcha green tea requires extensive work, patience, and costs more than regular green teas, it undergoes a vigilant grading process. Matcha is a very refined green tea that involves hard labor and technical harvesting. The grading of Matcha green tea is carried according to the different texture and color of the tea leaves. The measures to differentiate each grade from another are already set according to the preference and usage of the tea. Now you would think that it is not easy for a layman to differentiate the tea and grade them, but you are wrong. For your own concern, you can easily judge the tea leaves and grade them for usage. The following are the grades of Matcha tea with their features for your acknowledgment.
Thin Matcha is also known as Usucha, which is a Japanese word, meaning 'light brown.' The making of thin Matcha tea requires less of the tea itself and more water. Because of this, the intensity of the Matcha tea leaves increases. The Thin Matcha grade has the highest amount of amino acids in it.
Thick Matcha is also called Koicha. Unlike thin Matcha, Thick Matcha requires more tea and less water for preparation. The tea used in Thick Matcha involves only the youngest and the tenderest leaves of all. This grade of Thick Matcha is known as the highest-quality grade. It is the one generally used in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Culinary grade Matcha
Culinary grade Matcha is also known as Ingredient grade Matcha. The leaves of this tea are chosen from below the plant's top and the bud set. Generally found in the lower part of the plant, these leaves are less delicate in nature since these are older than the rest. So basically, the aged leaves are used for making Culinary grade Matcha. These leaves have premium stems as they are old; therefore, the stems of these leaves are not removed while grounding and whisking the tea leaves for making the powder. Culinary Grade Matcha is popular in making drinks, ice-creams, and cooking sweet and savory recipes.
All of the above grades of Matcha tea are considered high and premium quality teas for any kind of consumption.
Key Consideration while buying Matcha tea
There exist some basic points according to which the Matcha tea is made. These points are the set measures to be reached so as to produce the finest of Matcha tea. Following are the key considerations:
- Location of leaves on the tree
So as to get tencha for Matcha, the leaves are taken from certain parts of the trees. It is obvious that the top of the tree has the softest and the supplest leaves. These are the younger leaves that are best suited for making Matcha. It is because the tree tends to provide more nutrients to the growing leaves, and therefore the old leaves are less nutrient and harder in texture. Even the amount of chlorophyll is more in young leaves than the older one, which gives Matcha tea a stronger green color. If wrong leaves (old leaves) are chosen, the tea will give a bitter after-taste, and the color of the tea will dull brown-green.
- Pre-Grinding Process
Unlike the other tea leaves which are dried in sunlight before grinding, the leaves of Matcha tea are rather dried in the shade. It is made to ensure that the leaves are not directly exposed to the sunlight because the production of Matcha tea requires slow processing of leaves. The leaves are therefore dried indoors, where there is no possibility of having them ruined. This drying process is the very reason for the fine green color of the Matcha tea.
- Grinding Process
It is to be made sure that the dried leaves are grounded properly. The whole part of the leaf, including its stem, is grounded so as not to leave any nutrient-specific part for the tea. If the tea leaves are not grounded properly, they will result in poor quality Matcha, which will appear dull and burnt-like. Another thing to keep in mind is that the leaves are to be grounded at a slow pace. If the tea leaves are grounded at a fast pace, the friction from grinding delivers enough heat to leave the tea leaves burnt from the grinding process. In the traditional and authentic making of Matcha tea, the granite stone mills are used, which cause almost no heat and produce fine-textured powder Matcha tea.
- Preventing Oxidation of tea is the key.
When the grinding process is completed, and the tea is ready, it is immediately packed and shipped. The tea is prevented from being exposed to oxygen. Oxidation of tea affects the color and texture of the tea and tends to smell like hay. Reducing the exposure of oxygen ensures the premium quality of the Matcha tea.
The above are the key considerations while producing Matcha tea. Make sure that the company/brand, from which you are buying Matcha, follows the above measures.
Preparation Of Matcha Tea:
Matcha tea is being for thousands of years and is stilled relished. Although the traditional preparation of Matcha tea is considered to be authentic and the best, a few changes in the manner of preparation are seen with the time. The following are the traditional accessories that are used by the Japanese for their exclusive Japanese tea ceremony.
- Bamboo Scoop
- Hand Strainer
- Whisk and Whisk holder
- Strainer Can
- Matcha Bowls
Following are the steps to prepare Match tea (there may be more ways of preparing Matcha tea):
- In the first step of Matcha tea preparation, you have to sieve Matcha tea so as to break the lumps, if there exist any. For this, a special sieve is used, which is made from stainless steel and fine wire mesh. The Matcha tea is forced into the sieve using a wooden spatula. (In a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, the sieved Matcha tea is then put into a small tea caddy which is known as chaki). Else, in general cases, the tea once sieved is directly put into the tea bowl.
- The tea sieved is placed into the bowl in a small amount. Traditionally, a bamboo scoop is used to put the tea in the bowl, which is called chashaku. Now you have to pour a small amount of hot water in the same bowl. Remember that the water should be hot and not boiling. After this, the mixture of Matcha tea and water is whisked well to have good consistency of the liquid. Traditionally, a special kind of whisk is used to whisk the tea, which is made from bamboo and is called chasen. It makes sure that no lumps are left in the liquid. The process is said to be ideal if there is no ground tea left on the sides of the bowl.
- To make thin Matcha tea, also called Usucha, half teaspoon of Matcha is mixed with about 75 ml of hot water. Although there are steps to make Usuacha (thin Matcha), the preparations vary from different preferences of people. Some people whip the tea well to have a frothy thin Matcha, whereas some people try to lower the occurrence of froth as much as they can. The amount of water in thin Matcha also differs among people. Usucha is usually lighter and more bitter than the rest tea.
- While making Koicha, which is thick Matcha, you require more tea and less water. The Matcha tea can be used upto six teaspoons with ¾ cup of water. Since the texture of this tea is thick, it requires a slow stirring process, which caused no or less foam. For making thick Matcha special kind of chasen (whisk) is used to stir is slowly. Koicha is the tea which is almost always had in Japanese tea ceremonies. The taste of Koicha is much sweeter than Usucha.
Matcha is the prime tea when it comes to health benefits:
If you are asking that is Matcha beneficial for your health, then yes, a hundred times yes! Since Matcha is the prime healthy tea, it is used in many food preparations such as energy bars, cereals, frozen yogurts, etc. People incorporate Matcha into their dish just for the sake of make it healthier. Following are the key benefits that you will attain from Matcha tea :
- Say yes to energy and no to anxiety or jitters
The amount of antioxidants in Matcha tea is amazing. One of the most important antioxidants is L-theanine. Matcha tea also has a good amount of caffeine since it is known for boosting your energy. Now some people feel anxiety and jitters when they intake caffeine. But because you wish to boost your energy, Matcha is perfect for you. It has a balanced beverage because the blend of L-theanine and caffeine does not cause you any jitters or anxiety. If you doubt the energy-boosting capacity of Matcha, then you should not worry at all. Matcha gives you all the energy of one good espresso shot, without any jitter. You can have hours of long-lasting energy with a cup of Matcha.
- Want to have better immunity?
It is vital to have strong immunity, especially in this era, where new viruses are evolving with no time. At this fast juncture, you cannot afford to get sick that too quite often. Nobody liked being sick. Strengthening immunity can resolve a lot of health problems. Matcha green tea does its magic to enhance your immunity. It helps in destroying the growth of viruses and bacteria in your body. Matcha contains a prime catechin antioxidant called EGCG. EGCG stands for 'Epigallocatechin gallate.' It is a potent antioxidant that helps in the protection of cells from damaging and their regeneration. It has the potential to fight A virus, Hepatitis Virus, Strep Throat disease, and Herpes Virus.
- Weight loss isn't a big deal now
Have you been working out tremendously and getting unsatisfactory results? Well, add Matcha tea to your diet plan. It is tested and stated that Matcha tea could do wonders on the issue of weight loss. The component of Matcha that is EGCG is excellent in burning fat. In addition to EGCG, caffeine also boosts your metabolism and burns much of your calories on a daily basis. The catechins in this tea generate the process of thermogenic fat burning in your body. According to a study, you can reduce your mass fat and waist circumference within 12 weeks. Besides intaking Matcha tea, you should never forget the value of exercise and workout. Give it a try and see results for yourself.
- Improving your Heart health
In this era of fast food intake and unhealthy junk food consumption, it has become vital that you keep your body health, especially your heart. Besides depending on tablets and regular medicines, you can go along with some natural ailments too. Not instantly, but in the long run, Matcha tea may help you prevent any heart disease. Unlike other green teas that are steeped, Matcha tea is much more beneficial for your heart. Adding Matcha tea into your regular diet can prevent you from having a heart stroke. Of course, Matcha is not everything that you need for cardiac wellness. Including all the necessary vegetables, whole grains, and food with low fat, sugar, bad cholesterol, and sodium, a planned diet is important too. Introducing Matcha tea into your healthy eating pattern can improve the chances of a healthy heart. Don't put the excuse of Matcha tea against the exercises; that is a must!
- Have you thought about oral health?
Not all energy-boosting beverages are good for your teeth, mind that. Having bacterial cavities in your mouth induces foul smell and sulfur compounds. Now you would not want to have bad breath, and neither do we. The concentration of H(2)S and CH(3)SH gases run wild bad smell from your mouth, especially when you have coffee. Coffee is acidic in nature; therefore, the bacterial cavities reproduce even faster than usual. Matcha tea is here to save you. This tea reduces the concentration of gases that causes bacteria. Matcha tea is highly recommended if you want to stay away from cavities and bad breath.
- Having good skin for real is not a challenge anymore
Many of you would not know, but Matcha's face mask is a treasure for your skin. It is a perfect anti-aging substance since the catechin in Matcha tea decreases the free radicals in your skin. Matcha also has anti-inflammatory properties, which reduces redness and acne in your skin. Whatever your skin type is, you can always rely on Matcha for skin treatments. It also enhances your skin complexion while exfoliating and eliminating dead skin cells. Besides this, Matcha is valuable and protects against sun damage, dry skin, dark spots, wrinkles, and age spots. Matcha is best for oily skin treatment; it reduces oil and prevents your skin from producing acne.