What is Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha has become quite the buzzword because of its “superfood” status, but if you haven’t looked into it you may be wondering what it tastes like and how it compares to other beverages, like green tea or coffee.
Here are some of the basics you need to know about matcha green tea; however, the best way to truly become acquainted with matcha is to prepare a cup for yourself!
What is Matcha?
If you are new to matcha, this might be the first question on your mind, “Is matcha the same as green tea?” Yes and no.
Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis plant. While this is the same plant that is used to make traditional green tea, matcha is processed in a specific way that creates a vibrant shade of green and also an earthy, umami, slightly bitter flavor. Plants are grown in shady areas for three to four weeks before they are harvested. Growing the plant in the shade helps the plant produce the maximum amount of chlorophyll, and the verdant hue of the leaves is preserved in the steaming process that follows. Then, the dried leaves are stone ground into the fine green powder we call matcha.
There are many differences between matcha and green tea. From the way the plants are grown, processed, and enjoyed to the end result (the taste!), these two beverages are quite distinct. As a consumer, you will notice that while green tea is sold as dried leaves (usually in a tea bag), matcha is a fine powder. Rather than steeping the dried green tea leaves in hot water and removing them before drinking, you consume the entire green tea leaf when drinking matcha. For this same reason, matcha offers beneficial nutritional value and has a higher caffeine content than standard green tea.
History of Matcha
Over the last few years, matcha has become popular because of its rich health benefits (and there are many!). Today, matcha green tea powder is a common ingredient used in the kitchen and in cafes— you might find it in smoothies, candy, ice creams, and more commonly in lattes. While it is typically known as a traditional Japanese drink, it originated in China. The origins of matcha date back to around 600, during the Tang Dynasty. In the 1100s, a Zen Buddhist monk in China returned to Japan with matcha and developed a devotional practice called “the way of tea,” which honored the beauty in our flawed world.
The Japanese developed the tradition of tea ceremony using matcha. They crafted the process into a unique art form by creating specific steps in the process. They worked diligently to develop the finer details, from the design of their tea room to hand movements made during the ceremony and detailed instructions on how to prepare and sip the green tea: a moving meditation, if you will. They even specified a way to sit while sipping matcha tea.
Types of Matcha (Grades of Matcha)
Matcha is grown in various regions throughout Japan. Where and how the plants are grown produces matcha powder with different flavor profiles and shades of green.
Matcha comes in two grades:
CEREMONIAL GRADE MATCHA
This grade offers the highest quality matcha. It is crafted from buds and leaves that have been carefully cultivated. To achieve ceremonial-grade matcha, much care and attention are given to details during processing. This produces its fresh, delicate, and smooth taste. Ceremonial-grade matcha is best enjoyed without the addition of sweeteners or additives. You can find both organic and conventional ceremonial-grade matcha, depending on the growing practices of the tea farms.
CULINARY GRADE MATCHA
Culinary-grade matcha is often paired with other flavors, sweeteners, or additives. The flavor profile can be more astringent and robust, so it can handle being paired with other ingredients. This form is often more affordable than ceremonial-grade and is a popular addition to baked goods, candy, and beverages for its flavor and green color.
What Does Matcha Taste Like?
Matcha tea has a complex flavor profile. The pleasant and unique combination of tastes is referred to as umami. That vibrant matcha green color translates into the flavor as well. The flavor profile of matcha includes notes of vegetal, nutty sweetness, and a touch of bitterness. Some matcha drinkers detect a balance of sweet and savory notes. Higher quality matcha will have less bitterness, a more vibrant color, and heightened flavor notes but tend to be pricier.
After reading this description of what matcha tastes like, you might be surprised to learn what flavors go well with matcha, and how many there are! Visit your local coffee shop and you can find many tasty flavor pairings. Some of our favorites are lemon, mint, vanilla, lavender, maple, and strawberry. Matcha is a versatile ingredient for many recipes in the kitchen because the flavor is complemented by so many others. Our top choice, though, is the pairing of matcha with chocolate! If you don’t believe us on this one, try it for yourselves.
How to Make Matcha Green Tea
Matcha green tea is prepared differently than other teas, which are brewed and steeped. Some contemporary drinkers of matcha will stick close to tradition by creating a ritual out of the preparation of their morning matcha; however, you don’t have to purchase special equipment in order to enjoy matcha. If you choose to go the traditional route, however, you will want to purchase a bamboo whisk and a small wide-mouth bowl. If you don’t have a bamboo whisk, simply use a spoon or a small wire whisk. Electronic frothers are also a popular, more modern method for whisking matcha. Below are instructions for preparing matcha green tea.
- Bring filtered water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. A stovetop or electric kettle is often used, but a simple saucepan with a spout works too. Let it cool for one or two minutes.
- Add ½ teaspoon of matcha powder to a small bowl. Fill ¼ to ⅓ of the bowl with the hot water. You will notice that the matcha powder and hot water don’t combine instantly. You must stir with a bamboo whisk or frother until it forms a smooth paste or thick, uniform liquid. This stage of the matcha will appear much darker in color than the end result.
- Slowly add the rest of the hot water to the bowl and stir gently. Mix the two gently by swirling the bowl or stirring until a thin frothy foam develops on top. Moving the whisk in the shape of a “W” is a helpful method for a perfectly blended matcha.
- Sip. Savor. Enjoy!
If you are new to matcha, you may find the taste of matcha green tea to be a bit too earthy or bitter for your liking. Some say that matcha is an acquired taste. You might be wondering how to make matcha taste good. In that case, we suggest starting with preparing a matcha latte. Simply follow steps 1 and 2 in the recipe above, then fill your cup with half hot water and half warm milk (or your favorite non-dairy alternative). Add honey, maple syrup, or your preferred sweetener to taste. There are also delicious variations of matcha lattes that you might try, such as a golden milk, strawberry matcha, or matcha rose latte.
Is it Okay to Consume Matcha Every Day?
It is most definitely safe to drink matcha every single day. You will want to take into consideration the caffeine content though. Matcha has more caffeine than other green teas but less than a cup of coffee. Use moderation based on your personal preference and how sensitive your body is to caffeine. So, can you drink matcha at night? Well, only you can determine that for sure, but if caffeine disrupts your sleep cycle, you may want to avoid consuming matcha after 4pm. However, some people who are sensitive to coffee may enjoy matcha as an alternative with some amazing health benefits.
Ways to Use Matcha
Recently, the use of matcha has increased as reports of its health benefits have gained attention, and you may have noticed it in drinks and food items of all sorts. While a prepared tea or matcha latte is most popular, the powder is easy to use in a wide variety of applications in the kitchen, running the gamut from ice cream to salad dressings. There are even skincare products that use matcha as an ingredient. Incorporating matcha into your daily routine is a great way to bring joy to your tastebuds and experience the numerous health benefits.
Take your Love for Matcha to the next level
For those who love to start their day with a delicious matcha latte, we’ve formulated the most decadent Matcha Latte Chocolate Bar enhanced with adaptogens like ashwagandha and l-theanine to melt stress away, bringing you to the present moment with a calm state of mind and greater balance. Each bite of the Strawberry Matcha chocolate bar evokes the satisfying flavor of your favorite matcha latte, sprinkled with summery sweet and tart strawberries.SHOP MATCHA CHOCOLATE