Whether you’ve seen it sprinkled on a doughnut or you’ve spotted it on sale at your local coffee shop, matcha seems to be everywhere right now.
The trendy ingredient is taking over social media with food bloggers and baristas finding inventive ways to mix it into all kinds of weird and wonderful recipes. Chefs and food writers are also using the vibrant green powder is a variety of sweet and savoury dishes.
What is matcha?
This superfood has actually been around for centuries and comes from the same Camellia sinensis plant as green tea. Matcha beverages go through a completely different farming process though, making them much stronger in flavour and caffeine, with a more appealing nutrient profile.
Green tea plants used for matcha are shade-grown for several weeks before harvest, which encourages the plant to produce a unique mix of caffeine and L-theanine, an amino acid which promotes calm. The leaves are then ground into a fine powder, are splashed with hot water and whisked with a bamboo brush until the mixture froths like a milky latte.
4 reasons to enjoy matcha
So what else makes matcha special? Here, we’ve rounded up a few fast facts.
1. It’s high in antioxidants
Matcha is a rich source of catechins, natural antioxidants that are found in plants. Research has widely found that antioxidants can help to slow the process of ageing by stablising free radicals, compounds that cause damage to cells and can contribute to several chronic diseases.
Unlike green tea, where the leaves are infused in hot water and then discarded, matcha drinkers consume the leaf, giving it a greater kick of antioxidants. One study by the University of Colorado found that the catechin content in matcha is around 137 times greater than in regular green tea.
2. It’ll give you a less jittery energy boost than coffee
Matcha contains caffeine, but thanks to its high L-Theanine content, the ‘buzz’ is much more long-lasting and energising.
L-Theanine causes a slow release of caffeine into the body, and has a calming, relaxing effect that counteracts the caffeine rush. Basically, it should give you that all-important pick-me-up on the commute into work, but without the jitters and subsequent energy slump.
3. It may enhance ‘fat oxidation’
A study by three different universities last year examined the effect matcha green tea drinks have on metabolic responses during brisk walking for women. The researchers found that if participants consumed three drinks the day before and one drink two hours before a 30-minute brisk walk, matcha enhanced exercised-induced fat oxidation, aka burning fat. They did say though that the metabolic effects shouldn’t be overstated if you’re trying to lose weight.
4. You can try it in loads of different forms
If you fancy having a go making a frothy green tea at home, The Tea Makers of London’s Premium Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea Powder (£8.50 for 15 sachets, Amazon) are fuss-free way of getting in on the trend without having to measure out messy powder.
Simply pour 50ml of boiling water over the contents of one sachet and whisk until it’s dispersed. Then add another 150ml of water and whisk until creamy.
The great thing about matcha, apart from it’s distinctive green hue, is that it’s a really versatile cooking ingredient. As well as hot beverages, powdered matcha can been baked into cakes, used to flavour ice cream, whizzed into smoothies or spooned into pancake batter.
Have a quick scroll through the hashtag #matcha on Instagram and you’ll find all kinds of novel inventions, alongside a few hundred thousand green lattes.
Interested in matcha recipes? Try Kimiko Barber’s delicious and colourful Kyoto tiramisu.
What is blue matcha and is it as healthy as its green cousin?
Blue matcha is made the same way as green matcha, but from a different plant: the vibrantly coloured clitoria principissae (also known as butterfly pea flowers). Much like green matcha, you can use the powder to make a tea. If you’re feeling more creative, you can blend it into smoothies or add it into your baking for that vibrant blue tinge.
Even though they are both called “matcha” the fact they come from different plants means their health benefits are by no means the same.
Blue matcha isn’t packed with quite the same number of antioxidants as its much-loved green cousin, but nor is it choc-full of caffeine. The antioxidants in green matcha are said to help prevent ageing and fight cancer, and those particular ones aren’t found in the blue alternative.
Health Magazine’s contributing nutrition editor Cynthia Sass says: “Animal research shows that [butterfly pea] may help improve memory and reduce stress, but the research is limited, and different parts of the plant – roots, stems, leaves – are used in different ways.”
So, due to a lack of research currently, we can’t be entirely sure of the health benefits of blue matcha. However, Matcha.Blue (a company that sells the product) unsurprisingly sings its praises.
It claims it offers a whole range of benefits, from improving eyesight and reducing wrinkles, to having anti-asthmatic and anti-inflammatory properties. It has also traditionally been used as an aphrodisiac for women.
These are all potentially great things, but if you’re all about the hard and fast health benefits, you’d probably be better off opting for the green version.
Stuck for inspiration? Check out our list of best-selling Amazon products!
- Authentic Japanese Origin: Experience the genuine flavor of Kagoshima, Japan with Heapwell Superfoods' Premium Grade Japanese Matcha Green Tea, sourced for its pure, unmatched taste and exceptional...
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Last update on 2023-11-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
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