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Matcha Tea - from the ground up

Matcha Tea - from the ground up

The green powder that is Matcha tea will come as a surprise to those used to tea-bags or leaves. While Matcha tea may be new to us, it has been used in Asia for hundreds of years. As well as being a tasty tea, it is an incredibly popular flavouring agent, found in everything from tempura to ice cream.

So what is Matcha tea?

 It comes from the same plant as green and black tea, although it is harvested and prepared differently. For a primer on ‘standard’ tea and how it is made, read this.

To produce matcha tea, the bushes are shaded for a few weeks before harvesting, which raises chlorophyll levels in the leaves. Once plucked, the leaves are heated as for normal green tea to prevent fermentation. The leaves are dried, but at this point they are finely ground rather than being kept intact. Hence matcha tea is a powder.

What do I do with it? 

Take a spoonful of the powder and add hot (not boiling) water to make a paste. Add more hot water, stir and drink. The powder can also be used as a cooking ingredient and a food colouring.

What are the health benefits?

Because the matcha tea powder is swallowed, it provides more antioxidants and l-theanine than standard tea where we discard the leaves.  L-theanine has a similar biochemical structure to glutamic acid, which is also reported to have a calming effect on the central nervous system. Matcha also contains the stimulant caffeine, useful in small quantities for improved cognitive function.

What about the other claims?

Matcha tea is touted by its followers to aid weightloss and have detox qualities. While the caffeine may provide a tiny increase in metabolic rate, it doesn’t appear to be enough to make a huge difference to overall body weight.

Enjoy your matcha tea – even if it's no miracle cure-all - tea's always a great addition to a healthy diet and lifestyle!