The bright green, herbal energy drink from Japan
Matcha consists of finely ground green tea. Its colour, taste and preparation makes it different from other tea varieties, and this is precisely what makes it interesting.
Processing green tea into matcha powder has been common practice in Japan for centuries; the East Asian island is known today for producing the best matcha. During harvest, the top leaves are picked from the plant. Tencha is the name given to these leaves in their whole form, before they are ground. The tea plants are kept in the shade for three to four weeks before harvest with the aid of a special mat or a net. This technique ensures that the plants produce an especially large amount of chlorophyll and that they develop a strong green colour. Once the leaves have been removed, they are treated by a process of steaming, then they are dried and any hard stalks are removed. Finally, the tea is ground very carefully – just 30 grams can be produced in one hour.
With such a complicated cultivation process, it is no wonder that matcha belongs to one of the most expensive tea varieties in the world. However, connoisseurs are always willing to invest money in the bright green powder because of its very unusual aroma. A good matcha tea has a special umami flavour thanks to its high amino acid content, and is not only coveted as the fifth taste (amongst sweet, sour, salty and bitter) in Japan, but also worldwide.
|Contents||caffeine, amino acids, vitamin C|
|Storage||in an airtight container in a cool, dry place|
|Shelf life||3-4 weeks if stored correctly|
For something that requires such a complex method of production, it cannot simply be brewed with hot water. To prepare it correctly, you may require some time and a few helping tools: aside from the matcha powder, you will need a small, bamboo tea whisk, also called a ‘chasen’ and a small bowl or a wide mug. 1.5 grams of the green tea powder are enough for 60 to 100 millilitres of water. Add the tea powder to the water, which should be 80°C, and then whisk it with the chasen until the tea turns frothy. Hold it loosely and move the whisk back and forward as if you were drawing the letter “M”.
The tea is famous for its positive effects on health. Unlike other tea varieties that require the tea leaves be taken out once the tea has infused, with matcha, you consume the pulverised tea leaves and therefore ingest more nutrients and minerals. Similar to other green teas, matcha has both a relaxing and stimulating effect all at once. The contained caffeine is absorbed in the intestine rather than the stomach, which means that the stimulating effect kicks in a bit later and is generally more long-lasting.
Real matcha is light green in colour and should be bought in small quantities to avoid it losing its aroma too quickly. When beaten, a firm foam should form – this is a real indicator of good quality matcha. The powdered tea should be stored in an airtight container in a cool dark place. Once the packet has been opened, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator.
In the last few years, matcha has appeared in more and more dishes. A particularly popular matcha treat is the matcha latte; this can be mixed with foamed milk or a milk alternative like oat milk, and then sweetened to taste. It is also a tasty addition to smoothies, baked goods and ice cream – raspberry flavoured ice cream in particular. In summer, an iced tea with matcha can be a refreshing option or perhaps try it as an alcohol free Matcha Mule with a slice of cucumber, lime, soda water and ice.
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