How to Drink Matcha Tea + 4 Awesome Matcha Recipes
Matcha is an old-world food that is kinda having a moment right now. Made from ground, whole tea leaves, this bright green powder adds a unique, grassy flavor to drinks, desserts and even savory recipes. But most importantly, it’s nutritious! Read below to learn all about matcha drink — how to drink it, how to cook with it, and where it came from.
The History and Health of Matcha Tea
Matcha has a long history in Japan, and this is where nearly all matcha comes from today. The history of matcha tea is rooted in Zen Buddhism, and dates back to 1191. According to this article on NPR’s The Salt, the Japanese Zen Buddhist monk Eisai planted tea seeds gathered in China around the hills of Kyoto, where they thrived, and became a tradition among the monks who felt that the tea helped them with their meditation practice. The buzz got around, and it became commonplace in Japan, and continues to be popular today. It continues to be one of the foundations of the Japanese tea ceremony.
Matcha comes from the same plant that makes black, green, white, and oolong teas (known as Camellia Sinesis), but it’s processed differently. Green tea is generally minimally processed, and like many other high-quality teas, the leaves are mostly hand-picked. Then they are steamed, air-dried and de-stemmed. Then the leaves are left to dry for about a year before being stone ground on traditional handmade stone wheels.
Matcha Tea Today
There was no definitive moment when matcha became popular here in the US, although it might have been when Starbucks created a blended beverage made with matcha powder. Their drink is loaded with dairy and sugar, but that’s not how all matcha drinks need to be. Matcha without extra sugar and dairy is the healthiest.
Karen Collins, a nutrition adviser at the American Institute of Cancer Research, says that matcha tea is definitely a healthy beverage, but it needs to be, “put it in the context of your overall healthy eating pattern.” While there are some studies suggesting it could help reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease, she warns that we shouldn’t consider it a magical health elixir.
How to Drink Matcha Tea
Unlike other teas which are steeped (either loose or in teabags) and then removed, matcha comes in a powder form and it is mixed into the water (or other base). Generally the entire leaf is consumed.
You can purchase matcha tea at your local natural food stores; it’s often sold in powder form, but sometimes in teabags. There are a variety of brands, including Republic of Tea, Teavana, Do Matcha and Rishi, Pukka and more.
How to drink traditional warm matcha green tea:
1. Choose your favorite matcha powder. Measure out 1-2 teaspoons into a small sifter, and press through to sift the powder into a small, wide bowl.
2. Bring water to a boil, and let stand for about 30 seconds before pouring. Gently pour water into the bowl, and use a matcha whisk, known as a chasen, or a regular whisk in a pinch. Whisk back and forth until the tea is a bit foamy. For a stronger tea, use about 2 ounces of water, for a thinner tea, use up to six ounces.
3. Pour into a teacup and drink quickly, as the tea will settle.
How to drink iced matcha green tea:
1. Choose your favorite matcha powder. Measure out 1-2 teaspoons into a small jar or cocktail shaker with ice. Add about a half cup filtered water. Shake until all powder is dissolved, then add to a glass of ice.
2. Add more water to taste- about three ounces should be good.
4 Awesome Matcha Recipes
Aside from just drinking your matcha straight up, you can use this powerful powder in recipes too.
Matcha Green Tea Latte: Take your matcha drinking to the next level with a matcha latte. Choose your favorite plant-based milk and whisk in your matcha for a super decadent version of your morning drink. Find the recipe on The Roasted Root. This would also be super good on ice!
Raw Vegan Matcha Nice Cream Sandwiches: Radiant Rachels features a totally vegan and fully raw recipe made with just a few ingredients. The cake features almond flour, coconut, dates, and of course, a good dose of matcha powder.
Vegan Green Tea Ginger Vegan Whoopie Pies: Glue and Glitter features an ultimate sweet treat, boosted with matcha to make it feel slightly more healthy, right?
Chocolate Matcha Butter Cups: Chocolate goes with everything, especially matcha. Get a superfood burst with this dark chocolate and bright green combo from Keepin’ it Kind.
Tea ceremony image from ThinkStock; all other image from respective blogs, used with permission