Posted on | September 3, 2009 | 2 Comments
Marlene Parrish writes about matcha in the Pittsburg Post-Gazette:
“In foodie circles these days, there is much ado about green tea. Americans are used to seeing dark, dried tea leaves, loose or in tea bags. But when certain Japanese green teas are dried and powdered, the result is matcha. Other green teas are grown throughout the world, but matcha is unique to Japan, where it is used for a beverage or as an ingredient in pastries and confections. I became a fan of matcha when I vacationed for a month in Tokyo a few months back.
Matcha (pronounced mah-chah) is the heart of the Japanese way of tea, and it has been celebrated in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony for hundreds of years. The stylized formal ritual involves special cups, ladles, hot pots of water, and matcha, frothed and foamy from brisk stirring with a bamboo whisk.
When served hot, matcha tea has a complex flavor. At first sip, it is grassy/vegetal, which gives way to a light bitterness and then a gentle sweetness. The first time I tasted a cup of full-bodied, hot matcha, it reminded me of my initial tastes of very dark chocolate — complex.
When used in recipes for confections and sweets, however, the taste of matcha becomes subtle. It blends easily with the ingredients in lattes, smoothies, all sorts of cakes, even sauces.
Why should you care much about matcha? The hottest buzzword in nutrition marketing is antioxidants. If we believe what we read in the wellness magazines, we should eat blueberries, pomegranates and spinach and drink green tea because their antioxidants can keep aging and diseases such as cancer at bay.
But not all antioxidants are created equal. In terms of its nutritional value and antioxidant content, one glass of (powdered) matcha tea is the equivalent of 10 glasses of green tea brewed from tea leaves. That’s because when you drink matcha green tea, you ingest the whole leaf, not just the brewed extract.
I don’t want to get too technical, but matcha contains an amino acid (L-theanine) known to relax the mind, which gives it another plus as a mood enhancer. (Buddhist monks drank matcha to assist in meditation. Maybe they still do.) The amino acids, I’m told, give matcha its distinctive taste and rich, almost creamy, mouth feel. There is just enough caffeine to give a light buzz, call it a calm alertness, for a few hours. But my favorite reason to drink matcha is that some scientists believe that one of the antioxidants in green tea suppresses the appetite, giving it weight loss and fat-burning qualities.
Any drink that can claim the trifecta of stimulant, relaxant and fat-burner is, well, my cup of tea.”
Got Matcha? Order here.
Interested in Matcha Green Tea Recipes? Ms. Parrish continues writing about matcha and gives three excellent green tea match recipes. Click on “Read More” – Pittsburgh Post Gazette; Photo: Rebecca Droke