“Matcha: (n) Powdered green tea, used in Japanese Tea ceremonies and to sweeten drinks and other Japanese treats, prepared by mixing powder with hot water. “
This is the official definition of Matcha tea (thanks as always, dictionary.com), a recent food craze that has been cycling through the wellness markets and lauded for its surprising health benefits. Of course, the first thing that I notice when I look at or think of Matcha is, of course, its color! It’s a spectacular green, halfway between lime and healthy grass, and brilliantly pure and vibrant. Seriously, they should make a “Matcha Green” paint chip. Seeing as I do run a blog intending to explore color in our lives, it’s only logical that I do a post on Matcha, the magical.
Matcha, pure and simple, is magic because it has managed to surpass its mere biological boundaries. It is amazing example of how one item, especially food, can bring together the old, the new, the young, the old, and the soon-to-come. Matcha has gotcha covered on four fronts: biologic, historic, nostaligic, and futuristic.
Firstly, the Biologic. The literal food Matcha is amazing, and I am officially addicted to it. It’s a tea- the highest quality and most pure form of green tea available, stored in an oxygen free environment to preserve its raw and powerful antioxidants. To make it, baby green tea leaves are grown painstakingly in the shade and handpicked, then ground into a powder as fine as baby powder. Yes, it comes with a pretty price tag, but is so worth it because it is SO GOOD for you.
On the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) scale used to measure antioxidant content in foods, Matcha contains a whopping 1,573 units per gram: Over five times what other leading and praised antioxidant rich foods contain! Not to mention that 60% of the antioxidants found in this bright green powder are made up of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCg), the catechin most well-known for its cancer fighting properties. That’s more than 100 times the EGCg level than any other tea in the market! Talk about a magic, cancer-busting beverage! Not to mention that Matcha can quadruple one’s metabolism.
Me? I’m a caffeine addict. Tea, coffee, you name it. Matcha? It’s a caffeine haven. Yet, it’s even better—a drink made with Matcha can provide the caffeine content of a cup of coffee, yet without the dreaded “crash” after a few hours of drinking. Because it contains a large amount of L-Theanine, an amino acid associated with increased alpha brain wave activity without later-induced drowsiness, Matcha can provide lasting energy for up to six hours after consumption. Take it from someone who knows, as I spent many a late night running off of this magical green plant to study for tests. It’s no wonder that Japanese warriors used to drink it before battle or meditating monks sipped on the beverage to remain alert.
Which brings me to Part 2: Matcha—The Historic. While it’s a “new” health craze now, Matcha has been around for centuries in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, which to me are truly magical, as they represent far more than just the consumption of a beverage.
A tea ceremony is a respected and time-honored tradition in Japanese culture. Involving elaborate rules for tea preparation and performance technique, they most importantly represent the gathering of individuals for human interaction, connection, and meditation. These ceremonies bring together the essential values of harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility and apply them in a collective nature to the participants. They foster human connection, which is something we all must strive for in order to live fulfilling lives.
The tea, obviously, is the center of such ceremonies, and as a result is the means to that sense of connectedness. Matcha is the glue that brings together tradition to participant, and as a consequence, individuals end a ceremony as one solidly functioning, cohesive community, which is something that we must continually cultivate, even in the crazy-busy 21st century.
For me, Matcha is also nostalgic—it brings back memories from one fabulous family vacation I took when I was younger, and the adventures I had.
We were vacationing in Japan in conjunction with a conference for my parent’s work. One day after a series of meetings, we headed out to visit a local bonsai garden and do some exploring. What we ended up finding was that the garden was laced with mini paths and boardwalks for explorers to meander through, and ended in a little tea house at the far side, which we stumbled across and subsequently entered.
We were seated around a low table, sitting cross-legged on cushions on the ground as is customary in Japan. While my sister and I, being young, were unable to truly appreciate the cultural experience of the tea ceremony, what that memory brings to mind is thoughts of a time of carefree togetherness and love between cultures, friends, and family members alike. The performers in the ceremony sat and shared with us, and took turns holding me and my sister on their laps. My family spent quality time observing such a special ceremony and, most importantly, observing it together.
Japanese and American, sister and tea ritual performer, parents and children, strangers and acquaintances were brought together for a meal, and it was all assisted and represented by the unifying power of Matcha tea.
Now, Matcha has “reentered” my life, in a futuristic way. And it has continued to be a magical addition to popular culture. It is being applied to everything: and I mean everything. Or at least, I’m applying it to everything. The food world has taken Matcha far beyond just a plain hot tea and has dressed it up, now regularly serving Matcha lattes, waffles, smoothies, rice, ice cream, and so much more. It is coming to the rise again, out of Japanese history now into American (and the world’s) present and future. It is inspiring creativity among modern individuals, as they pull from history and tradition to join together in a community of Matcha Adventurers, unified by the one bright green ingredient they all love.
The result of the Matcha hype, for me, then, is one of a biologic, historic, nostalgic, and futuristic nature. The world is coming together unified by a spectacular tea, and is coloring the food market green in the process.
Life is green. Life is good. Family, friends, and foodies alike are shading in the coloring book of life with some tea leaves and some good food. Food is deliciously powerful. And in the case of Matcha, it is delectably neon green.
I’ve linked to some great Matcha recipes—check them out! What have you tried making with Matcha? Do you like how it tastes? Comment below!
- Matcha Waffles: Now these green Matcha Waffles are sure to be a welcome change from the normal Sunday Brunch!
- Matcha Smoothies: Try this recipe for a basic Matcha smoothie perfect for hot summer mornings! Then, be adventurous and customize it however you like, adding greens, fruit, coconut milk, or other inventive mix-ins!
- “Matchamisu” Matcha Tiramisu: A guilty pleasure and traditional coffee dessert updated with the green, new powder.
- Homemade Matcha Pasta Noodles: If you have the time, try this spectacular recipe for a special- and certainly green- dinner
- Matcha Green Tea Latte: You’re seeing them in Starbucks and coffee shops galore. Go back to the basics of Matcha and prepare an energizing hot latte
- Matcha Ice Cream: Try this lightened-up version of traditional ice cream, using Matcha and bananas to make a totally clean ice cream for cooling off in this July heat!
Matcha gotcha loving life.