This winter, infuse some joy and happiness into your holiday with matcha green tea! It’s just the thing to warm you up after snowshoeing or on a snowy morning while lazing at home in your pajamas.
What is matcha?
Matcha is a finely powdered green tea of Japanese origin. Traditionally, it’s prepared by whisking it into hot water, and the resulting beverage is served during the tea ceremony.
Matcha’s production method is unique! While black tea undergoes a fermentation process and “classic” green tea leaves are steamed, rolled and then dried, matcha gets the star treatment from start to finish. A few weeks before the harvest, the shrubs are protected with a porous cover to filter the sun's rays. This step naturally modifies the leaves’ chemical composition and generates various compounds (amino acids, in particular). The leaves become darker, and their flavour develops. Then, they are picked and gently dried before being stone ground. And, ta-da! You have matcha!
Matcha is a finely powdered green tea of Japanese origin served during the tea ceremony.
The magic of matcha
In addition to being delicious and promoting good hydration, green tea and its sibling matcha are credited with several health benefits, including better weight management and the prevention of certain cancers and cardiovascular diseases. So why not give it a try? It should be noted, though, that these seductive conclusions are drawn from studies that use green tea extracts or from analyzing the effect of consuming enormous quantities (e.g., four to five cups per day!) Since it’s unlikely a person would drink that much tea, sipping a cup occasionally doesn’t necessarily guarantee robust health.
Nonetheless, once you understand the limits described above, nothing prevents you from savouring a matcha latte in front of a toasty warm fire for the pure epicurean sake of it. Without thinking about the rationale for indulging in this beverage, take the time to appreciate green tea’s special flavour and comforting warmth. Wonderful, isn’t it?
It’s best to drink matcha in moderation
Matcha has stimulating properties that come from the significant amount of caffeine it contains. To give you an idea of scale, a 250-ml of filtered coffee contains 180 mg of caffeine while 1.5 g of matcha mixed with 100 ml of water contains about 50 mg. While this isn’t a huge amount of caffeine, drinking matcha before bed can delay the onset of sleep. Also, despite having a lower concentration of caffeine, matcha’s stimulating effects are felt longer than those of coffee. At least, that’s what matcha aficionados report! It's up to you to determine what suits you best!
Another possible downside is that, like other teas and coffee, matcha shouldn’t be consumed with meals. The tannin in these drinks clings to plant-derived iron molecules, preventing their efficient absorption. So, enjoy matcha one hour before or after, but not during, meals. This recommendation is especially important if you’re a pre-menopausal woman who eats very little meat, poultry or fish (these foods contain another type of iron that is not affected by pesky tannins!)
Nothing prevents you from savouring a matcha latte in front of a toasty warm fire for pure epicurean delight.
Cooking with matcha? Absolutely!
Traditionally, water is the only ingredient required to prepare matcha. However, matcha makes an original addition to a host of, mostly sweet, recipes:
- Hot or cold lattes, smoothies, cocktails
- Chia pudding or no-cook oatmeal
- Energy bars and balls
- Truffles, macaroons, chocolate
- Cakes, icing, cookies
- Muffins, waffles
- Ice cream, popsicles,
Of course, always keep in mind that adding a pinch of green tea to a dessert doesn’t counteract the effect of its sugar content! Whether or not you decide to add matcha to treats, it’s best to consider them as treats, little pleasures to indulge in occasionally.
Of course, always keep in mind that adding a pinch of green tea to a dessert doesn’t counteract the effect of its sugar content!
A great drink for the holidays!
Here’s a recipe to introduce your taste buds to matcha’s unique flavour. Heat one cup of vanilla soy beverage and ¼ cup of water in a small saucepan. In a bowl, sift ½ tsp. of matcha. Gradually pour the hot, but not boiling, liquid over the matcha while whisking. Pour into two small cups, and enjoy! The vanilla-infused, slightly sweet soy beverage mutes the tea’s bitterness, while adding a bit of calcium, vitamin D and protein to your après-ski!
Leave a comment telling us your favourite way to enjoy matcha. We, the curious gourmets at Brunet, want to know!
- Matcha, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matcha
- Tea and its health benefits, Extenso, http://www.extenso.org/article/le-the-et-ses-bienfaits-sur-la-sante/
- Caféine, Extenso, http://www.extenso.org/article/cafeine/ (article available in French only)
- Tea’s virtues, Camellia Sinensis, http://camellia-sinensis.com/en/tea-and-health.
- Iron and tea don’t make good bedfellows, Extenso, http://www.extenso.org/article/le-the-et-le-fer-ne-font-pas-bon-menage (article available in French only)