Matcha, or maccha, is powdered green tea, principally grown and manufactured in Japan. It can be part of the Japanese tea ceremony, or it may be added to certain foods to provide color and/or flavor. Soba noodles may get their green coloring from matcha, and most Americans familiar with Japanese dining have tasted matcha in the form of green tea ice cream.
Matcha is made with very specific tea leaves that have been covered a few weeks prior to harvesting, to slow growth and thus produce a greater share of amino acids. The leaves are then laid out flat on the ground to dry. Once dried, they are called tencha.
Tencha can then be made into the stone-ground matcha. Only tea that is first tencha can become matcha. Konacha is the name for other powdered teas that are not made from tencha.
Matcha varies in grades. The highest grades are very sweet and intensely flavored. This is due to the significant amounts of amino acids in the matcha. Less expensive versions may have a somewhat less intense flavor, and some have even called cheap matcha bitter.
Matcha used in a tea ceremony produces a thick drink called koicha. This is an expensive and highly prized portion of the tea ceremony. Generally matcha is mixed at a ratio of six teaspoons (about 30 cubic mm) to six ounces (.17L) of water. A thinner tea called usucha is made with a much lower matcha to water ratio. Even though matcha is considered sweet, koicha still has bitterness and may be served with a small candy to cut the bitter taste.
Matcha is used in numerous other Japanese foods and is particularly welcome as a flavoring in desserts like monaka. Monaka has sweetened bean curd, or in modern treatments, ice cream, sandwiched between two wafer-like cookies. Matcha is also a popular additive to soy or dairy milk, when it is sweetened with sugar.
Since green tea has been shown to have antioxidant properties, matcha has become popular in the US as either a health supplement, or as an additive in smoothies or other foods. It should be stated that any possible benefits of green tea are usually negated when it is taken with calcium found in milk. Calcium tends to neutralize antioxidants. Thus green tea ice cream or a matcha smoothie may be delicious, but may not be as healthful as many suppose.
What does it taste like? Matcha tea is generally strong in taste, some say grassy, some say spinachy. But now since it's popularity is growing, beverage chains are starting to carry Matcha. The popular Minneapolis chain Jamba Juice has a matcha green tea smoothie and matcha green tea shots that you can add to your drinks.
What are the health benefits?
* One glass of matcha tea has 10 times the nutrients that a glass of green tea has
* It is a natural mood enhancer
* It has no sugar and lots of fiber
* It is rich in antioxidents
* It has renown cancer fighting catechins that are only found in green tea
* It is rich in chlorophyll which is a natrual detoxifying agent
The Nutritional Profile for Match Tea:
Nutrient Per 1g Matcha
Total Catechins 105mg
EGCg 61 mg
Total Amino Acids 34 mg
L-theanine 14.26 mg
Vitamin C 1.75mg
Vitamin A 291 units
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