Welcome to our matcha guide! We discuss what is matcha powder, the health benefits, how to whisk, my personal experience, and a variety of recipes.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a high-quality green tea in which whole green tea leaves are crushed to become a fine-ground powder. Traditionally, it's whisked in a bowl with hot water to become a rich, frothy beverage.
It has a slightly bitter, vegetal flavor and taste. The bright green color comes from the high chlorophyll content in the leaves.
How is Matcha Different?
Matcha is special because it's the only form of green tea in which the entire leaf is consumed (as opposed to brewed tea bags which you steep then throw out the bag).
Antioxidants: Ingesting the entire leaf makes it an antioxidant powerhouse, providing health benefits that are said to far exceed other teas or beverages.
Zenergy and Theanine
Also exclusive to matcha is "zenergy" which is feeling calm yet energized and focused. This comes from the unique combination of caffeine + theanine.
Theanine (which is not present in coffee) is found in very small amounts in most types of tea, except in matcha where it is much higher. This is because matcha green tea plants are deliberately shaded from direct sunlight for 3 weeks before harvest. (Shown in photo below courtesy of Encha.com.)
During this shading, the plant grows more theanine. L-theanine (an amino acid) helps induce a state of wakeful calmness. It works its effect in our body more gradually across a longer span of hours, providing long-lasting energy without the jitters or crash typical from coffee.
Studies also show theanine is effective at reducing stress and promoting relaxation (without sedation) while improving attention/focus.
Long ago in ancient civilizations, tea began as a medicine. Only later did it turn into the casual daytime beverage that we enjoy today.
But modern studies are continually revealing the wide range of health benefits of matcha which may include:
- High in antioxidants
- Increases energy level
- Enhances mood
- Helps support immune system
- May help lower cholesterol
- Helps prevent cancer
- Improves skin tone
- Boosts concentration
Catechins and EGCG
What is also uniquely special is that matcha contains a particular kind of antioxidant called catechins. Of all antioxidants, catechins are said to be the most potent and beneficial.
Matcha is especially high in one specific catechin, called EGCG, which is recognized for its cancer fighting properties. To learn more, please see Encha's Health Benefits page.
Tools You Need
You will need three simple tools to whisk and prepare a bowl of ceremonial green tea:
- Tea/matcha bowl (called a chawan)
- Bamboo whisk (called a chasen)
- Teaspoon or measuring scoop (called a chashaku)
Since you'll whisk vigorously to achieve the beautiful froth, it's best to use a wide and deep enough bowl. (If you don't have a tea bowl, then a soup bowl works great.)
How to Whisk
- Measure 1 teaspoon of matcha powder in a tea bowl. (If you're using a bamboo scoop, it's about two scoops.)
- Heat 5 oz. water (~2/3 cup) just under boiling, around 160°F (71°C). Pour it in the bowl.
- Using a bamboo whisk (holding it vertically from the top), stir a few times to make sure all the clumps are off the bottom and side. Then whisk very briskly back and forth in a straight line for about 20-30 seconds. (Take care not to scrape the bottom of the bowl with the delicate bamboo prongs.)
- Finish by whisking in a slower zig-zag pattern to calm the waves and create delicate "microfoam".
Rinse your whisk, and set it upright on the counter for next time (or on a whisk holder if you have one). For a visual, see the short video tutorial above.
My Personal Experience
Matcha is unlike anything I've experienced. It gives me laser-sharp focus and a long-lasting, happy energy. My mind is much more relaxed - dissolving negative energy and leaving my thoughts clear for positivity and production.
I rarely drink coffee because it doesn't settle well and often causes a crash. So I drink matcha in the morning (always right after breakfast, as to not drink on an empty stomach).
However I don't drink matcha everyday, as it's still fairly strong and caffeinated, and I enjoy loose leaf teas as well. Many times I will also simply use a half teaspoon matcha powder instead of the full teaspoon.
Where to Buy
High-quality: Finding high quality matcha is important to enjoy the full health benefits. Many companies sell inferior powder, some of which is not organic. As a result, the taste and nutrients lack. Some brands will be more bitter than others.
Organic: Always look for organic matcha with a bright, vibrant green color. (I recommend finding a brand that is 100% pure organic matcha powder, because some have added sugar.)
Grades: You will notice matcha green tea powder comes in a few different matcha grades. Most commonly these are ceremonial grade and latte grade. Ceremonial grade is typically the highest quality and is used for pure whisking. Latte grade is a cost-effective way to enjoy it in lattes and smoothies. Sometimes you will also see culinary grade matcha that is used for cooking or baking.
Brands: I've had success with Encha Organic Matcha in the past. Encha's founder, Dr. Li Gong, sourced their matcha directly from the farm in Uji, Japan. (As of mid-2021 Encha went under new management, and I haven't tried their matcha tea since then however.)
Whisking matcha pure is my favorite way to enjoy the benefits. But I also like lattes, smoothies, and Iced Matcha. Some people even cook and bake with it.
Versatile: One of the great things about it is the versatility. You can enjoy it pure, creamy, or sweet. It's all about finding the best way it fits into your own routine. A few of my favorite recipes include: