How Matcha Got a Scene in Japanese Culture
Japan is famous for its special kind of green tea called matcha. With its high antioxidant property, it has been known as a “superfood” in recent years. It is made by taking young tea leaves of Camellia sinensis plant and grinds them into powder. Different from other teas, it is prepared by pouring hot water over the powder and froths it with a special bamboo whisk. It has a full-bodied, creamy vegetal taste with a sweet, bitter, and astringent note depending on the tea grade.
When drinking matcha, you are consuming the whole tea leaf. Thus you will receive the full nutritional benefits of the tea leaf and enjoy a higher concentration of antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins, minerals, and fibers.
A Short History of Matcha
Matcha has been discovered by Chinese Zen monks since before the 8th century. Preparation and consumption of this tea play an important role in the lives of early Zen Buddhists. This provided energy for monks to meditate for hours and keep them calm and focused.
A Japanese Buddhist monk, Myouan Eisai, returned to Japan from China in 1191 bringing the teachings of Zen Buddhism and tea seeds. He gave the tea seeds to Myoue Shounin, a monk in Kousanji Temple, Kyoto. Myoue planted the seeds near the temple, beginning tea cultivation in the now famous Uji Region. Zen Buddhism and matcha then became an integral and complementary part of Japanese culture and history.
Matcha grew its popularity in Japan and spread globally. At first, this is enjoyed only by the zen monks then spread to the general public in the form of sado or tea ceremony. At present, matcha is already accessible to everyone and you can enjoy it daily in the comfort of your home.
How is the Matcha Powder Made?
About 6 weeks before harvest, leaves were put into a shade to increase the chlorophyll content that gives the bright green color. After harvest, tea leaves are quickly steamed, dried and put into heated ovens for 20 minutes. Twigs, stems are removed and leaves are grind into powder.
The shading process is important and affects the quality of the matcha. Shade treatment before harvesting is known to increase the amino acid and caffeine content while decreasing the catechin content.
How to Prepare Your Matcha Drink Like A PRO
- Clean the tea bowl, tea scoop, and bamboo whisk.
- Add 3 scoops of matcha powder in the bowl.
- Pour a small amount of hot water.
- Stir the mixture rapidly with the bamboo whisk to create a bright green paste.
- Add more hot water and whisk the mix to produce a frothy, thick, rich tea.
- Serve it with your favorite sweets.
Health Benefits of Matcha
Matcha green tea has been proclaimed as a “superfood”. As it contains the entire leaf, drinking a cup of matcha is equivalent to 10 cups of normal green tea to get the same nutritional benefits. Here are some of the health benefits you will get in each cup:
- A megadose of antioxidants. One key antioxidant is the catechin called EGCg (epigallocatechin gallate). It has potent cancer-fighting properties, prevents cardiovascular diseases, reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure and helps in weight management.
- It contains an L-theanine amino acid. It gives you focus, mental clarity, and calmness both in mind and body. It also reduces stress and anxiety.
- Slow-release caffeine. Caffeine binds to larger catechin molecules and releases to the bloodstream slowly over time. As a result, it provides the desired alertness and sustained energy for up to 6 to 8 hours. This synergy within matcha also prevents insulin and adrenaline spikes typical for a coffee drink so you never have to experience a sugar crash that follows when your blood sugar drops. Matcha has about a third the amount of caffeine compared to a regular cup of black coffee. The potential negative effect of caffeine is offset by the relaxing and calming effect of L-theanine. It is a good alternative to coffee without giving you the jitters.
- High levels of chlorophyll. It is a powerful detoxifier and helps to eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body.
- Better dental health. Matcha is rich with catechins that help to reduce gum inflammation and has a strong anti-bacterial property that inhibits bacteria that causes cavities.
Now that you know how matcha integrates with Japanese culture and the health benefits you will get in each drink, can you still afford not to give this powerful tea a try? Remember to buy only from trusted sources.