History Lesson: Matcha 101

If you’ve ever visited a cafe, chances are you’ve seen matcha on the menu.

Young green tea leaves courtesy of Encha Organic Matcha

It seems like some love it while others can’t stand it. To say the least, the antioxidant filled green drink can seem really intimidating.

Before you decide whether it’s right for you, I suggest you learn more about the wonder-tea and it’s origins.

What is it?

Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves that are ground up really finely. The leaves that are used are young, bright green ones that are at the peak level of nutrients and flavor.

Contemporary matcha’s roots come from Japan by way of China. It is said that Myōan Eisa traveled to China in 12th century AD and observed how the Chinese harvested, pressed, and ground their green tea leaves. Ever the curious student, he made another trip to China to become a certified practitioner of the art.

His experience was so powerful that he penned the Kissayōjōki  which roughly translates to “Drinking Tea for Your Health” which helped inform Buddhist monks of a new way of wellbeing. His knowledge, combined with Buddhist principles formed the foundation of Japanese tea ceremonies.

Matcha is holy, it is traditionally prepared in a ceremony with priests and tea masters. Quite the difference from the rushed lattes we get in the West.

In feudal times, samurai would put down their weapons, meditate, pray, and drink matcha before a battle to help with mental clarity and sustained energy. Wild, huh?

What does it do?

Caffeine is responsible for the energy the green powder provides while l-theanine helps your body digest it so the energy is released at a constant rate over time. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty fucking powerful.

Matcha Powder courtesy of Milk Street Store

My Experience

I love matcha. For the past 3 years, I have been using it (along with other green teas) for a sustained energy boost.

I was never a coffee lover but I began to depend on it for a year in college to help me power through long days. Coffee made me break out, crash hard at the end of every day, and act like a cranky crab. To make things worse, I was so sensitive to it I would have gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux, heart burn, and general stomach pain.

Matcha did the opposite. When I made the switch I could feel an immediate difference in my acne, my energy levels, and overall mood. My skin began to clear up. I had a steady source of energy that left me feeling wonderful even when the caffeine left my system. Most of all, I had no more stomach pain!

While most people are used to matcha being used in lattes, you can mix matcha into smoothies, ice creams, pancakes, cakes, porridge. Its earthy flavor is a smooth, rich complement to any dish you may add it to.

Matcha Mochi Cake from Soni’s Food
Matcha Smoothie Bowl from Minimalist Baker

So I encourage you: if you’ve never tried it before, go out and try matcha then come back and tell me what you think!

If you are a #matchaholic like me, what’s your favorite way to enjoy matcha?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

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