Matcha has been around for a solid two years now. When it first started being a “thing” amongst the health and wellness communities around the world, everyone thought it was a superfad more than a superfood. You know the kind of thing that gets a lot of hype, lives its best life for about six months to a year for then, to disappear into the abyss of forgotten food trends.
However, this emerald powder somehow managed to survive the test of time and is now one of our favourite things to consume. We put it in hot and cold drinks. We cook with it and we even put it on our skin. Which can only mean that it lives up to the health promises that it makes, and we love it.
There are now so many different varieties, types and definitions of what great quality Matcha is and isn’t, that it can be very difficult to choose one that is just right for you. This confused us a great deal as well which is why we spent some time finding out everything about Matcha and choosing the one we loved the most (for all the right reasons). If you are curious about its origins, the various grades it comes as health benefits and wider spiritual benefits you will want to read on.
What is the difference between Matcha and Green tea?
There is some confusion around Matcha being seen as Green Tea and vice versa but they are two completely different things. Green tea is normally made in China on a very large scale and of poor quality tea ground into a powder. Often times it contains fillers such as Maltodextrin. Which takes away the earthy taste of green tea and essentially makes it sweeter but much much less authentic and fit for purpose.
What is Matcha and where does it come from?
Matcha has its origins in Japanese culture and has been used for over 800 years. Monks use high-grade Matcha in their tea ceremonies to help them get into an alpha waves state. This state is said to allow the material and the spiritual worlds to come together in an uplifting experience.
Today, the best Matcha comes from Japan and is produced by blending carefully selected varieties of green tea leaves.
How is it produced?
The journey of the green tea leaf is a very complex one with specific steps that must be followed in order to make great quality Matcha.
Step 1 – Picking the leaves
The leaves are normally picked around the middle of May. About 15-20 days before, the green tea growers will cover the plant, forcing it to grow in low light. That stops the Theanine from breaking down, which usually happens in natural light, and forces the plant to produce higher levels of Chlorophyll. The latter is what gives the ceremonial grade Matcha the intense green colour and velvety texture.
Step 2 – Processing the leaves
Once they are picked, they get steamed for 15-20 seconds to stop the oxidation process and lock in all the nutrients. Then they are dried and the stems and veins removed from each individual leaf by hand. A further drying time is necessary, which will then take the leaf to be blended by the Tea Master and put straight into the grinder.
The grinder used is the same manual stone one they have been using for the best part of 800 years. By using this method, the temperature is kept at a minimum so the nutrients do not get “cooked out”. This process is very time and labour intensive with 30g of pure Matcha powder taking around an hour to be produced.
What makes the different grades of Matcha?
The grades of Matcha are 100% determined by how much time and care has gone into the production of the powder. The more shortcuts are taken and the less attention to detail paid the lower the grade. For example, if the plant is not shaded properly and the veins are not removed you will have a much coarser powder that is not going to have that deep earthy green colour. Instead, it will be more of a yellowy green looking shade.
Of course, skipping some of these steps makes the process quicker and the final product cheaper but it totally compromises the quality and the full ceremonial Matcha experience.
The two other grades that you can get it in, are Premium, also known as standard, which can be used for lattes, smoothies and dusting chocolates. Lastly, you have Cooking Grade Matcha, which is mostly used in baking and cooking in general.
How do I choose?
A good rule of thumb that works well when choosing Matcha is to look at the country of origin, make sure that it is an organic certified product and look at the price tag. Matcha is not a cheap product because there is a lot of effort going into creating this magical powder and you generally do not need a lot because it is very potent so a little goes a long way.
An additional detail to look out for is the packaging. Matcha is extremely reactive in sunlight which means that it can age quite quickly and lose a lot of its potency if it is not stored correctly. All you need is an opaque and air-tight container and if possible a spot in your fridge. The powder is best consumed within one year of being harvested so make sure you check the use by dates on the pack as well.
Is it good for me?
For the full Matcha experience, the ones that we go back to time and time again because of its high quality, overall taste and the positive impact they have in the world are Organic Matcha Green Tea by OMG Tea. This powerful plant is very high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and Theanine. Theanine is an amino acid that helps bridge the connection between your blood and your brain, significantly reduces stress and improves your cognitive abilities which in turn makes you more receptive to the world around you.
The Organic Matcha Green Tea by OMG Tea donate a portion of their profits to the Healthy Life Foundation who lead amazing research into ageing (read the interview with the founder of OMG Tea here).
How do you make a perfect Matcha?
We show you a very simple tecnique in our video: you can get everything you’ll need here.
There is no doubt that this simple but powerful powder is helping us improve our health within our own physical bodies, connects us to the natural flow and at the same time increases our quality of life. One little spoon at a time. We would love to know how you like your Matcha and what health benefits you’ve experienced so come and talk to us over on Instagram!