Lately you can’t walk into a coffee shop, check your Instagram feed, or shop in a Whole Foods without seeing them: Hipsters. Bearded and bespectacled with handmade crocheted hats and a penchant for plaid. Fascinating people watching aside, they are usually up on their food trends: they drink their Kombucha in an old recycled mason jar, they’ve basically reinvented the Brussel sprout, and of course anything with the word craft or artisanal in front of it is usually a staple. I would be lying to say this Pearl hasn’t leapt (Pearls don’t leap. Rolled?) into most of these trends with careless abandon. Matcha is where I’ve drawn the line.
Coffee is King in the Pearl’s pad and it’s gotta be hot, strong, and in copious amounts. While my love for the nectar of the God’s will never die, it’s time to admit I’ve finally succumbed to Matcha Madness.
Match-Ado about Nothing. My hilarious Shakespearian puns aside, what really is the deal with Matcha? What is it and why are so many people starting their day with it? The first thing to know is Green tea and Matcha are not synonymous. Yes, Matcha is made from the green tea plant, but it grown and processed much differently. Before the harvest process the plants are covered with a cloth, traditionally made of bamboo. This “shade grown” method produces leaves with more flavors and increases the chlorophyll content, giving Matcha its vibrant green color. Once the leaves are steamed, dried, and de-stemmed they are known as “Tencha.” The grinding process produces what is commonly known as Matcha, literally translated as “Ground Tea.”
Not all Matcha is Created Equal. Like most things, Matcha can be purchased in levels of purity. Just as you wouldn’t use a bottle of Chateau Lafite for cooking wine, you may not want to dump a cup of Ceremonial Grade Matcha into your morning smoothie or Matcha Mousse recipe. So how do you know which grade is for you? Ceremonial Grade is the most expensive, and considered the best quality. Its natural sweetness makes it ideal for steeping and drinking on its own, without any added ingredients. Teavana has a selection of ceremonial grade tea. Other than that, your best bet for finding this quality is shopping online. Premium Grade, or Café Grade, is what you are most likely to come across. The quality is good for steeping or using in a latte or other mixed beverage. Republic of Tea is a good source for this grade Matcha. For baking or other recipes, Kitchen Grade Matcha will do just fine. For a really great guide on which grade is best for your needs, check out this guide at Matcha-Tea.Com
Brew-Tea-Ful Benefits. I know, I know, I need a Tea pun intervention. You may be thinking, that’s all well and good but I still don’t know why I’m drinking this stuff. Now that we know what we are drinking, let’s delve into three reasons why:
- The Oprah of Antioxidants. Seriously, Matcha is practically giving them away. Several sources say one cup of Matcha has as many antioxidants as ten cups of green tea! That’s some serious bang for your buck. Why is this so important? Antioxidants help us to fight off diseases and help us to have glowing skin like those girls in the Neutrogena commercials! According to a testing method known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), Matcha is one of the highest rated (higher than blueberries guys!)
- It’s an Awesome Detoxifier. Due to the shade grown process of growing Matcha, exponential amounts of Chlorophyll are produced. What does this mean for us? Chlorophyll has the ability to bind to and flush out harmful toxins and heavy metals in our body (watch out Metallica! Oh wait. Different kind of heavy metal. My bad)
- You’ll experience a boost in Energy and Tranquili-tea! Matcha contains L-Theanine. This amino acid induces a calming effect. However, Matcha also contains quite a bit of caffeine. So you get all the benefits of your morning caffeine buzz without the jittery side effects.
The benefits don’t end there. Matcha is known to boost your metabolism, burn calories, enhance your mood, lower cholesterol, and even boost your memory. In this Pearl’s opinion, the pros are endless! Knowing about a product, however, doesn’t do much good if you don’t know what to do with it. I hear you loud and clear! Stay tuned friends; next week’s follow up blog will explain the proper preparation of and several uses for this savory substance! In the meantime, grab yourself an ironic paperboy hat, head to a local coffee shop, and be at peace amongst the hipsters! You’re one of them now.