Matcha lattes. Perhaps the most hipster drink you you can think of besides kombucha.
But despite its rise in popularity the last few years, matcha has been around for a looong time. In fact, matcha dates back nearly a thousand years to a time when dynasties ruled China and Shogun clans ruled Japan.
What even is matcha?
Matcha is a fine powder of ground whole green tea leaves. Unique from other teas, it is the only tea where the entire leaf is consumed. Only the strongest growing green tea leaves are selected for matcha production. They are shade grown for the last three weeks before harvesting, and then the stems are removed before the leaves are ground into a fine powder.
Matcha is traditionally prepared by whisking a scoop of powder with hot water. It's very smooth and has a grassy yet sweet flavor. It may not be for everyone, but when prepared correctly, it's honestly delicious. I never liked matcha lattes until I had a one that was made properly!
What are the health benefits?
Besides it looking cool and tasting good, it's actually really good for you. This whole matcha trend actually started because of the amount of health benefits it has.
First and foremost, it's packed with antioxidants. In fact, it has exponentially more antioxidants than other "superfoods" out there such as berries. One cup of matcha tea has has many antioxidants as 10 cups of brewed green tea. With regular green tea, the hot water only extracts a fraction of the antioxidants. Because you get the actual ground tea leaves in matcha, the amount is much higher.
Why are these antioxidants so important? Well, antioxidants are the body’s defense agents. They are chemical compounds that prevent against chronic diseases, viral infections, and even aging by combating free radicals in the body. Read more about free radicals here. Simply put, the more antioxidants you have, the better equipped your body is to fight against infections and disease.
Matcha is also a powerhouse of amino acids, particularly L-theanine, a rare amino acid that promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by supporting brain function. It creates alpha waves in the brain, which lead to a state of relaxed alertness. Because of this, matcha actually came to Japan as an aid to meditation practice. During long hours of sitting, monks would drink matcha to remain alert and concentrated yet calm. The L-theanine in matcha can also help with memory and learning.
While L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha may contain up to five times more of this amino acid than common black and green teas.
Even though matcha has caffeine, drinking a cup of it will not make you feel jittery like having a cup of coffee may. The L-theanine inhibits any possible side-effects from caffeine. So, a cup of matcha will promote concentration and clarity of mind without any nervous energy. I love drinking it in the afternoon because it gives me that extra pick-me-up and helps me focus! I don't know about you, but my brain slows down around 3 PM.
What do you need to make it?
1 teaspoon matcha (1 bamboo scoops-worth)
1 tablespoon hot water
1.5 cups (350 ml) soy milk or oat milk (I find that these milks are the creamiest, yet the lightest)
1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave nectar
Add the matcha powder to a mug with the hot water and sweetener of choice.
Use the bamboo whisk to evenly mix everything together, until the matcha and sweetener are dissolved. if you don't have a bamboo whisk, you can throw all the ingredients into a blender. The bamboo whisk is preferred though, since it's more gentle on the matcha.
Heat the milk on the stove until it simmers. Optional: use a frother to froth the milk once it's heated. Or, you can steam the milk via a frothing pitcher if you're fancy and have an espresso machine.
Pour the milk into the mug. Taste your matcha latte and see if it can use any extra sweetener.
This latte can be made iced. Instead of using hot water to whisk together the matcha, use room temperature water. And instead of heating the milk, pour chilled milk directly into the glass or mug. Add ice and enjoy! You can also blend all of the ingredients together if you want it more frothy, and then add ice.
If you're interested in these eco-friendly bamboo storage jars, head over to www.bambooabode.com and use code FORKPRINT for 10% off you're order. They're perfect for storing loose leaf teas and matcha powder. They also have a bunch of other unique bamboo kitchen goodies like reusable bamboo straws and reusable bamboo cutlery!