Matcha. All the cool kids are doing it. But if you’re not yet on the matcha bandwagon or don’t even know what we’re banging on about, then listen up. You might have just met your matcha.
We chat to the matcha masters themselves, Matcha Maiden, to find out all about this magical superfood that is trending up a storm in 2016.
FIRST UP, WHAT EXACTLY IS MATCHA?
Matcha powder is relatively new to the mainstream market, but it’s actually been around for centuries. It’s traditionally consumed as part of the Japanese tea ceremony ritual and Zen Buddhist monks use it in their meditative practices. It seems fancy now that it’s a bit of a “buzz word”, but it’s actually simpler than you’d expect—it’s just pure green tea leaves stone ground into a fine powder. The difference with regular green tea is that instead of brewing leaves in hot water then throwing them out, with matcha you consume the whole tea leaf so don’t waste any green goodness! On top of that, matcha tea bushes are grown especially under cover which increases the chlorophyll and amino acid levels in the leaves even further.
OKAY, BUT WHAT’S SO GOOD ABOUT THE STUFF?
Because of its concentrated form, matcha is a much more powerful way to drink green tea with heightened levels of all the good stuff because you are drinking the whole leaf! Plus, unlike green tea, it is a powder so you can drink it as a beverage or you can get more creative. Matcha Maiden’s mission has been to revolutionise the way we think about it—it’s so versatile being in powdered form so why not use it as a superfood? It makes sense to go beyond tea and use it in smoothies, chia pudding, desserts, savoury dishes, even face masks! And people have responded really positively to this—everyday we’re blown away by the creations people come up with!
WHAT ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS OF MATCHA?
Matcha can have the nutritional value of up to ten cups of regular green tea and up to 137 times the antioxidants of regular green tea. Isn’t that crazy?! We couldn’t believe matcha hadn’t already taken off years before we came onto the scene. Regular green tea is consumed for its positive effects on metabolism, energy, focus, immunity, clear skin and generally wellbeing, so matcha being more concentrated can have more concentrated results in these areas. It’s basically the ideal superfood!
MATCHA IS KNOWN TO HAVE CATECHINS… BUT WHAT THE WHAT ARE THEY?!
Catechins are basically antioxidants that can help fight and may even prevent cell damage. They are present in very high levels in green tea (and therefore matcha powder), the most potent being known as “EGCG”. I won’t get too sciencey, but basically EGCG has been studied to treat various diseases and may be one of the main reasons why green tea has become known for having such powerful medicinal properties.
SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO JUST DRINK MATCHA, WHAT'S YOUR FAVOURITE RECIPE THAT USES MATCHA?
We enjoy the INCREDIBLY elaborate recipes our amazing matcha family comes up with, but at home we keep it pretty simple. Matcha smoothies are a daily occurrence for us—banana, almond milk, a handful of spinach, teaspoon of matcha and a little bit of honey or coconut nectar goes down a treat!
Where can you get in on the matcha madness?
MATCHA MAIDEN (OBVIOUSLY)
Head to their website to stock up on the stuff. Here you’ll also find recipes, info and where you can buy it IRL.
These guys are all about the matcha drinks. They’ve got matcha tea, a matcha latte and a matchiato. They’ve also been known to whip up a matcha and vanilla layer cake on the odd occasion.
This Kingsland café loves all things healthy so it’s no surprise they love matcha. Their hot drinks menu includes a matcha latte (they also have a beetroot latte and a turmeric latte).
Head into this Herne Bay cafe for matcha waffles (delicious) washed down with a matcha latte (doubly delicious).
Major Sprout are on that matcha buzz. They’ve got a vibrantly-coloured matcha latte on offer as well as matcha granola starring nuts, dates, banana, fruit and coconut. It’s uber health-friendly being gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.
If you want to get your matcha on at home, check out Matcha Matcha. They have three grades of powder to suit your needs: ceremonial (for matcha tea), latte (for—you guessed it—lattes!) and culinary (for smoothies, chia puddings or baking creations). It’s stocked throughout Auckland but they also have an online shop.
Looking for more health-related goodness? Check out 25 Hacks For A Healthy Life.
Image credit: Daniel Maddock