If you’re a modern foodie, chances are you’ve encountered matcha in one of your culinary outings. Matcha refers to powdered green tea, and has been used for centuries in Japan for the traditional tea ceremony, where only the finest green tea leaves were milled to a fine powder. Fast-forward to 21st century America, and matcha is showing up in sweet and savory dishes, bringing that intense green hue and a great bitter flavor.
From noodles to mussels, lattes to mint juleps, a spoonful of matcha not only gives flavor and color to an incredible array of dishes and beverages, it also delivers a boost of energy and all the antioxidant benefits of green tea. This triple-threat ingredient, adding flavor, color and health, is a must-have in your pantry!
The Health Benefits of Matcha
One of the main factors that makes Matcha such a powerful health food is that, rather than regular tea bags that you steep and toss, matcha green tea comes in powdered form. What’s the difference? It means that by using matcha, you are consuming the entire tealeaf, not just a green-tea-flavored water. The health benefits are then much more concentrated. And the benefits of matcha are MANY. For example, according to recent research by Tufts University, matcha has 20 (yes, TWENTY!) times more antioxidants blueberries (and no sugar).
While giving you a caffeine perk-up, there’s an interesting and very important difference between coffee and the caffeine in matcha. Its main component is L-Theanine, an amino acid that promotes a state of “alert relaxation”. Rather than the jitteriness that too many cups of java can cause, L-theanine creates alpha waves, which promotes a state of the mind called “relaxed alertness” – calm, not agitated, but functioning and alert. Beloved by models and celebrities, matcha also brings great detox and metabolism-boosting perks. Without raising blood pressure or heart rate, matcha gets the body’s fat-busting mechanisms going, and naturally (and safely) aids weight loss. Plus, that intense green color? That comes compliments of chlorophyll, which helps the body naturally remove toxins like heavy metals. (source)
Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream
You might not go for a hot cup of tea during the summer heat, but how about some of the wildly popular Green Tea Ice Cream? The perfect dessert to cool you down, energize AND calm you! All you need is a few simple ingredients and an ice-cream maker. Matcha ice cream is deliciously sweet but with a nice bitterness, and the show-stopping intensity of its green color makes it a fun and striking addition to your summer dessert repertoire. Although matcha can be a bit bitter, the sweetness of the sugar, milk and cream all work to balancing it out, dulling it so that the ice cream just has an interesting-yet-mellow edge. Tip: add more or less matcha powder if you want more or less color and flavor.
This recipe is adapted The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovitz.