From a very young age, we have been told that green food is good food. Some of the healthiest foods that we put into our bodies come in green packages. Vegetables such as kale, broccoli and spinach are known nutritional powerhouses. These ‘leafy greens’ are rich in vitamins A and C, and are packed with fibre and antioxidants. Green tea, is no exception.
This nutrient-rich beverage can help lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular health, and is incorporated into many ‘clean’ lifestyles and healthy living regimes. An even more nutritionally dense, antioxidant packed form of tea has been in the spotlight lately, and this is something the TruMarine Team all incorporates in their day-to-day regimen – matcha!
What is Matcha?
Matcha is prepared from high quality green tea leaves called tencha. During the growing process, tencha leaves are protected from direct sunlight for at least 20 days before harvesting. This unique method stimulates the production of amino acids and results in leaves that are a deep shade of green. Harvesting is then done by hand, ensuring that only the finest quality leaves are selected. Finally, the leaves are steamed and ultra-fine milled into a beautiful green powder, which is known as matcha powder.
The best way to get all the nutrients from a tea plant is to consume the entire leaf. Normally, tea leaves are soaked in water and then disposed of. While some nutrients are extracted during the steeping process, others are inevitably discarded with the used leaves. However, when the tencha leaves are ground into matcha powder, all the nutrients are captured. This means that 100% of the tea leaf, and 100% of the nutrients, are available for consumption.
One of the main benefits of matcha is that it is packed with vitamins, such as vitamins A, B-complex, C, K and EGCg. EGCg - epigallocatchin gallate- is also commonly labelled as catechines and is the reason many foods such as blueberries and dark chocolate are considered ‘superfoods’. Green tea leaves have a high concentration of EGCg, which provides potent cancer fighting properties and boosts metabolism.
Matcha is also rich in antioxidants — natural chemical compounds that help prevent aging and chronic disease. Matcha has over 50% more antioxidants than goji berries, pomegranate and blueberries, and drinking 1 cup of matcha provides you with as much antioxidants as drinking 10 cups of brewed green tea!
On top of offering a variety vitamins and antioxidants, and helping to fight illness and disease, matcha can also be used to improve concentration and cognition - providing many of the same benefits as coffee, without the possible side effects of caffeine. Traditionally, matcha was used by monks to maintain calm and focussed during meditation. This calming effect comes from L-Theanine, a rare amino acid found in matcha that promotes relaxation and awareness. Having a cup of matcha encourages a state of clarity and attentiveness while reducing stress, and all without the possible side effects of coffee - how could you go wrong?Try matcha any time you need extra focus, or need a tasty ‘pick-me-up’ during the day - it can be enjoyed in hot drinks, smoothies or food.
Selecting and Preparing Matcha
Matcha is becoming widely available at specialty tea shops, organic food markets and grocery stores.
Matcha and green tea is historically a Japanese tea. Due to increase international consumption it is now being grown in China. Historically China produces semi-fermented and fermented teas.
There are a lot of conflicting reports of Chinese teas being contaminated by pesticides and/or industrial pollutants and even reports of Chinese counterfeit tea using products like Bamboo leaves.
When tencha is stone ground the grains come out in a crescent shape. The non-stone ground is pulverized in a tumbler which the grains come out in a more rounded shape. The instant matcha (the shake-and-go, cold water soluble variety) is a dried concentrate that is often coated or mixed with dextrin.
Be aware when selecting your matcha as there are different grades and quality of powder. Color is very important when determining matcha quality- pick a powder that is a vibrant, bright green.
Traditionally matcha is prepared using a bamboo whisk, known as chasen, and a tea bowl. These matcha preparation utensils can be found at specialty tea shops and most places that carry matcha powder. We recommend using these traditional utensils so you have the tools to make the perfect bowl of matcha.
Here is one our favorite matcha recipes - we hope you try it out!
TRU-LY PERFECT MATCHA TEA
Step 1: Sift 1-2 teaspoons of matcha powder into a tea bowl using a small sifter.
Step 2: Add 3-5 grams (1 stick pack or half a scoop) of withinUs TruMarine™ Collagen into the bowl.
Step 3: Add half a cup of boiled, filtered water at maximum 175 F / 80 C. If it is too hot, the heat will destroy the matcha and it will taste bitter. You can go cooler, if you wish.
Step 4: Whisk in a circular motion until there are no clumps and the matcha is frothy. If you would like to sweeten your matcha tea, we suggest adding honey or coconut nectar to taste.
Step 5: Enjoy your Tru-ly Perfect Matcha!