Why Everyone's So Obsessed with Matcha Right Now
You might have noticed people at your coffee shop trading in their traditional skim lattes for a mysterious bright-green drink. Nope, it’s not a new lime macchiato invented by Starbucks. It’s matcha, a versatile Japanese green tea with serious health benefits.
What is Matcha Anyway?
Matcha is different from traditional green tea, both in its growth and preparation. The tea leaves are protected from direct sunlight for about 20 days before they are harvested, to increase the production of chlorophyll. They’re then stone ground into a fine powder, which can be slowly whisked into hot water to create a Japanese green tea.
What are the Health Benefits
Because matcha is grown in partial darkness, the leaves are higher in chlorophyll than traditional tea leaves are. (Chlorophyll is a green pigment that has been recommended by dermatologists and touted by celebrities as a natural way to get brighter, clearer skin.) The bright green powder is also high in L-theanine, an amino acid that has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety. Because of its concentrated preparation, it's also high in antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Chromatography found that matcha is especially high in epigallocatechin gallate, an antioxidant that has been shown to fight cancer and heart disease.
How to Drink It
In Japan, matcha tea is traditionally mixed with water—but it’s been popping up in iced lattes, hot chocolate and even cocktails. Whether you want to keep it simple or get experimental, it's easy to use this healthy ingredient in drinks made at home.
How to Eat It
This green powder has a subtle flavor that complements both sweet and savory foods. From smoothies to waffles to pasta, it adds an earthy taste and vibrant color.
Packed with antioxidants that help reduce free radicals, it's no wonder that the green stuff has become quite a popular ingredient in holistic skin-care products. Here are a few of our favorites.
Where to Buy It
Quality matcha green tea powder is available online and at grocery stores. You can also buy supplements in capsule form at drugstores and vitamin shops; they have the same benefits as a cup of tea. Look for the ceremonial-grade organic kind, which is the highest quality and will provide the greatest nutritional benefits.
Before You Try It...
Consult a doctor before using matcha to treat a medical condition or ailment. Although a cup or two a day is generally safe for pregnant women, talk to your doctor to make sure it’s OK in your specific case.