06 Mar Mad about Matcha
The legendary drink of choice for Samurai Warriors and undoubtedly the reason why Buddhist Monks are the most chilled people on the planet, Matcha promises to boost energy levels and enhance mental clarity. But is it really just a well-marketed a storm in a cleverly-packaged teacup? Matcha seemed like a superfood that would inspire you for a changing to be vegan. I decided to put it to the test and was pleasantly surprised by its benefits.
With a full inbox, recipes to test, style and shoot, deadlines aplenty and two extremely energetic dogs to walk, it’s an understatement to say I get by with a little help from my liquid, mostly-caffeinated friends. Yep, my day typically is a series of the above, strung together with strong, almond milk lattes.
The problem with caffeine though, or at least too much of it, is that it can give you that wired, sometimes strung out feeling and it really interrupts sleep. You can quickly enter that nasty cycle of temporarily fixing fatigue with a caffeine shot, which is followed by a big energy crash, more coffee, another restless sleep and a groggy morning mended by more coffee … and so it begins all over again the next day.
When the team from Matcha Dispatcher told me it didn’t have to be that way, I listened. The promise of mental alertness without the anxious jitters, teamed with an overall sense of calm, was really seductive, so I signed up faster than I could say ‘tea please’.
Used in powdered form, Matcha is actually a superior quality form of green tea, said to have 137 times the antioxidant properties of regular green tea. It’s made from shade-cultivated green tea leaves, grown this way to increase chlorophyll levels in the leaves and so boost the benefits of the finished product. Only the finest, darkest leaves are picked, dried and then stone ground into powder to be turned into tea, sprinkled into smoothies or blended into baking.
My choice of consumption was drinking, and I found it easy to make into a tea – I simply added half a teaspoon of Matcha to 750ml of hot water, 50ml of freshly squeezed lemon juice, mixed it well and sipped it over the next hour.
The taste is really pleasant, so it was easy to drink, and it gave me a steady boost of energy for the morning without a sudden jolt. I didn’t miss my coffee at all.
On a typical day, I usually need another caffeine hit around 11am. Not today! I was still OK at lunchtime and even skipped my usual after-lunch latte, instead preferring to reflect on what I’d achieved that morning – a busy to-do list of phone calls, emails and baking had passed by breezily and effortlessly.
I’ll admit that by 3:30 pm my energy levels were waning, and I did reach for English Breakfast Tea as my resuscitation tool, but on the whole, I’ve found Matcha to be just the change I needed in my daily routine.
It’s been a few weeks now and I’m a convert. I’ll admit I still reach for an almond latte every now and then (I still adore the taste of coffee), but I love the newfound clarity and calm I get from drinking Matcha. I’ve also included it in some of my recipes , should you wish to try it, too!
Matcha originally comes from the Camellia Sinensis shrub native to Southern China and was first enjoyed by Chinese Buddhist monks. It’s believed that the original seeds were brought from China to Japan in 1191 A.D. by the Zen Monk ‘Eisai’, who was the first to grind the leaves and drink them in powdered form during meditation.
This gave birth to the Zen tradition of drinking ceremonial Matcha tea for mental alertness, presence and calm. Matcha remains today one of the most popular commodities in Japan, thanks to its incredible health benefits (think immune-building, detox-supporting, skin-enhancing, energy-boosting, mood-improving) and endless culinary possibilities.
You can buy Matcha from health food stores and specialty grocers, or from the awesome guys at Matcha Dispatcher