Say hello to the newest superfood—or, perhaps more accurately, superdrink. Matcha has been brewed and beloved in Japan for thousands of years, but it’s currently making a big splash in US coffee shops and juice bars. (And all over Instagram and Pinterest, with its gorgeous jade color and frothy top.) Matcha’s essentially a variety of powdered green tea leaves…loaded with health benefits.
Satisfying in the morning or after a meal, the tea is known to provide alertness and energy, thanks to an amino acid and some caffeine (without jittery side effects). The same amino acid is also touted for reducing anxiety. Matcha also delivers a concentrated dose of antioxidants that are linked to disease prevention, improved immune function, cholesterol control, and increased metabolism.
If that’s not reason enough to give matcha a try, you should know that it’s delicious too. Matcha tastes quite different from green tea made by steeping tea bags. The fine green powder is whisked into hot water until it dissolves, resulting in a drink that has full, complex flavors—almost savory, like a combination of fresh, mild vegetables and warm toasted almonds, with a hint of sweetness to finish. When made correctly, it's as creamy as the top of an espresso and as enjoyable as sipping a glass of wine or nibbling on dark chocolate.
Brewing a cup at home is simple. Though purists will say you need special tools, including a tea bowl and a measuring ladle, you really only need a bamboo whisk, a fine mesh strainer, and, of course, matcha. The powder can be quite expensive, so try your hand with options in the $20 range. Republic of Tea ($18 for 40 grams), Teavana ($24.95 for 40 grams), and Matchabar ($22 for 30 grams) are great options.
To make one serving:
- Place a fine mesh strainer over a small ceramic bowl.
- Scoop 1 ½ teaspoons matcha powder into the strainer and sift into the bowl.
- Pour 2 ounces of boiling water (or about 1/4 cup) over the powder and let cool for one minute.
- Whisk the mixture in a zigzag motion for about 15 seconds, until it’s bright green and foamy.
- Enjoy the tea straight from the bowl or pour into your favorite tea cup.
After you’ve mastered the basic formula, here are some variations to try:
Iced tea: Brew matcha, pour over ice, then top off with cold water.
Latte: Bring 1 cup of unsweetened milk (almond or soy milk work, too) to a simmer. Sift in 1 teaspoon of matcha powder and whisk to combine. Sweeten with sugar or agave syrup, to taste.
Smoothie: Simply add matcha powder to your favorite green smoothie.
Matcha cocktail: Make a matcha “slurry” by sifting 1 ½ teaspoons matcha into ¼ cup simmering water. Pour the cooled, concentrated mixture into a gin and tonic, and muddle with mint leaves.