by Liz Duffy, Certified Tea Sommelier
Matcha tea has taken the tea world by storm. Matcha is a very finely powdered green tea ground from leaves from the Camellia Sinensis plant. It’s prepared by whipping the matcha powder with hot water or steamed milk in a bowl. Unlike other teas, with matcha, you’re consuming the leaves themselves, not just steeping them. This means you get even more of the great benefits of drinking tea, in particular, more potent levels of polyphenol antioxidants than in other teas.
Matcha has, in fact, been consumed for thousands of years. In the 12th Century, the Zen monk Eisai brought the Chinese method of preparing powdered tea to Japan. The tea plants are grown in shade, harvested and then the stems and veins are removed. The shading reduces the sunlight on the plants, which increases the chlorophyll content and gives matcha its dazzling green colour. The leaves, known as tencha, are ground into a very fine dark green powder.
Matcha has a vegetal smell, unique taste and a lingering sweetness. It’s said to have the fifth distinctive flavour (beyond sweet, sour, salty and bitter) of umami. Rich and savoury. There are different grades of the powder, but generally the higher the grade, the more intense the sweetness and the deeper the flavour. Drunk either hot or cold, it can be a bit addictive. While it tends to be more expensive than other teas, a little matcha goes a long way.
To prepare matcha tea, place one half a teaspoon of matcha powder into a sieve and sift it into a preheated cup. The sifting breaks up the clumps and makes a creamier tea. Add two ounces of hot water, best if it’s just under a boil. Whisk vigorously using a bamboo whisk until you have a beautiful green froth. Enjoy straight up or as a latte topped with steamed milk or add a bit of honey. If you prefer, you can upgrade your favourite smoothie instead with some matcha powder.
The matcha madness has extended to baking and cooking. Culinary grade matcha can be used in everything from cakes and cookies to truffles and ice cream, noodles and sauces.
Enjoy the moment – and the health benefits – with many varieties Lemon Lily has on offer, including Organic Ceremonial Matcha, chocolate or mint matcha. It’s healthy madness.