My favorite way to start each workday is by sipping on a warm cup of matcha green tea. I first learned about this energizing, antioxidant-rich green tea when I worked as a research assistant at the University at Buffalo’s School of Public Health and Health Professions during grad school. My colleagues and professors would sip on their green tea and tout its health benefits. They were so convincing that I swapped my afternoon cup of coffee for green tea too. Then one day at a trendy coffee shop, I noticed a different type of green tea on their menu, matcha, and I had to give it a try. I’ve been hooked ever since!
WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha is a Japanese green tea powder made from finely ground green tea leaves. Known for its delicate, umami flavor and vibrant green color, this tea is a favorite in Japan and worldwide. While matcha was traditionally reserved for the Japanese tea ceremony, it’s an everyday drink today, thanks to its health benefits.
MATCHA GREEN TEA BENEFITS
Matcha is jam-packed with health-promoting compounds, including chlorophyll and catechins, a class of plant compounds with potent antioxidant properties. Catechins, specifically epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), inhibit cellular oxidation, prevent free radical damage to cells, and are considered the most effective cancer-fighting polyphenol in green tea (1, 2).
Unlike loose-leaf tea, matcha contains the nutrients from the entire tea leaf, resulting in greater antioxidants than regular green tea. In fact, one study showed the concentration of EGCG available from drinking matcha to be 137 times greater than China Green Tips green tea and at least three times higher than the largest literature value for other green teas (3).
Frequently referred to as mood and brain food, matcha is also rich in L-Theanine, an amino acid that improves mood, focus, and concentration (4). Matcha has also been shown to improve attention, reaction time, and memory (5, 6).
My personal fascination with matcha is how it makes me feel. There’s a level of calm, focused energy from drinking matcha that I don’t get from coffee. I also don’t get heartburn as I used to when I drank two cups of coffee every day. These are major benefits in my book!
WHERE TO BUY MATCHA GREEN TEA
Buying matcha for the first time can be a daunting task – there are so many brands to choose from, and they vary widely in quality. The first and most important thing to know is that matcha is customarily divided into two grades: ceremonial and culinary. The separation comes down to harvest times, impacting each grade’s color, flavor, and uses. Ceremonial matcha has a bright and vibrant green color, fresh and slightly sweet flavor, and is most suitable for drinking in teas and lattes. On the other hand, culinary grade matcha has a less vibrant green color, bitter and robust flavor, and is typically used to cook and bake.
To make the best tasting matcha green teas or lattes, look for an authentic (Japanese origin), organic, high-quality ceremonial matcha with no added sugar. My favorite brands are Pique and DōMatcha, which you can get on Amazon or their websites. Pique screens all of its teas for heavy metals, pesticides, and toxic mold. DōMatcha is also clean, additive-free, and tested by an independent lab for residual chemicals from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, and radiation. I switch back and forth between Pique's Sun Goddess Matcha and DōMatcha's Ceremonial Organic Matcha and Summer Harvest Organic Matcha. DōMatcha's Summer Harvest is higher in catechins and has an earthier flavor than their Ceremonial Organic Matcha, which has a sweet, clean flavor. Experiment and see what you like best!
HOW TO MAKE MATCHA GREEN TEA
Traditionally, matcha green tea is made using a sieve, bamboo whisk, hot water, and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon matcha. You can also add your favorite milk and adjust quantities for thick or thin matcha as you prefer.
- Sift matcha: Sift 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of matcha green tea powder in a large mug or drinking bowl. The amount varies depending on how thin or thick you like your matcha (1 teaspoon is a great place to start).
- Add hot water: Add a small amount of hot water (2-3 fl oz). The ideal water temperature for matcha is 80°C or 176°F (below boiling).
- Whisk: Whisk in a light, zig-zag motion until a layer of green froth appears.
- Add more hot water or milk: Add more hot water to make a tea or warm milk (3 to 5 fl oz) to make a latte.
- Sweeten it to taste using organic liquid stevia or raw local honey if desired.
- Supercharge it: Give your matcha green tea latte a boost by adding 1 teaspoon maca powder and/or 1/2 teaspoon ashwagandha powder. Maca and ashwagandha are powerful adaptogens, helping your body better adapt to stress and fatigue (15).
Don’t have a bamboo whisk? Don’t stress! Add your chosen ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds until frothy and smooth. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!
OTHER HELPFUL TIPS
If you see matcha on the menu at your favorite coffee shop, ask if it’s premixed with sugar before ordering it. I was shocked when I found out how much sugar was in Starbucks’ matcha green tea. A 16 fl oz grande contains 32 g of sugar, while a 20 fl oz venti contains 43 g of sugar (16). That’s more sugar than a Snickers bar! Avoid the potential sugar crash and save money by making your own matcha green tea lattes at home.
MY GO-TO DAIRY-FREE MATCHA GREEN TEA LATTE RECIPE
- Bamboo whisk
- Large teacup or drinking bowl
- 1 teaspoon matcha green tea
- 2 ounces hot water
- 6 ounces warm unsweetened almond milk (or nut milk of choice)
- organic liquid stevia or raw honey, to taste
- Sift matcha in a large teacup or matcha bowl.
- Add a small amount of hot water (2-3 fl oz). The ideal water temperature for matcha is 80°C or 176°F (below boiling).
- Whisk the matcha and water in a light, zig-zag motion until a layer of green froth appears.
- Add warm milk.
- Sweeten it to taste if desired. Stir and enjoy!
Use organic ingredients when possible.
- Coconut milk, cashew milk, or milk of choice for almond milk
- Raw local honey for organic liquid stevia
Don’t have a bamboo whisk? Don’t stress! Use an electric frother or add the ingredients to a blender and blend on high for 15 seconds until frothy and smooth. Pour into your favorite mug and enjoy!
Have you ever tried matcha? If so, what’s your favorite way to make it? Do you supercharge it with any other ingredients? I’m always looking for new ways to pump up my matcha, so please share. I’d love to hear from you!