Making Much Out Of Matcha

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With its bright, vibrant green color, matcha almost looks other-worldly – and its meditative and stress-busting effects may feel just as magical. If you’ve never tasted this special tea before, you’re in for a real treat.

Not a big tea drinker? No worries. Matcha has drawn the attention of both home cooks and Michelin-starred chefs, and there is already quite the treasure trove of matcha-based recipes available online and in various cafes and restaurants – it’s even made an appearance on the menus of Starbucks and McDonald’s. While it has a distinctive, earthy taste, when done right, matcha can be an incredibly versatile ingredient, lending a unique, healthy twist to any meal, snack, or beverage.

Matcha For Michelin Chefs and Home Cooks

All around the globe, chefs and culinary whizzes have been experimenting with matcha in their dishes. Yoshihiro Murata, the king of Kaiseki (a Japanese haute cuisine), is a seven Michelin star chef who cites a matcha parfait he had in Kyoto as one of his favorite things to eat because of its superior quality and earthiness.1

Australian chef and restaurateur Scott Hallsworth, once head chef of world-renowned restaurant Nobu, infuses his barbecued lamb chops with matcha using a careful tea-smoking technique on the meat.2 But you don’t need to depend on a fancy Michelin chef to get your matcha on: There are plenty of ways to add the ingredient to your own culinary creations.

With its roots in Zen Buddhist philosophy, matcha was originally designed to be drunk in a relaxed ritual called Chanoyu. Today, it can be used pretty much any way you could imagine. Matcha can add a bright, green color to playful creations, or be used to bring a hint of earthiness to a latte or plain vanilla ice cream, leaving a lingering, satisfying taste on the palate. But it’s not just about the color or the taste – the best part about matcha? It’s very much a “superfood.”

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Matcha The Great

Much like its sibling green tea, matcha is rich in antioxidants and amino acid L-theanine. Matcha also gives you a bit of a caffeine kick, but without the accompanying crash because of the time it takes to be absorbed by the body. Plus, its abundance of amino acid L-theanine counteracts with the caffeine to take the “edge” off a bit, giving you a nice balance of feeling both alert and relaxed.3

Research has also proven its ability to help combat diabetes, aid weight loss, and alleviate symptoms of cardiovascular disease due to the presence of catechins which can help balance the metabolism.4

This antioxidant-rich superfood also includes chlorophyll and fiber, making it an even more well-rounded ingredient. By some accounts, a single glass can give you as much antioxidant and nutritional benefit as 10 similar glasses of green tea.5 And unlike most teas in which the leaves need to be steeped and then discarded, with matcha you consume an entire leaf in powdered form, mixed into tea.

Culinary Matcha Vs. Ceremonial Matcha

Matcha doesn’t just come in one variant, and there are grades to choose from. So how do you know which one to pick? And is one better than the other? Culinary grade matcha is perfect to use in recipes, whether you’re sprinkling some on a smoothie, whipping up a special matcha-infused latte, or maybe even using it to smoke a meat. This kind of matcha is designed to be used as an ingredient, but it’s not ideal for drinking as a tea. The ceremonial grade matcha is the very finest matcha and is what you’ll want for a meditative, Japanese-style matcha tea ceremony. Blend it into water with a special bamboo whisk to form a silky foam.

Matcha-Based Recipes To Try

Bringing an umami richness to just about any meal, matcha is a surprisingly accessible ingredient once you’ve experimented with it a few times. The tea goes especially well with certain ingredients like chocolate or in iced desserts like parfaits and ice cream, because the almost bitter undertones balance nicely with the sweetness. For those craving something more savory, you can use matcha in most recipes that call for regular black tea or any scented teas. You can also infuse matcha in sauces or broths, and smoke meats with it, too.

Here are some more recipe ideas to get you started.

Matcha Beverages: Cheers!

Sweet Nothings: Matcha-Scented Desserts and Treats

Superfood Start: Matcha Breakfasts

Explore even more matcha tea recipes at Jade Leaf Matcha Recipes.

References   [ + ]

1. Michelin Star Chef Yoshihiro Murata on His Favourite Japanese Eats in Japan and UK. Silver Kris. Singapore Airlines.
2. Tea-smoked barbecued lamb chops with spicy Korean miso, Great British Chefs.
3. Giesbrecht, Timo, J. A. Rycroft, M. J. Rowson, and E. A. De Bruin. “The combination of L-theanine and caffeine improves cognitive performance and increases subjective alertness.” Nutritional neuroscience 13, no. 6 (2010): 283-290.
4. Yang, Chung S., and Jungil Hong. “Prevention of chronic diseases by tea: possible mechanisms and human relevance.” Annual review of nutrition 33 (2013): 161-181.
5. Health Benefits of Matcha Tea, Jade Leaf Matcha.