Everything You Need to Know About Matcha
- Written By:Jessie Quinn
We’d be lying if we said we didn’t love a superfood trend. But, some of those buzz-worthy ingredients that we see all over our social feeds — hello, turmeric — have enough power to become a mainstay in our routines. Case in point: Matcha. Thanks to its health benefits and photogenic lattes, matcha has become a staple in many Western morning routines in the last few years. While many often associate its potent frothy green appeal with wellness influencers and celebrity nutritionists, the powdery green tea has been actually around for centuries. “The origin of matcha traces back to the Tang Dynasty in China,” says Jennifer Maeng, a clinical and culinary registered dietician and founder of Chelsea Nutrition.
With its rich history and incredible health benefits, matcha is so much more than a morning pick-me-up. Up ahead, we dive into the benefits of matcha — including what makes it a great coffee alternative — and how to make your own cafe-worthy matcha latte at home.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha is an ancient green tea known in the Western world for its health benefits and potent green hue. In recent years, the superfood continues to grow in popularity as more and more people catch wind of how drinking a cup of frothy green tea can impact their health.
Unlike other types of green tea — which call for steeping the dried tea leaves — matcha is made up of finely ground tea leaves that are mixed directly into hot water for consumption. One thing that makes matcha so special is that the plants are grown in the shade, which results in a high production of L-theanine, which is “an amino acid [that] promotes relaxation and counteracts stress signals,” says Maeng. L-theanine can also “increase glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals in the body,” she adds.
The Benefits of Matcha
In the world of wellness, we are no stranger to experts and influencers alike claiming powdered concoctions as superfoods — but matcha is the real deal. “Matcha is a powerful source of antioxidants called polyphenols, which protects our bodies from oxidative stress, such as cancer, heart disease, and inflammation,” Maeng confirms. Because it’s a green tea, it also comes with the benefits of green tea, too. “Green tea is high in EGCG (catechins), another powerful antioxidant,” says Maeng, adding that EGCG has been “linked to reducing formation of free radicals and molecular damage.”
Another great benefit of matcha is that it’s an excellent coffee alternative. It can still caffenate the body but one cup of matcha has around 70 mg of caffeine while one cup of coffee has around 95 mg of caffeine. And, in addition to having less caffeine, matcha doesn’t give you that jolt that coffee can trigger. Instead, it’s more of a slow release. “People are becoming aware of the negative effects of too much caffeine and making efforts to minimize caffeine consumption,” says Maeng, adding that drinking a lot of caffeine can “interfere with sleep and aggravate anxiety and stress levels.” If you need a little kick to get you going in the morning, a cup of matcha can be an excellent way to do so.
How to Make a Matcha Latte at Home
With its increased popularity, more and more cafes offer the trendy matcha latte. But, you don’t need to be a barista to make one that is equally delicious yourself. Here’s how to make a matcha latte at home.
- 1 TSP matcha powder
- ½ Cup steamed coconut, oat milk, or almond milk creamer
- Hot water
- Honey to taste
Step one: Add 1 teaspoon of matcha powder to a bowl with a splash of hot water. Using either a bamboo matcha whisk or a handheld milk frother, whisk together the powdered tea and hot water until it is blended evenly.
Step two: Pour the matcha and water mixture into a mug and steam ½ cup of dairy free creamer, adding honey as needed to sweeten it up. Note: The sweetener is optional — feel free to add as much or as little as you prefer.
Step three: Add the steamed creamer to the mug and top it off with more hot water.
Making a matcha latte at home is super easy and takes virtually no time since you don’t need to steep the tea. Additionally, you can dress it up in a lot of fun ways by adding a dash of cinnamon to the mixture, or even a couple of drops of peppermint flavoring for a minty matcha latte.