In recent times this tea has by far become my favorite tea. The reason for this is the fact that this green, delicious drink contain rich amounts of antioxidants and other healthy nutrients, far more than any other tea. While feeling invigorated, it also gives a great sense of peace.
In Matcha tea, we actually drink the powdered tea leaves. The tea leaves are first ground to a very fine powder, and then a small amount is added to hot water (or other liquids such as milk or milk substitutes). Traditionally a whisk called Chasen is then used to properly dissolve the powdered tea leaves in the water, before being consumed in its entirety.
The tradition of grinding tea leaves and having it directly in the hot water for consumption started in the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) in China. Zen Buddhist monks brought this tradition to Japan in around 1181 A.D., where the process of harvesting the tea leaves and making the stoneground tea leaves was refined, giving birth to what we now called Matcha tea.
Originally this was consumed amongst Buddhist monks, but it soon spread in popularity throughout East-Asia. While Matcha tea contain rich amounts of antioxidants, the sought-after effect of Matcha tea was the invigorating and relaxing effect. Buddhist monks cherished this tea because it enabled them to stay focused in meditations for a longer time.
There are greater amounts of caffeine in this tea. This caffeine called Theophylline is not as strong as what you would find in coffee, but it still will give an invigorating effect. What counterbalances this invigorating effect is what researchers have now discovered to be L-Theanine, an amino-acid that leave you with a relaxed and invigorated state. Since the actual tea leaves are used to make the tea, and not just the brewing of the tea, Matcha has rich amounts of L-Theanine. This can therefore explain why you would feel a great sense of ease, while at the same time mentally alert.
So, how can you make yourself a tasty cup of Matcha tea? In the tea-shop ask for premium or ceremonial grade of Macha tea. Ceremonial grade is of better quality, but also much more expensive. The nutrient contents are the same, and if you are not a Zen monk, who consume this regularly, you probably would not notice the difference. While in the shop you could also ask for a whisk called Chasen in addition to buying the tea. If you do not have this whisk, no problem. The only reason for using a whisk, is that it makes it easier to dissolve the matcha, and giving a more frothy and lighter feel to the tea.
Now, take ¼ – ½ teaspoon of Matcha in a cup, and add a small amount of hot water (not boiling), whisk or whip the mix of Matcha and hot water around until the tea has been dissolved. Add more hot water and whisk this in some more, until you get a frothy consistency in the tea. As an extra tip, I sometimes add turmeric to this tea, to make an even more potent drink…or, why not try out a matcha-turmeric-latte?
Matcha tea can be drunk throughout the day, but probably not late at night, due to the stimulating effect from the caffeine in it. I recommend you try this out. Maybe you can even substitute the cup of coffee in the morning with an invigorating cup of Macha tea?