What is Matcha Tea?

Matcha is basically just green tea — but with benefits. Wellness Mama explained in a March post that the tea’s leaves are shaded from the sun for the last few weeks of growth so that chlorophyll content is increased and green color enhanced. Another distinction is that instead of dried leaf form, it is ground fine. What results is an emerald powder that can be brewed for a tasty hot or cold drink or used in smoothies and baked goods.“At Starbucks, you can find matcha in menu items like the Teavana Green Tea Latte, which can be served hot or iced, and is crafted from sweetened matcha green tea with steamed milk,” points out Megan Adams, spokeswoman for Starbucks. At and other sites there are endless recipes, such as matcha untruffles, matcha butter and matcha chai lattes. Matcha’s origins are in China, but monks took it to Japan in the 1100s. Popularity for powdered green tea waned in China but became a mainstay in Japan. The tea is trendy not only for its taste but primarily for health benefits. Because none of the tea powder is strained out, all is consumed. Thus, matcha reportedly has 60 times the antioxidants of spinach and seven times that of 50-percent-or-greater cacao dark chocolate. It is also supposed to boost metabolism and burn calories, lower cholesterol and blood sugar, and provide fiber and vitamins and minerals, including C and magnesium. Matcha is so trendy, there are even matcha tea bars emerging, such as Matcha Box in Los Angeles. Expect to pay about $1 per gram for quality powder, and make sure the source is Japanese. Starbucks, according to Adams, serves only Japanese, 30-days-shade-grown varieties for a “sweeter, smoother and more delicate flavor.”

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