Japanese Matcha Tea: Benefits and Preparations

April 18, 2022 5 min read

japanese matcha tea

A key element of the tea ceremony, matcha is known since centuries for its many virtues and its exceptional finesse. Japanese matcha tea is a green tea powder very rich in antioxidants with multiple benefits.

Discover this Japanese treasure and its delicious vegetal taste, how to prepare it and its benefits.

๐ŸŒฑ What is matcha tea?

Camellia Sinensis
Camellia Sinensis tea culture in Japan, with Mount Fuji in the background. ยฉ Craig Hansen/Shutterstock.com


"Matcha" ๆŠน่Œถ literally means "tea powder" in Japanese. This premium tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia Sinensis tea plant. A variety very rich in chlorophyll that gives matcha its characteristic bright green color.

The powder is traditionally obtained by grinding the dried leaves between two stones. Its secret? To soften its taste and increase its antioxidant properties, the shrubs are covered for a while before harvesting. Thus protected from natural light, they will produce polyphenols with multiple benefits. If Japanese matcha tea is a very refined beverage that relaxes the body and mind, matcha powder has also become very popular in our plates. Its bright color and unique taste make it an outstanding natural coloring ingredient.

Originating from China, matcha was invented in the 10th century before being used in the sacred rituals of Chan Buddhism. It only appeared in the archipelago in the 12th century, along with the introduction of Zen. It was Master Eisai, founder of the Rinsai school who popularized this new form of powdered tea in Japan. Indeed, the monk had brought back tea plants from his trip to China. Since then, Japan started to cultivate and produce the fine powdered tea in the archipelago.

Initially used in Zen Buddhist religious rituals, aristocrats and samurai also consumed this tea for pleasure. Around the 15th century, a new art was born in Japan, called Chanoyu or tea ceremony. The Matcha tea became the traditional drink of choice in the art of tea drinking.

tea ceremony
Tea ceremony in Japan.

๐Ÿ˜‹ What does matcha tea taste like?

Considered one of the best green teas in Asia, matcha has a very pronounced herbaceous taste. Both smooth and slightly bitter, it leaves a slightly sweet note in the mouth. This tea is very particular and has a completely unique taste. It is necessary to like its powerful vegetal side. Surprising at first sight, it does not leave anyone indifferent. Moreover, we appreciate it more and more with time.

taste matcha tea

โฑ When to drink matcha tea?

In the morning, this hot drink will wake you up gently in order to start the day in a good mood. You can also drink a cup of tea during your coffee break or before an important meeting. It is perfect to relax and increase your concentration.

Ideal as part of a diet, drinking Japanese matcha tea is perfectly appropriate before a sports or yoga session. According to a study, drinking green tea before sports would significantly increase fat burning. Moreover, this hot drink, rich in catechins, would help muscle recovery.

Despite all its benefits, certain times of the day are not recommended for drinking matcha. The same applies to all teas. Indeed, at mealtime, this infusion can limit the absorption of minerals, such as iron, and cause nutritional deficiencies in the long term. Also, if you are sensitive to theine, drinking tea at bedtime is not a good thing, unless you want to have a sleepless night. Be aware that it is best to consume this stimulating drink no less than six hours before sleep.

๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™‚๏ธ What to do with matcha?

Matcha tea is traditionally used for chanoyu ่Œถใฎๆนฏ (tea ceremony) in Japan. Apart from this ancient Japanese art, it is also drunk all over the world for waking up in the morning, relaxing or just for fun.

Did you know that matcha tea can also be consumed in other forms? Matcha tea is the ideal ingredient to color your recipes while bringing a sweet touch, whether it is for cakes, smoothies or ice creams. Also, its flashy green color is not only reserved for desserts and pastries. This natural flavor can be used to add a delicious touch to savory dishes, sauces and tarts.

matcha tea ice cream

Matcha is also used in cosmetics for its remarkable powers. Rich in antioxidants, matcha tea is a powerful anti-aging agent that promotes cell renewal. As a real skin booster, the matcha tea mask brightens up tired complexions while soothing the skin for rested features.

โ˜• How to prepare matcha tea?

The preparation process is a crucial step to ensure that the Japanese matcha tea subtly delivers its flavors, without too much bitterness.ย Below are some tips on how to do so.

๐Ÿฅข Traditional Japanese preparation

It is such a joy to prepare your tea in the traditional Japanese way. For this, you will need a Japanese bowl (chawan), a bamboo whisk (chasen) and a wooden spoon (chashaku).

  • Boil some mineral water and wait one minute to reach a temperature of 80ยฐC.
  • Soak your chasen in hot water to rinse it and soften the stems.
  • Add the equivalent of half a teaspoon (or two and a half spoons of chashaku) through a sieve into the chawan.
  • Slowly add 60ml of hot water and whisk vigorously with the chasen making an "M" for about ten seconds.
  • To finish, slow down the movement and make a quarter turn with the wooden spoon before removing it, so as not to damage the creamy foam that has been formed.
  • Rinse and dry the whisk and the spoon.
  • Enjoy your Japanese matcha tea.


๐Ÿฅ› Preparing matcha tea without whisk

The chasen allows you to achieve a smooth and frothy drink, while preserving the flavors and properties of the tea, however, if you don't have a chasen whisk on hand, it's not a big deal. Simply take a bottle, then, after adding the matcha powder and the water, shake it vigorously for 20 seconds. Alternatively, for the lazy ones, you have the option of a blender. Finally, a milk frother can also do the trick.

๐Ÿ’™ What are the benefits of matcha tea?ย 

matcha tea benefits

In addition to its delicious taste, Japanese matcha tea is said to have numerous benefits for the body and mind.

๐Ÿต Green tea that's the richest in antioxidants

Antioxidants are small molecules that fight against oxidation and cellular aging. True allies for health, they act against cancers and protect the cardiovascular system. Lastly, matcha is full of chlorophyll and is an excellent drainer for the liver. No better way to enjoy a good rejuvenation or detox.

๐Ÿƒโ€โ™€ An excellent fat burner

Drinking matcha tea promotes the elimination of fat by stimulating the metabolism. This is thanks to the caffeine and catechins found in its leaves. Moreover, it seems that this drink would help regulate blood sugar.

๐Ÿ™‚ A drink that soothes the mind

Did you know that matcha contains L-Theanine, an amino acid that helps to calm stress and relax? Thus, this is the perfect drink to unwind with.

โ€๐Ÿง˜โ€โ™‚ A concentration booster

The theine in matcha is just like caffeine, it stimulates concentration skills and helps you stay awake. However, unlike with coffee, matcha tea releases this molecule gradually without producing hyperactivity. This is why Buddhist monks were particularly fond of this drink during their long hours of meditation.

ย 

Matcha tea has seduced the entire world because of its exquisite taste and its beneficial effects on health. As a key ingredient in detox diets, this bright green powder is one of the secrets to longevity. Don't underestimate the power of Japanese matcha tea.


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