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8 Things To Know About Matcha

8 Things To Know About Matcha

Matcha is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment. India Bellamy of Storm & India talks to MiNDFOOD about this unique green tea and the many health benefits it carries.

8 Things To Know About Matcha

Firstly, what’s the difference between matcha and green tea?

Matcha is a superior grade of green tea that is harvested from the same tea plant as regular green tea, Camellia Sinesis. With regular green tea you’re creating an infusion by steeping and then discarding the tea leaves. While this provides large amounts of antioxidants and health benefits, you’re not ingesting the leaves’ full nutrient value. Matcha, on the other hand, is a finely stone-milled powder, which means you’re actually digesting the whole leaf. This provides more antioxidants and higher nutritional benefits than regular green tea, depending on the quality of the matcha you purchase.

When it comes to harvesting matcha, only the baby leaves are picked after four weeks of being completely shaded. This tricks them into thinking that they’re dying – making the plants work harder to survive – and producing enormous amounts of antioxidants, chlorophyll and L-thenanine.

Matcha is often touted as the healthiest tea in the world. What are some health benefits?

I like to think of matcha as a supplement. Matcha is one of the densest sources of antioxidants on the planet. Antioxidants are widely known for fighting off free radicals – the molecules responsible for accelerated ageing especially of the skin – inflammation, high cholesterol, tissue and sun damage, along with elevated blood sugar levels. Matcha is also known for its ability to accelerate metabolic function, burn calories and control blood sugar levels by curbing sugar cravings.

So how does matcha promote wellness?

These days most people rely heavily on the caffeine of coffee and energy drinks to get them through their day and while they may get an energy boost, it generally comes with a sudden energy crash and drop of serotonin, which leaves you feeling sluggish after having the jitters. For me, having suffered from anxiety for years, whenever I eat or drink something I like to think, “Is this going to make me feel good and benefit my physical and mental health?” I like to think I eat for my mental health. New studies are showing serotonin is made in your gut and the more you listen to your body the more you begin to rule out foods that aren’t complimenting your needs. For me I’m sensitive to sugar, caffeine and processed foods.

One of the most appealing things about matcha is that the caffeine is bonded to larger plant molecules that take longer to breakdown in the blood, which gives you a longer more stable release of energy. This, in conjunction with the amino acid called L-Theanine, which works on calming the nervous system, provide a sense of calm and togetherness, giving you the energy and concentration boost while maintaining a feeling of calm without any signs of drowsiness.

How much matcha should a person be consuming daily to reap the benefits?

Ideally, one to two teaspoons per day can give you the boost and calming effects, along with the added health-giving benefits of the antioxidant properties. If you are sensitive to caffeine, it is best to have your matcha earlier in the day, before 2pm for example. The great thing about matcha is you can have it in so many forms – as a traditional tea, latte or added to smoothies and baking such as pancakes.

Can you tell us about the history of matcha and the importance of traditional rituals?

Matcha originated in China but soon become popular in Japan with the Japanese monks drinking matcha during meditation to help with concentration, mood and energy levels. Monks also introduced matcha to samurai warriors as a pre-battle drink for increased energy and endurance.

Harmony, Respect, Purity and Tranquillity are the key aspects of a Japanese tea ceremony. It is a traditional and spiritual experience that I think we can all incorporate into our daily lives. The Japanese believe every matcha experience is unique and should be appreciated. I really try and incorporate this into my day. For me, preparing and then consuming matcha is a ritual, it’s important for me to take a moment, be present and to show gratitude. For anyone starting to drink matcha I would really put importance on taking time for yourself, practising affirmations and gratitude – it can really become a magical experience to really be in the moment.

When drinking matcha, the equipment you use is important – from the traditional bamboo whisk to the matcha bowl (rather than a teacup). It is traditional to whisk the matcha in an “m” motion to incorporate the powder into the water or milk until it is foamy and bright green. It is also said that achieving small bubbles is better.

Storm & India matcha is certified organic. Why is this important?

Our matcha is grown on certified organic tea gardens on the mountainside of beautiful Uji, Kyoto and in Kagoshima. Organic products are ethical, socially responsible and environmentally friendly. When you buy certified organic you are supporting organic farmers and producers and the organic industry as a whole. If a product is certified organic it has followed strict regulations of organic standards throughout the entire supply chain. That means production is free from synthetic pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics. Our matcha is certified by BioGro New Zealand and Jona (Japan Organic & Natural Foods Association) JAS Japan. All our matcha is vegan also.

Why do you think there has been a surge in interest in matcha over the last couple of years?

People are definitely becoming more health conscious. For me, I have noticed people are wanting to know where their food is coming from, who they’re buying from and if these nutrient-rich foods can be added to their diet sustainably, rather than going for the quick fixes.

What are some ways people can add matcha to their diet?

I love how diverse matcha is. It’s not just a delicious tea. You can add it to anything from smoothies and milkshakes, to tea and warming lattes, cocktails, tea-infused desserts, overnight oats, pancakes and my particular favourite, chia seed pudding! The great thing about matcha is that it’s so delicious and it’s really easy to introduce to your diet.

What is your favourite way to consume matcha? 

Every morning I like to start my day with a green smoothie, with a half-teaspoon of matcha.  Smoothies are a great way to ensure you’re getting your daily dose of essential vitamins and minerals, which is why I always refer to my green smoothies as brain food.  I’m not a morning person and I find it difficult to eat breakfast so the first thing I do when I wake is make my smoothie, shower and then get ready for the day. By the time I start work my metabolic rate has had a significant boost, I’m feeling energised yet calm and am prepared for the day.

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