I have to be completely transparent. My love affair with matcha began at Target. I was on a road trip, starving for something green, and I saw a lady with a bright green beverage in a Starbucks cup in the check out line. "Excuse me ma'am, but what are you drinking?" I'm sure I seemed a bit crazy, but I didn't care. And I'm so glad I talk to strangers, because it was love at first sight for matcha and I. I've come to learn the difference between really bad matcha and really, really great matcha. And I no longer order the sugar-laden Starbucks variety, in favor for whipping up a matcha potion of my own at home.
Matcha shows up for me in many ways. With coconut butter when I need to feel comforted. With MCT oil and ghee when I need a boost. Filled with potions like adaptogenic mushrooms and CBD oil. And sometimes it shows up unburdened, over ice, with coconut milk. While there’s no single “right” way to enjoy matcha (at least, not to me) there are a few rules of thumb you should keep in mind before you dive into making a cup of matcha for yourself. (Like my favorite bulletproof matcha!)
Wait, but what is matcha?
Most of us have seen the dreamy photos of matcha lattes flooding Instagram, and if you haven’t, just search the hashtag #MatchaLover. And, while it might seem like the latest health craze floating around the internet, matcha is actually rooted in history.
For anyone who doesn’t know, Matcha is a Japanese green tea that can be traced back to the Chinese Zen Buddhist Monks. Matcha was brought to Japan in 1191, and the rest is history. (Literally, you can read more about it here!) Fun fact, the word Matcha comes from Japanese: “ma” translates to rubbed or ground, while “cha” means tea.
To get scientific on you for a second, matcha is shade grown, so the tea leaves are forced to overproduce chlorophyll, which gives matcha its nice bright green color.
When the plants are ready for harvest, the leaves are hand-picked, steamed, dried, destemmed and deveined. The pure leaves, known as “tencha” at this stage, are then expertly ground into a fine powder. While the grinding process is traditionally done with a stone mill or mortar and pestle, powdering machines are now often used to produce a higher volume of Matcha in a shorter amount of time.
Plus, matcha is super versatile, meaning if you’re not a huge fan of tea, you can still find ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle. I love using it for matcha smoothies, but it’s also amazing for baking into treats like these matcha green tea cookies and mint matcha chip “cheesecake” bars.
What kind of matcha should you buy?
When it comes to great matcha, quality is key. Once you open the container, it should smell slightly sweet, not bitter or metal-y. The green will be vibrant, not muddy.
As a general rule, high quality matcha is sourced from Japan, so check out the origin of your powder. And I hate to be the bearer of less than great news, but you truly do get what you pay for. Expect to pay $30+ for a small tin/jar of ceremonial-grade matcha.
Need some help finding great matcha brands? A few of my favorites are Heapwell, Ippodo, Soar Organics (Tiffany15 for 15% off + free shipping), Matchabar (Use code 20Tiffany for 20% off), The Matcha Reserve, Matchaful, and House of Matcha.
Why is matcha good for you?
The nutrients in matcha are equivalent to 10 cups of steeped green tea. That's insane! This article talks more about the health benefits of matcha, and it includes anti-aging and longer lasting energy. You had me at anti-aging. A few other potential benefits include:
Antioxidants (60x as much as spinach)
Brain power, aids in concentration
Calms the mind and relaxes the body
Sustained energy boost (Contains approximately 1/2 the amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, but because of the presence of L-Theanine, it provides a less jittery, longer lasting effect)
As if you needed more reasons to love matcha beyond the taste and the pretty green color, that list should do it for you.
If you want to learn more about matcha (including how to make the perfect matcha at home), you can download my $3 Foolproof Guide to Matcha, or if you’re ready to take your matcha game up a level, check out my e-book Mystical Matcha, with 13 recipes aligned with the zodiac signs. Lots of exclusive discount codes are in the e-book too, so it pays for itself if you need to stock up on matcha.
I'd love to hear how you drink your matcha, what cafés are making great matcha lattés around the world, and of course, I love seeing all of your swoonworthy matcha pics on Instagram.