Ready To Try Matcha?
Here’s why you should, what it is and how to take it.

If you’re active on Instagram or Pinterest, chances are you’ve seen countless images of beautiful cups of matcha green tea, lattes, smoothies and more. Common in Asia for centuries, matcha made its way to the United States many years ago, but has taken off in the last few years. As with any trend, you may wonder if matcha is good for you, or if it’s all hype. In this case, there’s compelling research to support this beautiful green elixir.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a green tea powder that’s full of healthy compounds. Though now also produced in China, matcha was originally only grown and harvested in the southern region of Japan. It's traditionally prepared and poured in the Japanese tea ceremony, a ritual that focuses on intention and mindfulness.

If you like the taste of green tea, you’ll love matcha. Though some might say it’s an acquired taste, matcha tends to be less bitter than standard green tea. It’s rich and smooth, and the flavor is a little grassy – in a good way. Because it’s a powder, matcha can be dissolved in warm water to enjoy as a healthy beverage or prepared in a variety of other ways.

Why Drink Matcha?

It’s potent. Unlike the tea you steep and sip, with matcha you consume the entire tea leaf. Because nothing is left behind, matcha delivers a more concentrated cup of nutrients and antioxidants than steeped teas. For example, research shows that matcha contains at least three times the epigallocatechin gallate as steeped green tea. EGCG is the polyphenol known for its ability to slightly boost calorie burn and studied for its role in reducing cancer cell growth.

Here are a few of the health benefits common to green tea and multiplied in matcha:

It provides small amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Matcha is rich in polyphenols (antioxidants) that may help fight certain cancers, reduce the risk of heart disease and even offer some anti-aging benefits.

It may help you focus. Matcha is rich in the amino acid L-theanine, which is known for its relaxing and anti-anxiety effects. In conjunction with the caffeine naturally present in matcha, theanine may help increase alertness without the jittery feeling some people get from coffee and other caffeinated products.

Matcha inspires mindfulness. Unlike standard steeped tea, matcha requires a few extra preparation steps – making it a perfect way to slow down and be more mindful about the process and the day ahead.

The benefits are solid. If you’re ready to jump on the matcha bandwagon, you should know that pure matcha will cost a little more than a typical box of green tea from the supermarket. A small tin – which makes 20 to 25 cups – can cost upwards of $25. But put in perspective, at roughly $1 per cup, it’s less expensive than a morning latte or frappucino at your local coffee shop.

Like anything, a cup of matcha is only as good as its source. Matcha is powdered green tea, but not all powdered green tea is matcha. There are imposters. Do some research and take these steps to ensure you get the best quality for your money:

Buy from a reputable source.

Check the color. Good quality matcha will have a vibrant green color. The delicate powder will be light and brightly colored.

Skip the matcha mixes and blends. Many of these include other ingredients like sugar and may not use the highest quality tea.

Once you find your favorite, store matcha in the original packaging – usually a small tin – in a dark, cool location. Some tea experts recommend keeping it in the freezer to maintain freshness. In any case, seal it tight after each use to keep moisture out.

I suggest enjoying your first sip simply whisked with warm water - no added sugar – to get a feel for it. Matcha is good all on its own. If you’re not quite ready to swap your morning cup of joe for matcha, enjoy it in other ways. Add other flavors and try different recipes. These are not traditional ways to use matcha, but they’re tasty nonetheless:

Orange Matcha Iced Tea from The Organic Dietitian
My Coconut Ginger Matcha Latte
Matcha Power Smoothie Bowl from The Nutrition Adventure
Ginger Matcha Green Tea Infused Chia Pudding from The Spicy RD
No Bake Matcha Cheesecake Bites from The Foodie Dietitian

In addition to these ideas, use matcha to add depth and flavor to a variety of recipes. Add a teaspoon to your morning smoothie, yogurt or oats, create a savory marinade or sauce for fish, chicken gif or tofu, or add it to cool, creamy desserts. The options are only limited by your imagination.

—Marisa Moore (June 2, 2016)