Matcha green tea is popular for breakfast, in the afternoon (perhaps with a cookie), before and after taking a yoga class, while on a meditation session, on a hike, before an important meeting or even right before getting in your car after having a glass of wine.
This super drink has several distinguishing features; however, the top four are:
- It is a form of tea leaves that, unlike other green teas, is finely ground into a powder.
- Matcha tea is not steeped, it is rather taken as a whole. You only mix the matcha powder with hot water with an electric milk frother or, traditionally, a handheld bamboo whisk.
- Matcha green tea has many health benefits. It is highly packed with naturally occurring amino acids and antioxidants.
- Matcha tea is a lot more like some good wine. Its growth conditions give it a balanced acid structure that pairs well with different foods and has a lasting finish.
Matcha and Caffeine
One common question about matcha tea is about its caffeine content. Matcha contains about 25mg of caffeine; this is roughly a third the amount of caffeine in a brewed cup of coffee; which is a relatively small amount. Moreover, other components of matcha slow down the absorption of this caffeine into the bloodstream, such that it takes around three to six hours.
By definition, all types of tea, whether green or black, contain some caffeine in the molecular structure of the tea plant. This is why high-quality matcha is grown conventionally without any organic fertilizers. Matcha green tea differs from coffee and other types of tea in that the caffeine in it works in an exceptionally synergistic manner together with the antioxidants, phytonutrients and amino acids in matcha.
This combination of antioxidants+ amino acids+ phytonutrients + caffeine gives matcha drinkers an unusual effect; the ability to remain productive and focused for an extended period (for some this effect lasts as long as six hours). Most people find it quite fascinating and pleasant unlike when we experience jitteriness linked to caffeine from coffee. Caffeine molecules present in matcha tend to bind to more stable molecules (a good example is catechins). The caffeine is therefore released slowly over time unlike with brewed coffee or espresso, where all is released at once. This slow release inhibits the sudden increase of insulin levels. Therefore, there is no “crash” due to sudden drops in blood sugar, as experienced by most coffee drinkers after having a cup. Matcha green tea does not stimulate production of the stress hormone, cortisol, as coffee can.
We can describe the effects of caffeine present in matcha tea similar to “the hit felt upon taking an espresso, a deep, powerful and jittery roar; like having a fast train screaming through your body. The effect from matcha is this stimulating and fascinating, but in a more refined and delicate way. Imagine a feeling like having a million butterflies on your body, flapping their wings until you are lifted gently a few inches from the ground. (Seriously.)”
Truly superior, high-quality matcha must have these five key characteristics:
- Superior umami
- A brilliant color intensity
- Excellent terroir; by definition, this means rare tea.
- A creamy froth.
- A smooth, long finish containing cream to the last drop.
Wondering how you can tell good matcha from the bad? We have this for you.
It is easy to differentiate good matcha from bad matcha upon opening your package. Note that packaging is at times deceptive, you cannot tell by just looking at it: always buy matcha from a trusted supplier! Once you open the package, first check the color. High–quality matcha is bright green. I mean, electric green. On the other side, bad matcha is dull green, army green or even yellowish. This indicates that the matcha contains branches or stems, or is expired. Next time when accessing the quality of your matcha, let color be the immediate aspect you consider.
Next: take a deep, slow inhale at a close range. Some good matcha will have a fresh inviting and vegetal smell, like that of freshly blended green vegetables. If your matcha tea smells a little dusty, a little stale, or like some old hay . . . Well, that’s not so good.
How does your matcha taste? After you have whisked your matcha, you should feel a sweet natural taste, with superior umami and a long finish (30 seconds). Inferior matcha has an unpleasantly bitter taste and might require you to add some honey or sugar. Drinking good world class matcha brings an epicurean experience, like that of drinking a glass or two of great wine after a busy day.
Now, you understand the mark of high quality and truly excellent matcha green tea, the low calorie coffee alternative.