What Is Matcha?
Matcha is green tea where the entire green leaf of the tea plant is ground into a powder, mixed with hot water, and whisked into a frothy drink. We serve matcha as a latte drink with steamed milk foam. If you order regular brewed green tea, you don’t consume the whole leaf, just the liquid remaining after the tea is brewed in hot water. So, the process of preparing matcha is quite different than with green tea. In fact, this careful process of measuring out the matcha powder, whisking it with hot water, and serving it is the crux of Japanese tea ceremony. Preparing matcha should be a meditative and reverent process. Japanese call this ceremony “The Way of Tea.” Enjoy your matcha with peace and reflection.
Matcha is grown from carefully tended, shaded tea plants with a specific amount of filtered sunlight. This growing condition produces the vibrant green of the matcha. The matcha also has an altered chemical makeup of caffeine and flavor from this growing method. Matcha has a distinctive umami flavor that is very different than green tea.
How Is Matcha Processed?
Matcha tea leaves are carefully picked. Only the most tender new spring leaves are harvested during a very short growing season. After the leaves are picked, the matcha leaves are briefly steamed within mere hours after harvest. This steam intensifies the bright green color of the matcha, stops the oxidation of the leaves, and helps create the grassy flavor of the matcha. Regular green tea leaves are rolled, shaped, and dried. Matcha, however, has to be laid out flat to dry, and these dried leaves are called the tencha. Tea processers then strip the stems and veins out of the tencha. At this point, they grind the tencha in stone mills to make fine matcha powder. These are some of the factors that contribute to the expense of matcha tea powder.
What Are the Health Benefits?
If you take a sip of matcha and think that you must be doing something good for your body, you are right. While matcha does have caffeine, it is not metabolized the same as coffee. Even though you will benefit from 6 to 8 hours of alertness after drinking matcha, you will not suffer from the jitteriness that can happen after drinking coffee. You will also not have the energy crash that can happen after drinking coffee. This is due to L-theanine, a protein compound that counteracts the nervous jittery reaction of caffeine. The L-theanine in matcha induces a relaxed alertness in your body. This relaxed, peaceful sensation from matcha can help ward off depression and anxiety. Matcha promotes concentration and focus, making it the perfect drink when you are studying for a test, or need to have good focus for a project.
In addition to the concentration and focus benefits, matcha is loaded with antioxidants. Matcha has all the benefits of regular green, and then some. Since all the leaf is consumed instead of simply extracted as with green tea, this amounts to three to ten times the potential health benefits of brewed green tea. Antioxidants in matcha can help reduce inflammation, promote weight loss, and support immune system health. There is ongoing research to determine if matcha may have antiviral properties as well. Regularly consuming green tea has been shown to help heart health by improving blood sugar, LDL cholesterol, and total cholesterol levels.
What Do You Serve at Beans & Butter Coffeehouse?
We serve Barista Grade matcha powder by Rishi Tea. You could consider this an “everyday” matcha powder that is a second-harvest variety. The taste is described as assertive, lively, and invigorating. The Rishi Barista Grade is intended to be used in lattes and culinary preparations. If you are a serious matcha drinker, talk to us about adding the ceremonial grade to our menu. This is a much pricier matcha, but it is intended to be consumed without any other ingredients other than hot water to appreciate the full flavor of the matcha and with the full ceremonial preparation.
What Are the Pink and Blue Matcha Drinks?
We also serve pink and blue “matcha” drinks, but these are not truly green matcha drinks, but rather organic botanicals. These drinks have the same ceremonial preparation as the green matcha, but are not caffeinated. Our blue botanical matcha is a blue butterfly pea flower. When ordering this drink, please be aware that the butterfly pea flower does not have much flavor. It has a very neutral edamame-type flavor. We suggest adding orange syrup or perhaps lavender syrup to further enhance the Blue Matcha Latte. The pink organic botanical matcha is an organic powdered pink dragon fruit. The pink botanical is also served as a latte and has hints of strawberry and kiwi flavors.
Both pink and blue matcha drinks are sugar-free, unless you would like us to add something to sweeten your drink. The pink matcha is good for gut health. If you are looking for a fun and pretty drink try blue matcha. One of the many interesting things about blue matcha has to do with its color-changing ability. Blue matcha in hot water with a pH of 4 to 6 will appear as a dark blue color. If you change the drink’s pH to be more acidic, 3 and lower, such as adding lemon juice, the color will shift into a violet or pink color. When the pH is more than 6 the color will shift to be more green/yellow.
All matcha lattes at Beans & Butter can be served hot or iced. Try one today!