Matcha green tea has been around for centuries and here on Prince Edward Island it is making its way into many a teacup. It's a healthy beverage, and it is recognized that one cup of green tea (250ml) increases antioxidant capacity in the blood.
Japan is foremost in the production of matcha although other countries, including China and Kenya, have developed the style of the Japanese. The tea leaves are shaded for about 20 days before plucking. They are then dried, but not rolled like other green teas. During the drying process all the veins and stems are removed and the leaf is slowly ground into a fine powder in stone mills. Thus, when one drinks matcha, one is getting the leaf and all its goodness in its entirety! It actually takes about one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha. It's a long process and that, my friends is partly why it is expensive.
Traditionally the Japanese used matcha in their formal tea ceremony and to the Japanese, tea consumption was a philosophical practice. Much discipline and thought goes into the ceremony.
To us in the Western hemisphere, drinking matcha in many different forms has become a health craze, and so it should be...although some of the things we add, like sweeteners, may undermine some of the goodness!
At Lady Baker's Tea, we enjoy our matcha! I do believe that my student employee, Willow, makes the best matcha latte of anyone. Here's how we make it:
Our milk mixture (for those who are okay with dairy and sugar) is 5 parts skimmed milk to 1 part sweetened condensed milk. So this is a slightly sweet latte. Some of our matcha lovers substitute almond, soy or coconut milks with a little added honey.
In a 4 cup measuring cup or bowl, put 1 tsp of the powdered matcha. Add 8 ounces of hot water that is heated to 80 degrees celsius. Now for the fun part. Using a matcha bamboo whisk, first stir the mixture, then whisk it from bottom to top. Continue to whisk on the surface until a layer of foam develops. It's so pretty! Pour it into a large mug. If you have a steam wand, foam the milk. You can do this with a wire whisk too in a pot on the stove. Then add it to the matcha, and you're ready to drink!
Another tasty way to make a matcha treat is what we have named our Lime Ricky. In a measuring cup or bowl, put 1 tsp. matcha powder, 1 tablespoon honey (more if desired) and 1 tbsp lime cordial. Whisk this mixture till thick and smooth before adding 8 oz. hot water. It's one of those pucker up drinks with a sweet aftertaste. Substitute lime for pineapple juice. Experiment!
And if you really want to start your day with a gentle jolt, you can make koicha. I've tried it and it definitely will wake you up! Check out the link and give it a try!
Of course one can have it as one is supposed to! That's with approximately 1/4 tsp matcha and 4 oz. hot water. Whisk and sip!
Apart from drinking matcha, I have had great success with a Matcha and Lime Torte from a cookbook by Tonia George. I can highly recommend this book for its wonderful tea recipes. My co-worker, Shannon will be posting a matcha cookie recipe in the near future which will be a fun and new addition to your traditional holiday baking. Look for that in a December blog.
However you want to try matcha, I suggest you buy it unadulterated. There are lots of powdered teas out there, but they are not necessarily matcha. In my opinion, it's best to stay away from pre-sweetened mixes if you want to get the health benefits and a true Matcha.
October is coming to an end and our clocks will be set back an hour in November. As our days will be shorter and darkness sets in, whisk up some matcha, relax awhile and feel its goodness!