Tate & Lyle
Carst And Walker

What is matcha, the powder turning the world green?

Matcha is in lattes, smoothies, cocktails and face masks — and that’s just the beginning. But what is it and why is it everywhere?

In January 2015, we wrote about the rapid rise of matcha on the American beverage landscape and posed the question, “Have we reached maximum matcha saturation?”

Three years later, we’re living amid matcha croissants, matcha custard pie, matcha face masks, matcha lifestyle guides and $50 cups of matcha itself. Clearly, the answer was “No.”

But what is this powder we’re whisking into green lattes, baking into doughnuts, blending into smoothies, and adding to our fish fillets?

First, the basics…

Matcha is green tea that has been specially grown and processed. Twenty days before harvest, the leaves are shaded from direct sunlight, which amps up the chlorophyll levels (and accounts for that Kermit green colour) and increases the production of the amino acid L-Theanine, which is thought to promote relaxation even as the tea gives you a caffeine jolt.

The leaves are hand-picked and laid out to dry. Once they are rid of their veins and stems, they’re stone-ground into what is finally matcha.

The highest-quality matcha comes from Japan, where it’s been the focal point of ritualised tea ceremonies called chanoyu since the twelfth century. (The practice of milling tea leaves and whisking the powder with warm water originated even earlier, in tenth century China.)

Why are you seeing it everywhere?

Because matcha is incorporated into water (whereas other green teas are steeped in water), you consume the entire leaf—and thereby the full effects of its antioxidants, vitamins, and caffeine.

Fans say matcha provides a calmer, more sustained energy burst than coffee or espresso, and since it’s less astringent, it mingles more readily with fruit, yogurt, and herbs in wake-up drinks like smoothies and juices.

But matcha didn’t skyrocket to celeb status on health merits alone. As we said back in 2011, wheatgrass is healthy, too, but we’re not seeing it in every other bakery and café.

Matcha has flavour going for it — grassy, pleasantly vegetal, and slightly bitter — and a brilliant natural colour that makes baked goods (like rainbow cookies) stand out from the crowd in busy bakeries (and on Instagram)….

BonAppetit.com: Read the full article

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