Beginning in the Tang Dynasty in China, the tradition of drinking tea travelled through Buddhist monasteries and across to Imperial Japan, where brewing Matcha tea, in particular, is now a staple in the long-standing tradition of the Chanoyu – the elaborate and culture-rich Japanese tea ceremony.
The best tea bushes are covered and grown for up to three weeks prior to being harvested, so as to shade the leaves from direct sunlight, boosting chlorophyll and nutrient levels, cultivating a darker, richer shade of green. The leaves are then hand-picked, steamed, dried and skilfully stone-ground into a fine green powder. While typical teas are prepared by steeping leaves in a bag, the green tea powder produced in this process is not strained. Instead, the entire leaf is dissolved and consumed in water, making Matcha exponentially more potent than other tea varieties.
Due to its unique shading process, Matcha contains elevated levels of the naturally occurring amino acid L-Theanine, which stimulates a sense of calmness and grounding in the body. It has also been said to help the memory, all while inhibiting any possible side effects of caffeine, a natural element of green tea. The result is concentration and clarity of the mind, and a favourable option for an afternoon pick-me-up or any time that extra bit of focus is needed.
Matcha has also been frequently lauded for its high concentration of antioxidants, possessing six times that of goji berries, seven times that of dark chocolate, seventeen times that of wild blueberries and sixty times that of spinach.
Unlike many diet aids, a unique health benefit of Matcha is that it raises the metabolism rate and burns fat without placing undue stress on the body by raising heart rate or blood pressure.
This rich superfood has proven to be abundant not only in culture and traditional preparation methods but also in health benefits, invigorating what is already within.
I was delighted to have recently stumbled upon a newly established local Singaporean company Matchaya, where certified organic premium ingredients from different prefectures in Japan have been combed to produce a variety of Japanese milk tea. There is the Matcha Latte, a Hojicha Tea, which is a roasted green tea, and a Royal Milk Tea option as well as premix tea powders on offer. Best of all, they deliver right to your door, making it convenient for anyone to join in on this green tea party.