March 15, 2011
Drink to Long Life with Japanese Matcha
There have been countless claims throughout history of people declaring that they have found the secret to long life. Whether it is in special water found at an oasis in a city of gold at the end of the earth or in a rare pill that will give you just the thing you need to get better. Aren’t we all looking for that? Well, I don’t claim tea to be THE secret to healthy longevity, BUT, I do think it helps! The healthiest tea that I have come across for overall benefits is the Japanese matcha powder green tea. The difference between matcha and other green teas is that it is tea that you are ingesting rather than infusing. This means that the powder remains in the water and you drink the entire ground up tea leaf in powder form. Most teas you just infuse or steep in hot water and you drink the infusion. Japanese matcha is whisked into the water, giving all the nutritional benefits of the green tea leaf.
Another unique characteristic about matcha is that it is shade grown. The last three to four weeks before the tea leaves are harvested for processing, they cover the tea bushes. The shading causes the tea plant to produce more clorophyll, making it very green. This tea is called Gyokuro. Gyokuro that is stored for matcha is called Tencha. Tencha is then taken and ground up into powder form for the Japanese tea ceremony.
There are many grades of matcha available on the market. The best matcha for drinking is ceremonial matcha. Ceremonial matcha has an extremely smooth taste and is a bright green color. You can distinguish good matcha from the best matcha by tasting buttery, creamy, smooth seaweed notes. Low grade matcha is gray in color and the taste is stale. If you are cooking with matcha, for instance, making green tea ice cream, matcha scones or a smoothie, you might consider using a lower grade to save money. For drinking matcha, the best matcha you can find should be used.