Dubbed as a healthier alternative to coffee, it is definitely one of the latest fads for hipsters. Match, a form of green tea, is believed to be healthier than the standard green tea bags due to its whole leaf being ingested in powder and this cause to undergo less processing which allows it to retain its natural nutrients.
In Japan, matcha products are best enjoyed during spring and summer. Green tea is commonly presented as a gift in Japan, to celebrate good health and longevity of your family and friends, celebrating any momentous or romantic occasion such as birthdays, holidays, weddings and purchasing new homes.
How Matcha is Made
Matcha originates from the same plant as other green teas, but due to the difference in the way the plant is grown, the resultant flavour and appearance are marked unique. Sencha, which is a loose-leaf variety, is grown under direct sunlight which causes the leaf to turn dark and produces an astringent (chalky sensation in mouth) yet refreshing taste.
On the other hand, matcha is grown under the shade, which increases the production of chlorophyll, a pigment that allows plants to absorb more sunlight. This, in turn, causes the leaves to be broader and have a deep green colour. High-Quality matcha powder is marked by its vibrant green hue. Besides, growing the plant in the shade also increases its amino acid levels which give the matcha powder its signature umami flavour.
The majority of tea comes in loose-leaf forms such as sencha and hojicha. The leaves are steeped in hot water to produce clear tea with colours ranging from pale yellow to greenish-brown. Meanwhile, for matcha tea, the leaves are stone-ground into powder form after removing the stem and the vein. For the preparation of matcha tea, the powder is whisked with hot water, and this produces an opaque, vibrant green drink that is slightly frothy and has a creamy, sweet flavour.
Different Grades of Matcha
Once the leaves have been harvested and ground into powder form, the matcha powder can be divided into two main grades which are ceremonial and culinary. Ceremonial-grade matcha is made from very young tea leaves and is the highest quality of matcha.
Traditionally, ceremonial-grade matcha is used in tea ceremonies, known as chanoyu or sado which literally translates to “the way of tea.” Due to its refined and delicate flavour, only hot water is added to the powder as dairy or sweeteners will smother the tea’s pureness.
For culinary-grade matcha, it can be further subdivided into “premium,” “café” and “ingredient.” Premium matcha is high-quality matcha is suitable for everyday consumption and can be procured at a more affordable price compared to ceremonial-grade matcha. Premium matcha has a fine texture which allows it to blend easily with water.
Café-grade matcha is similar to premium matcha but is made with hardier leaves which produce heavier flavour. This allows the matcha taste to stand out even after mixing with other ingredients such as in a smoothie or with espresso in a cup of coffee.
Lastly, ingredient-grade matcha is coarser and has a more concentrated flavour than all the other grades. This makes it suitable for baking, adding to sauces or combining with milk.
Popular Matcha Food Trends
Crepes are already amazing originally, but with matcha flavoured crepes, a teaspoon of matcha added to the recipe gives it a refreshing taste and colour.
Adding matcha to coffee such as latte is definitely a norm. Coffee houses and brands all over the country will definitely have the option of matcha latte or green tea latte. It is a popular choice for many coffee drinkers both for its health benefits and its pleasing taste and colour.
Matcha or green tea flavoured Pocky is definitely a favourite. With its crunchy biscuit coated with matcha flavoured chocolate, this snack is sure to come flying off the shelves.
Due to its immense popularity in Japan, Matcha KitKat can also be found in convenience stores. When one travels to Japan, their matcha flavoured goodies are not to be missed!
Besides finding matcha flavoured ice creams in specialty ice cream parlours, you may even find matcha flavoured ice cream if you wander into any convenience marts such as myNEWS.com or Family Mart and you are sure to see a wide selection of matcha green tea ice cream.
Detox smoothies have also included matcha powder to improve its taste and nutritional benefits. This superfood is able to give consumers a boost of energy as well. Smoothie bowls or even a frozen matcha smoothie is sure to keep you energised and healthy.
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