In 2017 matcha became mainstream in the US, from Starbucks Frappuccino’s to ice cream and baked goods, it’s mild bitter green taste took America by storm in all culinary shapes and forms. Matcha is still a staple in Japan, used in the household for daily tea, sold at the convenient store and corner vending machines, but possibly most recognized from traditional Japanese tea ceremonies. Usually unsweetened, different varieties make for different flavors, and even with artisanal coffee cafes booming in Japan it is irreplaceable but what’s so magical about this fine powder tea?
A little history…
Matcha is the ground up leaf of the Camellia sinensis plant (while green tea is the steeped version of this tea leaf) and dates back over a thousand years in Japan. It is said that samurai warriors drank matcha before going into battle and Buddhist monks drank it to stay alert during meditation. The tea ceremony was first documented in the 9th century when a Buddhist monk returned from China with matcha. Although it was centuries to come for the Japanese tea ceremony to be shaped into what it is now.
Beauty in the leaf…
The science behind matcha shows it to be a nutritional powerhouse. Caffeine and L-Theanine (an amino acid) work synergistically to give a relaxed alertness without the jitters that coffee can possess. This special amino acid is known to reduce stress and have mood-boosting effects. This low dose of caffeine can also provide anti-inflammatory effects throughout the body including less redness in the skin, calming properties for breakouts and the ability to even skin tones. Also reducing puffiness and the accumulation of blood under your eyes which contribute to dark shadows. Polyphenols and EGCGs are strong antioxidants which provide a greater benefit for the skin with overall protection and repair abilities. Antioxidants fight free radicals that are responsible for causing premature skin aging with the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and loss of elasticity.
Matcha’s anti-inflammatory abilities are apparent in F Organics Moisture Cleansing Cream $41, containing green tea extract to soothe easily aggravated sensitive facial skin. Nerolilia Botanica Intensive Beauty Serum $80 contains green tea extract grown from organic farms in the countryside of Japan using it’s beautifying elements to strengthen cells, block UV rays and suppress oxidation that’s a cause of aging skin. It can also be found in AHA Body Clear Soap $10, this best-selling body wash brightens and exfoliates skin with AHAs while green tea extract calms fresh skin.
Let’s all agree that this trend shouldn’t go out of style anytime soon for its sweet bitter taste in a matcha latte, health benefits for better skin and ingredients in nourishing skincare products. If you’re looking for a proper matcha, find a deep green, the darker the matcha the older it is and loses its potency. A teaspoon a day is all you need for some benefits and don’t forget to whisk the fine power well to avoid bitter clumps. Please remember Matcha still has a dose of caffeine so if you’re sensitive please sip responsibly, kampai!