Who is excited for a little lesson on the trendy tea you may have seen floating around the world of Starbucks Green Tea Latte's called Matcha? I know you have probably heard of it because Matcha is one of those "superfoods", that has become more and more popular in the past few years, and has slowly started to infiltrate its ways into many coffee cups, most likely due to some spurred curiosity in a local Starbucks line.
Honestly, I totally get why people are jumping on board of this trendy food item, and really do believe that Matcha can have a place in a healthy diet, especially if it replacing an sugar filled macchiato or two.This is one of my favorite "superfoods" that I add to my smoothies, chia puddings, and simple lattes for a little extra does of healthy antioxidants a few times a week. So what is Matcha exactly?
Matcha literally translates to powdered tea, which is exactly what it is. When typically making tea a person would take the tea leaves, steep them in water, and then discard the leaves after. When making Matcha tea, the leaves have actually been ground up into a fine powder, and after combining with water, the tea is ingested in its entirety.
Since Green Tea has been widely recognized as a healthy source of both caffeine, and specific antioxidants known as catechins, when consuming Matcha because you are consuming the entire tea leaf, the percentage of antioxidants also consumed is much higher than your typical cup of green tea. EGCG is one of the most prevalent catechins found in Matcha and represents more than 60% of the catechins present in the tea itself. This has gotten a lot of attention in recent years as EGCG has been found to have antioxidant effects, and could be preventative in fighting free-radicals known to cause cancer. (1) While the jury is still out as to how much green tea is both safe, and protective against disease, the research has been positive in showing that green tea could have a place in a healthy diet, and aid in preventative health.
Matcha has also been recognized to cause an "alert-calm", which is very different from the jittery caffeine kick sometimes felt with coffee. This calming sensation is attributed to the l-theanine that is present in Matcha tea. L-theanine is an amino-acid that actually promotes the production of alpha-waves in the brain, which induces feelings of relaxation, without causing drowsiness. So if you are in need of a boost of energy, that also has a calming sensation on your nerves...maybe before a big test, or presentation, Matcha could be a good switch from your typical cup of coffee.
Now before I get to my delicious homemade Matcha Vanilla Latte recipe, I did just want to talk about lead, and lead's connection with tea in general. All tea, whether it has been organically grow or not, that is grown in soil which has lead, will ultimately have some level of lead in the tea itself (particularly tea from Chia). However, when you traditionally steep tea leaves, about 90% of the lead is discarded along with the left over tea leaves, and does not enter into our systems. This means that for tea that you are steeping regularly, lead content really isn't something that you need to be overly concerned about. But, since Matcha tea is different, and you are in fact consuming the tea leaf itself, it is important to purchase high quality matcha tea, ideally from a location such as Japan, where lead contamination in tea has found to be minimal, and also look for brands who report consistent testing for heavy metals. This is my personal favorite Matcha Tea from DavidsTea. It is perfect in lattes, and is from a brand and region that I trust.
matcha tea vanilla latte
This Matcha latte is naturally sweetened (slightly) and has a delicious warm earthiness that is wonderful for a slightly healthier caffeine kick in the morning.
1 tsp matcha tea
1/3 cup hot water
1/3 cup non-dairy milk
1/4 tsp gluten free vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp honey
Heat water on stove until boiling. Allow to cool for 1-2 minutes.
Combine heated water with matcha tea, vanilla extract, and honey, and whisk quickly until the match begins to foam slightly (you can also use a traditional bamboo whisk if you have one).
Heat 1/3 non-dairy milk (I personally like using almond or cashew milk, and then froth with a milk frother.
Pour matcha tea into a tea cup half way, and then fill the remaining half with your frothed milk.
Top with a dash of cinnamon and enjoy!
1. Source: Nagle DG, et al. Epigallocatchin-3-gallate (EGCG): Chemical and biomedical perspectives. Phytochemistry. 2006;67(17):1849-1855. doi: 10.1016/j.phytochem.2006.06.020