What Is Matcha? And Is It Healthy?
------Matcha is a powder of green tea leaves packed with antioxidants.
Though its origins trace back over thousands of years in Japan, the café menu item of this very moment is matcha. Matcha-infused innovations such as matcha muffins, matcha pancakes and matcha drinks are sweeping the nation…it seems like everywhere you go it’s matcha, matcha, matcha.
It’s become such a fashionable beverage that, last summer, the New York Post ran a story about how Victoria’s Secret models were flocking to Cha Cha Matcha, a hipster spot fluent in the preparation of various matcha-based miracle potions. A search for where to get “matcha” in New York, New York on Yelp yielded some 1400 plus results. Even mass market coffee purveyors like Starbucks have made matcha their mantra, with a vast range of offerings to cash in on the craze.
Matsu ‘to rub’ + cha ‘tea’ = matcha
What is it about the magical, mystical properties of this ground green tea that makes it one of the most desirable ingredients among the fashion and wellness warrior set? Is it a legit health boost that should be integrated into your daily regimen? Or a health fad doomed to fall by way of coconut oil?
Evidence pointing to a boost exists in abundance. But first, let’s clarify what matcha is to begin with — in case you were trapped under something heavy these past few years. It’s basically green tea, derived from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, finely ground. Oxford’s Living Dictionary cites its origins in Japan as a combo of two terms, “from matsu ‘to rub’ + cha ‘tea’, from Chinese (Mandarin dialect) chá (see tea).” Matcha masters House of Matcha say the beverage is steeped in history. “Samurai warriors drank matcha green tea before going into battle because of its energizing properties, and Zen Buddhist monks drank it as a way to flow through meditation while remaining alert,” reads the website.
Matcha is not just exotic in sound but in formulation, ranging from lower “cooking grade” powders to more expensive “ceremonial grade” powders, with enough selection to agonize over when choosing one to top your chia pudding.
To get the best quality matcha (according to the matcha set, it matters), make sure your matcha is bright green — the greener, the better. The darker the matcha, the older the matcha, and its beneficial properties weaken over time.
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