Living in the ever health-conscious Southern California, you have probably noticed the newest ‘it’ beverage, matcha. Scrolling through any social media site lately, it’s hard to ignore the tremendous recurrence of the vibrant green drink. In fact, the hashtag #matcha yields almost 2 million posts on Instagram.
Essentially green tea, but prepared through a completely different and unique method, matcha requires meticulous patience. Instead of a tea bag being steeped in water, which can take away a lot of the potency, its leaves are ground into a finely milled powder. This ensures it is consumed in the highest concentration, and thus retains all of the nutrients.
Matcha has been at the center of Japanese culture since the 12th century, eventually transforming into an elaborate tea ceremony ritual that epitomizes grace. It is an art form, one that is brought to life by grand ceremony and careful intricacy.
At Harmony Tea Bar in Mission Viejo, a big hotspot for not only teens, one of their speciality items is their matcha, which comes in a delightful variety, from the pastel matcha lattes to the beautifully authentic hot ceremonial matcha.
Daniela Maldini, Saddleback College student and barista for Harmony Tea Bar, walks through the elaborate process. The high grade powder is carefully measured out to weigh exactly three grams. This ensures the drink is the perfect proportion of matcha and water.
“It’s weirdly specific, but really does make a difference,” Maldini says.
Next, she adds three ounces of hot water, precisely 170 degrees Fahrenheit, to the ceramic bowl of green powder. Using a bamboo whisk, she vigorously beats the mixture until the powder is dissolved and the liquid becomes frothy. The technique for whisking is very specific and demands your full attention.
“We have to keep whisking it in a sort of M shape so that no air bubbles or clumps are created,” Maldini says. “That way the mixture is consistent and perfectly combined.”
Once the serene green liquid is achieved, it is slowly poured into the awaiting cup of iced almond milk. The stark contrast between the pure white of the almond milk and the vivid green of the matcha makes for an aesthetic vision.
A woman expertly orders her matcha with the confidence befitting a seasoned regular. A barista says she comes in almost every day to order her precious beverage.
“It’s amazing, so addicting,” self-proclaimed matcha superfan Ana Walden says. “It’s literally like a green cocaine … but you know, healthy.”
The seemingly endless benefits of this emerald green tea have been responsible for its skyrocketing popularity.
In fact, a single cup of matcha contains 60 times more antioxidants than spinach and almost five times as much as goji berries. These antioxidants supposedly aid your immune system significantly – and experts promise protection against heart disease and even cancer. Research has also shown matcha’s capabilities in anti-aging, regulating blood sugar, decreasing blood pressure, and boosting your metabolism.
Matcha is unique since it creates an entirely different caffeine buzz than coffee. This natural energy-booster contains the amino acid l-theanine, which is responsible for an alert-calm that allows you to be focused yet relaxed. Consumers love this aspect because it is long-lasting, yet doesn’t give you the nervous jitters coffee sometimes produces.
“This peaceful clarity can get you through your day and tasks without that anxious after-effect that is synonymous with a cup of coffee,” says Eric Gower, matcha expert and founder of the successful Breakaway Matcha company. “I really do think it enhances your concentration and ability to retain information.”
Gower even claims that matcha has the ability to improve your breath.
“A cup of matcha after meals acts as a sterilizer,” Gower says. “The catechin blast delays the growth of germs in your mouth.”
Gower passionately advocates that more people should start to drink matcha, claiming their lives will be changed.
“Matcha is so much more than just a trendy Instagram or Snapchat aesthetic,” he says. “It can positively affect people’s’ lives.”
Just like your favorite cup of coffee, matcha can be customized any number of ways. Of course, it is not limited to just tea. Matcha nowadays comes in a variety of forms – it is found in ice cream, cake popcorn, pancakes, and even salt.
A common misconception is that matcha tastes bitter and grassy, but Gower insists otherwise.
“Hyperpremium matcha has an incredibly rich and alluring taste profile that’s probably closer to wine in complexity and enjoyment than other teas,” Gower says.
Consumers praise this natural caffeinated elixir you can sip with peace of mind, knowing it does wonders for your well-being and body.
“I feel like I can accomplish anything when I drink this, it’s super helpful for getting shit done,” Walden says. “And I don’t feel guilty about drinking more than one cup a day since I know it’s good for me.”
Although it requires meticulous time-consuming preparation, it has converted many java-addicts to the world of matcha. It may have started its spiral into mainstream notoriety due to its Insta-worthy aesthetic and the novelty of its preparation, however such popularity with the masses and its rewarding advantages prove that matcha is no passing fad, but a movement that is here to stay.