Matcha is a little miracle. Its crazy green hue, distinct flavor and versatility as an ingredient would be enough on their own to launch it into the stratosphere of cool foods, but add in its prodigious health benefits ... it’s almost supernatural. Oh, and that: it’s super natural.
The staple upon which traditional Japanese tea ceremonies were built in the 12th century, matcha is powdered green tea leaves. The best matcha comes from Japan, where the tea bushes are covered for 20 days before being harvested; the shade allows for a boost of chlorophyll, which accounts for the tea's intensely green hue. Protection from direct sunlight also incites higher levels of the amino acid, L-Theanine, which provides matcha with its unique simultaneous stimulating and calming properties.
Matcha is also a standout for its high levels of catechins; the antioxidants in green tea that have been linked to notable health benefits, including lower incidences of cancer. One study found that matcha has 137 times greater the amount of one important catechin (epigallocatechin gallate) than China Green Tips green tea, and at least three times more than what has been proven in other green teas.
One of the reasons it’s thought to be so salubrious is that rather than drinking an infusion of tea leaves, as we do when drinking traditional tea, we are actually consuming the complete leaf. After harvesting, the leaves are stone-ground into a fine powder ... and then that powder is shipped to us so that we can whisk it into tea and lattes and tuck it into any number of delicious confections and comestibles, like the ones found on the following pages.