As a beginner to matcha, there’s a lot to know. There are different qualities you can buy, and even a specific way to make it. This can be quite overwhelming if you’re just starting to drink matcha.
The matcha craze has blown up in the past few years in North America, and for good reason. Let’s just say people discovered the abnormal amount of health benefits of Matcha. But drinking Matcha tea is a century-old tradition in Japan – it was consumed for its medicinal properties even then.
Nowadays, people are throwing it in anything you can consume. Like smoothies, oatmeal, and different desserts. But let’s bring it back to the basics and discuss matcha for beginners: find out how to buy it, make it – the traditional way – and where this magical powder comes from.
So here’s the ultimate beginner’s guide to matcha…
Psst! This blog post contains affiliate links in it which sends me a bit of extra money if you use them… at no extra cost to you!
First Things First, What Is Matcha?
So what is this magical powder, and how did it come to be so powerful? Matcha is finely ground powder from the Camellia sinensis leaves (don’t know what that is? Learn more about the tea basics).
In order to use the Camellia sinensis leaves for Matcha, the plant has to be shade grown. And you have to pluck the youngest leaves. Then, like green tea, they’re steamed and dried to stop oxidization from continuing.
So this is why Matcha is often marketed as a green tea, but they are barely alike. Even those two distinctions make the world of difference. It’s what gives matcha all its beneficial power. That, and the fact that instead of simply brewing the leaves, you’re actually drinking them.
Benefits Of Matcha: Why Add Matcha To Your Diet?
There’s no wonder why this tea has picked up in popularity over the years. The health benefits of matcha are crazy! So crazy that you should’ve been drinking Matcha like… yesterday.
As I mentioned before, you drink the whole leaf instead of brewing and leaving the tea leaves behind. Because of that, you’re automatically gaining more of the benefits. So you’re just getting more antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and fibres than regular tea.
And! On top of that, there are more benefits of Matcha because the leaves used to make it have been shade grown. Being shade grown increases the number of amino acids and L-theanine it produces. So whatever benefits you think green tea has, just double it for the benefits of matcha. This is the superfood of tea.
What Are These Magical Benefits Of Matcha?
The benefits of matcha come from all the antioxidants it’s loaded with. Antioxidants fight cell damage (known as free radicals). So they help fight off chronic diseases like diabetes and cancer.
It increases your metabolic rate. So it helps your body work faster at flushing out certain toxins and process healthy nutrients. This is directly related to having a healthier liver.
It makes you smarter! Joking, I wish. But it does boost brain functionality. This has been proven to improve your attention, reaction time, and memory. And as a result of that, you can do better at work or school.
The increased brain function is thanks to the theanine. It’s like caffeine in coffee, but better! It gives you an extra boost without the terrible crash. It’s more of a relaxing, stress-reducing source of energy – if that even makes sense. It was also proven that it improves your long term brain functionality if it’s consumed daily.
Matcha Guide: How To Add Matcha To Your Diet
Because it’s become so popular, it seems like you can find an unlimited supply of drink and food recipes with matcha. People keep finding new ways to get this “super tea” into their diet. I love Oh, How Civilized’s recipes. These are great if you want the benefits of matcha, without that strong Matcha flavour. She even adds it to popcorn!
I like the taste of Matcha, so I just drink it with a bit of milk and sometimes honey. When I first started drinking matcha, I included it into my daily diet by switching out my morning orange pekoe with matcha.
I definitely like this change. Matcha is a great energy booster so it’s a great way to start my day. It has more caffeine than my regular cup of tea, but still less than coffee. So it won’t make me bounce off the walls and then crash later.
The downside is that matcha is a little bit more involved to both prepare and buy than regular tea.
In the summertime, I also love making these iced matcha recipes. My favourite is raspberry matcha lemonade, see the full recipe here.
Matcha For Beginners: Buying Matcha
If you’ve tried to buy matcha before you might have noticed that the prices vary… A LOT. It can be quite overwhelming for a beginner to the wonderful world of matcha.
There’s such a variance because there are actually different grades of matcha powder: ceremonial and culinary.
Ceremonial Grade Matcha
Ceremonial grade is the purest and best of its kind. It’s the highest quality Matcha. Its powder is only made from the first two leaves of every plant. And then from those they’re still sifted through to find the best ones.
You’ll notice ceremonial is considerably more expensive. The colour is a nice and vibrant green. The taste is also different. It’s a lot smoother and not as bitter. That’s why this is what’s used for the traditional ceremonies. You typically only use it if you’re drinking it straight. You don’t want to mix this with anything. As a beginner to matcha, you don’t need to buy ceremonial grade, especially if you’re going to be mixing it with milk and honey.
Culinary Grade Matcha
Culinary grade is about half the price of ceremonial, so it’s much more accessible for beginners! It’s darker because it uses the rest of the leaves from the plant. This affects the taste, making it more bitter. It’s typically what’s used for cooking because the complexity of the flavour is lost (P.S. See the best (and worst) flavoured matcha snacks to try!) .
You can still drink culinary grade matcha, you just might have to add some natural sugars, like honey. I use the culinary-grade for everyday use and every once in a while I’ll buy the ceremonial to treat myself. I find the culinary is just a bit earthier tasting. But it makes this habit a lot cheaper.
Beginner’s Guide To Matcha – Always Buy Organic
It’s really important when buying matcha powder to make sure you buy organic. Because you’re ingesting the whole leaf, and it’s from Japan you want to make sure there’s no radiation in it.
If it is possible, you should ask if it’s been radiation tested. But I just go organic. I’ve used Elan Matcha, and was very happy with it. Lately, I’ve been buying my matcha from Tealyra, I find they have a nice variety of quality and price ranges to choose from.
How To Drink Matcha?
You might not think that you need a Matcha guide for how to drink matcha… but think again! It’s more complicated to make than your regular cup of green or black tea…
The Traditional Way
The traditional way to make Matcha is with a specific bamboo whisk (called a chasm) and clay bowl (called a chawan). Just like with green tea you can’t use water that is too hot. The leaves are young so you don’t want to burn them. This will make the tea taste bitter.
The perfect temperature is about 80 degrees Celsius (176 Fahrenheit). I don’t have a temperature kettle so I bring the water to a rolling boil and then let it sit there for about two minutes before pouring it on top. Having the water at the right temperature will bring out the full aromas of the tea.
Quick Links – My Amazon Matcha Favourites
Unconventional Methods – Matcha For Beginners
As a beginner to matcha, you don’t always want to invest until you know you like it. So, I improvised a little when I first started out drinking matcha. The most similar to the traditional method is to use a regular whisk with a cappuccino mug.
But my favourite was to use my T2Tea Matcha Flask. I love this product because it’s simplified the process so much! I know it takes out the traditional value of matcha but now I can easily bring it with me on my commute to work.
It comes with a whisk inside. So I add the powder and a bit of water into the bottle, and then shake it up! It’s as simple as that. Here are some more alternative methods that I use to make matcha at home, and my review on whether buying the bamboo whisk is worthwhile.
Quick Links – My Amazon Matcha Favourites
- Alternative Ways To Make Matcha
- 5 Delicious Summer Matcha Recipes
- The Different Types of Japanese Green Tea
- The Best Matcha Green Tea Flavoured Snacks
- What’s The Difference: Matcha Vs. Green Tea
- Understanding The Different Grades of Matcha: Culinary Vs. Ceremonial