I had an extravagant passion for teas when I was in elementary and intermediate school. I didn’t stand milk, I found it sickening. Instead, I was in love with tea and I can’t help collecting those loose in the Twining’s cans. Besides the unmissable “English Breakfast”, I wasn’t able to separate from my beloved “Jasmine” and from the classic “Earl Grey”, my favorite, I must say. Then in 2000, the green tea came. Most of my girlfriends were crazy about it and about its supposed healthy virtues. However, that wasn’t my cup of tea. I didn’t really like the bitter, stinging taste. Between 2006 and 2008, matcha became popular. As a good follower of fancy food bloggers, I noticed matcha recipes popping everywhere: matcha cookies, matcha cakes, matcha lattes and so on. After a few years (in 2012, to be precise), I tried my first matcha latte...no bad! And now, finally, I decided to write something about that...yessss, now that the trend is almost over (well done Luci, always up to date :P).
What is matcha
It is a high-quality green tea, used for the Japanese tea ceremonies. This type of tea is grown in shade for a certain period. In that way, the leaves increase the production of chlorophyll and get an intense deep green color. The tea is then dried, still protected from direct light beams, and the veins and stems are then removed. The grinding is performed slowly to avoid damaging the product or triggering oxidative reactions that might compromise the quality.
Types of matcha
We find mostly three types, whose difference lies in the degree of quality.
In general, the highest-quality leaves are used to produce the ceremonial matcha, the most exquisite. There are then intermediate and low-quality types, the latter used mostly for cooking. The low-quality grade matcha has a green-brownish color, due to oxidative reactions.
Personally, I use matcha mostly for cooking, so I buy the low-grade one (I might look cheap, but I do see why I have to spend a fortune in a high-quality matcha to use it to make a pudding :P).
The healthy corner
I do not believe in superfoods. But matcha became very popular also thanks to its supposed healthy virtues. More precisely, matcha is rich in antioxidant and vitamin A. However, according to a systematic review of Cochrane, there is no consensus on the beneficial effects of antioxidants. Long story short, we still do not know if antioxidants are good for us or not.
So, for the time being I use the matcha just as an interesting ingredient for my recipes. Matcha brings a unique flavor and is a good food coloring agent. By the way, do not miss Friday’s post for the first recipe with matcha.
G. Bjelakovic, Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases, Cochrane Systematic Review (2012)