Matcha: Danielle Sikorski, registered dietitian
Matcha: The Cup of Green Goodness
Coffee used to be the first thing that I reached for in the mornings. As soon as I’d wake up, I’d head right to the kitchen where my coffee maker was already prepped with the ground beans and a sprinkle of cinnamon. All I had to do was push the start button. Unfortunately, as I became more in tune with my many food sensitivities and allergies, I noticed that every time I drank coffee, severe body pain followed. As with my other food-loves that I eventually I had to surrender, I was very stubborn and prolonged the break-up process. In the end, I decided that the discomfort wasn’t worth the momentary satisfaction and so I said goodbye to my beloved coffee maker and the comforting morning ritual.
I decided to embark on a mission to find an adequate replacement.
I tried black teas, bagged green teas, chai, you name it –but they just didn’t cut it. Then, while wandering around a Japanese Market in L.A., I stumbled across a small tin container with letters foreign to me. I inquired about it and the owner told me that it was “matcha,” a powdered green tea. She informed me that it’s been used for centuries by Buddhist monks and Samurai warriors to prepare for meditation and improve mental clarity thanks to a brain-boosting, stress-reducing combo of amino acid and L-Theanine. She said that she loved it and drank it every day. I was interested and decided to give it a try.
I’m not going to lie…I was NOT a fan at first. Matcha has a very strong, slightly bitter taste. My husband described it as “spinachy.” That is a pretty accurate description. However, that’s when the matcha was mixed with just hot water. I quickly learned that mixing a little steamed coconut milk to my matcha tea made it creamy and delicious. For those who prefer sweeter teas, add a teaspoon of honey or a little stevia.
There is a reason why I continued to find ways to make matcha tasty.
It isn’t just any old tea. It is a bright green cup brimming with nutrients! In traditional green tea, the tea leaves are steeped in hot water before being discarded. With matcha, the tea is ground into powder and mixed with hot water. As a result, the leaves are consumed in their entirety. Traditionally, all you need is a teaspoon of matcha powder mixed with one third of a cup hot water (heated to less than a boil).
So, what makes it great?
You’ve probably seen EGCG added to a variety of health drinks. EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) is a catechin, a very powerful antioxidant that has reported benefits of fighting cancer by protecting cells from DNA damage and inhibiting tumor cell proliferation. It also has reported benefits of combating viruses and heart disease. According to Medical News Today, one cup of matcha tea has the antioxidant power equivalent to 10 cups of brewed green tea and approximately 15 times the amount of antioxidants of pomegranates or blueberries.
Studies show that green tea has cardiovascular benefits as well. Matcha is a concentrated form of green, so these benefits can be associated with matcha as well. A 2006 study published in JAMA consumption found that participants who drank at least 5 cups of green tea per day had a significantly lower risk of dying (especially from cardiovascular disease) than those who drank less than one cup of tea per day.
Another study found that consuming 10 cups of green tea per day can lower total cholesterol, however, consuming 4 cups or less had no effect on cholesterol levels. Moreover, it is an excellent source of polyphenols, vitamin c, fiber and chlorophyll.
Are any of those benefits inspiring you to try it? If not, here’s a benefit that I’m sure we could all use. It helps combat stress. When we are stressed, beta waves create an agitated state in our brain. L-Theanine, an amino acid found in matcha, creates alpha waves which counteract beta waves. Alpha waves lead to a state of relaxed alertness and promote a state of relaxation and well-being.
Medical News Today reports that though L-Theanine is common in all tea, matcha contains five times the amount of L-Theanine that is found in black and green teas. Moreover, L-Theanine may help memory and learning ability, due to its ability to reduce distracting information, improving performance on cognitive tasks.
It can be pretty pricey in grocery stores, so I purchase One Organic Matcha Tea from amazon.com. Before making the investment, you can try it out at Starbucks! Just order a Matcha Tea Latte with your milk of choice. Be sure to have it unsweetened though. Add your own stevia or 1-2 tsp of honey if you’d like.
So…should you drink it?
If after you try it you like it then absolutely! The antioxidants found in matcha, such as polyphenols and catechins are associated with health benefits and therefore, it can be a great addition to your healthy diet. Don’t think that this can undo a poor diet though. Also, be weary of health claims indicating that green tea will boost metabolism, burn fat and lead to drastic weight loss. If you’re not eating a balanced diet of lean proteins, plenty of fruits and veggies, healthy fats and complex carbs, tea won’t be your savior!
Here are some different ways to try matcha if you’re not a tea fan or if you’d like to experience its benefits in more ways than one! It’s a natural way to color your foods for St. Patrick’s Day without adding food dye!
Matcha Green Tea Pancakes (Gluten-Free)
Antioxidant-rich matcha is the perfect accompaniment to your morning meal. These green tea pancakes will even win over the pickiest of children, who won’t be able to resist the cool green color. They won’t know they’re eating something so healthy! Pancakes are hearty and filling enough to keep you going until lunch. If you’re short on time, substitute your favorite maple syrup for the yogurt topping.
- 1 1/2 cups almond milk (or any milk of choice)
- 2 cups brown rice flour
- 1 egg (* sub 1 tbsp ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp warm water for egg-free version)
- 3 tbsp unrefined sugar (optional)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
- 2 tbsp matcha green tea powder
- 2 tbsp hemp protein powder (can sub any protein powder of choice vanilla or unflavored OR use 2 tbsp flour)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp butter, plus more as needed
Optional Toppings (see recipe for how to incorporate)
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/4 cup walnuts
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1/4 cup banana chips
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/4 cup golden raisins
- In a small bowl, mix together all of the topping ingredients, except the Greek yogurt. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the egg, milk, sugar and coconut oil. With a wire whisk, mix until combined. Add the brown rice flour, matcha green tea powder, hemp powder and baking powder. Mix until you obtain a homogeneous mixture.
- Melt the butter in a large cast iron skillet or griddle over medium heat. To make a pancake, ladle about 1/3 cup of the batter onto the skillet. Pour enough batter to make 1 or 2 more pancakes at a time, taking care to keep them evenly spaced apart.
- Cook until bubbles break the surface of the pancakes and the sides are golden brown, about 2-3 minutes. With a spatula, flip the pancake and cook 1-2 minutes more on the other side. Transfer them to a platter and cover loosely with foil to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining batter, adding more butter to the skillet as needed.
- To assemble the pancakes, place them on a serving plate and add a dollop of Greek yogurt to each pancake followed by 1-2 tablespoons of the nut mixture. Drizzle 1-2 tablespoons of syrup over the nuts and serve while the pancakes are still warm.
- If you’d prefer not to add the topping, serve with fresh berries!
Note: You can freeze cooked pancakes for up to 2 months.
Vanilla Matcha Protein Smoothie from Daily Burn
Total time: 5 minutes
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
2 scoops (or 1 serving) Vanilla Protein Powder
1/2 cup ice
2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
Fresh vanilla bean, scraped from 1 inch of a pod (optional)
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.
Matcha Muffins from guiltykitchen.com
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Yield: 12 muffins
Colorful and full of protein, fiber and antioxidants, matcha muffins will brighten your day!
- 3/4 cup coconut flour, sifted
- 1/4 cup arrowroot flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 3 tbsp matcha green tea powder
- 2 tbsp coconut sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2/3 cup egg whites
- 3 tbsp maple syrup
- Juice of one lemon (about 2-3 tbsp)
- 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup plain 0% Greek yogurt
- 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin with non-stick liners.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flours, salt, baking soda, matcha powder, and coconut sugar.
- In a separate, larger bowl, beat the wet ingredients until frothy.
- Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and stir to combine.
- Measure out equally into tins and bake in preheated oven for 20-22 minutes. Muffins are done when a toothpick inserted into the center, comes out clean.
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