Matcha tea has been popular in the Orient, especially Japan, for hundreds of years. In the last few years, matcha tea in the West can be found in everything from shot glasses in trendy New York eateries to cookies. Matcha tea is much different than the kinds of tea that most North Americans are familiar with.
What Is It, Really?
The word “matcha” does not refer to a specific strain or type of tea. It mean “powdered.” Specifically, it refers to powdered green tea. This means that you drink the powdered tea leaves instead of an infusion made from the leaves in hot water. Because the tea leaves are finely powdered, the resulting drink is a smooth liquid. Traditionally, matcha tea is whisked to a bright green froth with a bamboo whisk, but that’s not necessary to enjoy drinking matcha tea.
Matcha tea is the tea used in the elaborate and elegant Japanese tea ceremony, which is first recorded in the ninth century. Today, tea ceremonies can last up to four hours, but these ceremonies usually include guests and a meal. Powdered tea became the preferred type of tea in Japan because it was less likely to spoil than tea leaves. As long as the matcha powder is kept cool and try, matcha tea can last for months.
Many Uses for Matcha Tea
Matcha tea powder is far more versatile in the kitchen than ordinary green tea leaves. Because it’s a powder, this makes it easy to add to shakes and dessert recipes. Sweets improved with matcha tea powder include ice cream, cookies, cakes, candies, muffins, puddings and sweet dips or icings. Matcha tends to turn any recipe a bright grassy green or paler shades of green. This may look different but it tastes great. Some people also like to use matcha in soups, sauces and marinades.
Matcha powder is usually sold unsweetened. Always double-check the packaging or manufacturer’s notes to make sure it is unsweetened if using in food recipes. For beverages like lattes, smoothies or a good cup of hot tea, add a favored sweetener like brown sugar, stevia or honey. Match usually contains caffeine as well as antioxidants.