The world has finally seemed to take notice of what the Japanese have known since the beginning of time- green tea is good for you. Not just green tea (although this is fantastic in itself) but Matcha, otherwise known as powdered green tea.
Just as the benefits of green tea are numerous and impressive, Matcha tea is even more so. Why? Because you are consuming the actual leaf of the plant, not just the brewed water. So with Matcha you are receiving 8 to 10 times the antioxidants as regular brewed tea. Matcha is an anti-aging, zen-inducing, mind-enhancing, immune-boosting, and generally beautifying superfood that everyone needs to start consuming en masse.
Enter the lovely Sarah Holloway, creator of Matcha Maiden. Matcha Maiden are purveyors of the fine green stuff and here she discusses with us the many benefits of Matcha and why everyone should begin their day with a cuppa…or two.
- When did you first become acquainted with matcha and why did you become a matcha devotee?
Matcha powder is relatively new to the mainstream market, but it’s actually been around for centuries. It is traditionally consumed as part of the Japanese tea ceremony and Zen Buddhist monks use it in their meditative practices. I first discovered it in its traditional form as a tea when I was on exchange in Japan during high school and have always been a big green tea lover so I adored it straight away. Then, years later, I rediscovered it in a more versatile form when we were travelling in the US and got hooked on matcha smoothies, lattes and desserts popping up all over the place.
When I really became a devotee though was when I moved to Hong Kong for work and for various reasons decided to give up coffee. Suddenly, green tea was my only source of caffeine so my love for matcha doubled! It seems fancy now that it’s a bit of a “buzz word”, but it’s actually simpler than you’d expect - it’s just pure green tea leaves stone ground into a fine powder. The difference with regular green tea is that instead of brewing leaves in hot water then throwing them out, with matcha you consume the whole tea leaf so don’t waste any green goodness! On top of that, matcha tea bushes are grown especially under cover which increases the chlorophyll and amino acid levels in the leaves even further. A healthy caffeine source that also tastes delicious? How could I not be obsessed?
- What do you consider to be the most important health benefits of drinking matcha?
Matcha is basically the health world’s Holy Grail. Because of its concentrated form, Matcha can have the nutritional value of up to 10 cups of regular green tea and up to 137 x the antioxidants of regular green tea!!! I KNOW! Crazy, huh! Regular green tea is consumed for its positive effects on metabolism, energy, focus, immunity, clear skin and generally wellbeing so matcha being more concentrated can have more concentrated results. The most unique benefit of matcha though, which most people find surprising, is that it contains a unique amino acid called L-theanine which makes it much more gentle on the body than other caffeine sources. It contains half the caffeine of coffee so it is still quite strong, but the L-theanine ensures a slow release into the bloodstream meaning you don’t get the crash or jitters associated with coffee. A matcha latte is a caffeine sensitive person’s new best friend! And for those who don’t drink coffee, i.e. myself, it has become an everyday staple!
- Where do you source your matcha and how are growing conditions important for the final product?
We source our matcha from Kyoto, Japan which is renowned for its lush rolling hills and superior quality matcha. There is much cheaper matcha available from China and elsewhere, but the real deal is sourced from Japan so that’s where we wanted to start. Our tea farm is certified organic so free from pesticides and other nasties and our matcha is grown under the careful watch of local experts who we loved spending time with early last year. Interestingly, all green tea leaves are from the same plant but just grown with different amounts of shade etc so the growing conditions are incredibly important!
- How is your particular blend of matcha distinctive and how do you recommend it to be consumed?
Matcha generally comes in two grades – ceremonial or ingredient grade. We wanted to spread the matcha magic as widely as possible and keep it both affordable and accessible, but without sacrificing on quality. So we chose a unique blend that fits neatly in the middle – it’s not ceremonial which is prohibitively expensive and too costly to use daily, but it’s also higher quality than pure ingredient grade as you can enjoy it as a tea if you wish and not just use it in cooking. In that way, it is very unique which I think is why it has grown so quickly. It is also Japanese certified organic and has a unique flavour that can either be emphasized for green tea lovers or masked if you want the benefits without the flavour. So match(a) you can do with it!
The beauty of matcha is that it can literally be added to anything since its simply a powder. Matcha green tea lattes are very popular. My favourite recipe is a green tea smoothie – I use coconut water, a banana, a handful of spinach, chia seeds, some desiccated coconut and a half to one teaspoon of matcha. Our lovely followers are FAR more creative than that though and have come up with everything and everything – bliss balls, raw slices, pancakes, cheesecakes, pesto, salad dressings, green curries, even face masks! Have a look at our instagram (@matcha_maiden) or website (www.matchamaiden.com) for recipe ideas.
- What is next for the Matcha Maiden?
We have been overwhelmed at the rapid growth of our beautiful matcha family, particularly in Australia but also overseas. Our aim is to continue to grow as far and wide as possible but also to always keep that intimate community vibe that we have loved developing – the people element of starting your own business and interacting with customers is one of the most rewarding parts. We also love collaborating because of this people factor, we’ve met so many wonderful people along the way on similar journeys and are always open to making new friends to work with. We’ve got lots of exciting things in the pipeline for this year, so stay tuned!!!