Matcha

Tim drinks green tea, 175 degrees water poured over a tea bag with cut up green leaves. I drink  16 ounces of warm soy milk with matcha, green tea leaves milled into fine powder. After drinking his tea, Tim throws out the tea leaves. I, in a sense, eat them.

Couple of weeks ago at Starbucks, I suggested to my friend, Maryann, she try a green tea soy latte instead of her usual coffee. “What is that?” her voice full of doubt. Every time I’ve suggested this drink, it’s met with suspicion. Usually, I buy it for my friends over their objections and then they feel obliged to at least try it. It could be the name, green tea soy latte, or it could be that I flood out so many ideas to friends that their automatic response is to resist.

Sitting across from me, Maryann took a careful sip, looked surprised and said, “This is good!” She’s right. It is. Matcha gives a pleasant sense of what’s best described as “alert calmness.”

After introducing many friends to green tea lattes–my friend Ruth was so enthusiastic that she bought a milk frothier– that I set out to confirm how healthy the drink is. I know that whole food is better than extracted food like oranges and orange juice. But is that true for tea leaves? Or is tea like bananas, you should not eat the outer covering, only the extracted food or nutrients within?

The verdict from a published report is that between the two, Japanese green tea and Japanese matcha, the latter takes first spot. “You’ll get about two to three times more EGCG (antioxidants) from matcha” than from regular green tea, says Tod Cooperman, president of ConsumerLab.com, of White Plains, N.Y.

Matcha tea is one of the biggest culinary successes of the last decade. Compared to power drinks and other advertised as good-for-you drinks, matcha leads the pack.

However, there is information about green tea that calls to be included. When Consumer Labs tested some popular green teas, it found that they had high amounts of lead. But before you worry too much about drinking green tea, 90% of the lead stays in the tea leaves.  When it comes to matcha, it is worth the effort to be discriminating. Here is what you need to know: Green Tea

  • Stick with matcha teas grown in Japan. The regions in Japan with the highest quality are Kyushu, Nishio, Shizuoka, and Uji. If the green powder does not come from Japan, it’s not matcha.
  • High quality matcha is bright green with a fine powdery consistency.
  • Expect to pay $6 to $32 for about an ounce.
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