The great British cuppa, a staple for many every morning and throughout the day (even with the rise of coffee). So, what about when the tea is green?
Based primarily in Devon, we are lucky to have so many fantastic companies working in the south west and from time to time we may meet up and share ideas. Earlier in the year we met up with Leane at Kineta Tea, who told us all about their business and the benefits of Matcha Green tea which is packed with antioxidants. We were intrigued and thought that we would try it out.
Leane gave us a crash course in preparing Matcha properly and suggested we try it for a few weeks and see what we thought.
So, what is Matcha?
A green tea which is increasingly becoming more and more popular that is packed with antioxidants and is said to perk you up due to its high caffeine levels, this is because the whole leaf is consumed, unlike other green teas. As well as the traditional tea which we tried, it can be found in cake shops up and down the country being added to Granola, ice cream, cakes, macarons and in its own distinct latte.
Matcha was introduced to Japan by Buddhist monks who had visited china, and it eventually became a key part of the Japanese tea culture being used in the Chanoyu tea ceremony.
The distinctive bright green colour is a result of an increase in Chlorophyll production by artificially shading the plants a few weeks before harvesting. Only the best quality tea plants are selected to become matcha and the production process is a little time consuming with the leaf buds being picked, steamed, dried and the stems and veins removed. These leaves are then milled into a fine powder which can take an hour for a pot of Matcha to be produced.
There are several grades of Matcha, ‘confectioners’ which is used with food, ‘Usucha’ which is widely available, and ‘Koicha’ which is more the ceremonial grade.
How do you prepare it?
Matcha is pretty easy to prepare, if you’d like to create your own little tea ceremony then you can purchase a little scoop (Chashaku), a whisk (called a Chasen) and a cereal bowl (Chawan). A teaspoon is fine though and a normal little whisk.
You will need about ½ to 1 tsp of Usucha grade matcha Powder and around 150ml of water heated to 75c. Place the powder into your bowl with a little of the hot water and whisk into a thick paste, then add the remaining water and whisk briskly in a “W” shape until the tea is smooth and frothy. You can then drink it from the bowl or cup and add other ingredients of your choice.
What does it taste like?
For us it tasted a bit like grass. Not unpleasant or too bitter, it’s an acquired taste I would say but then you can mix it with other flavours to help. We have tried it with Apple juice, Ginger, pineapple and cranberry juice, it will make the drink an odd muddy colour, but perfectly nice to drink.
So, what did we think?
The team tried it for a few weeks stopping at around 10am each day to have a cup together and making sure people had enough to do on the weekends. While there was nothing specifically noticeable across the team, there was a general feeling that it was doing something and the afternoons were flying by!
So while we are a little sceptical about the aid to concentration and energy boosting properties, one of the BAM team members decided to take some Matcha tea home to try with his wife who suffers from ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis).
ME is a long term, chronic condition that effects around 250k people in the UK effecting the nervous and immune systems. People with M.E. experience debilitating pain, fatigue and a range of other symptoms associated with post-exertional malaise, the body and brain’s inability to recover after expending even small amounts of energy. (Source: http://www.actionforme.org.uk)
Symptoms can vary from one extreme to another and can affect people with ME in different ways, but after 2 weeks of trying Matcha, there seemed to be a positive boost with the only change in routine and diet being the introduction of Matcha.
We have tried many things over the years to help keep on top of ME, we had not come across Matcha in this context before and thought why not. We added half a teaspoon to cranberry juice every morning. It turns it an interesting muddy brown colour but tastes no real difference after adding it. It’s been very hot recently which normally saps strength and concentration (to all I am sure, not just those with ME), whether it’s all down to the Matcha I am not 100% but certainly I seem to not of flagged during the day as much as normal, which is a positive, so at least for now we will keep trying the Matcha” ?