Ah, matcha... although it's trendy these days, and I've heard many a tea connoisseur claim to have been 'the one' to introduce it to North America, from Japan... (At this point after hearing it from the fifth person, I still politely say 'Congrats to you!' - haha - you never know! It takes a village)... but I do love a good bowl of matcha... particularly as it lends nicely to my meditation practice.
An increasingly popular drink, the marketing push around matcha revolutionized the Western latté landscape, as a caffeinated alternative to coffee. Tea in general, has the unique amino acid L-theanine, which creates beneficial alpha waves in the brain. (Read, chill-out mode!) So coupled with caffeine, a calm state of awareness is achievable... rather than, well, a pure expresso jolt! Now, I do love a good cup of Jo, but I can't possibly indulge in a cup more than once a week - I'm wired enough, thanks to modern tech, and being a keep-calm toddler-mom! And matcha itself, is particularly dense in L-theanine, due to the dozen days (give or take) where it is shaded during the tencha tea leave's growth. This process slows down photosynthesis and increases amino acid production, creating the balanced umami taste that so many of us know and love matcha for. On top of that, matcha is nutrient rich, has got EGCg (a renowned catechin), and it is chock full of antioxidants. Traditionally, it is prepared in a chawan (a Japanese bowl), by using a Chasan to whisk the tea powder into warm water. I like to drink mine with homemade hemp milk*, for an added healthy boost!
If you'd like matcha recommendations, I'll start by saying that a darker green colored matcha generally means it is of good quality. The lighter green ones, I'm sorry to tell you, are not real matcha! Just ask my tea teacher, Roy Fong, over at Imperial Tea. He'll tell you what's up... Any case, a few of my fave resources for matcha include Kyoto-based Ippodo... And then, stateside here in the US, I do enjoy the Los Angeles cafe Shuhari, and NYC Chalait. And if you happen to be in New York, and if you care to further your knowledge of Japanese tea tradition, check out Globus Washitsu, where you can experience the art of a ceremony for yourself.
Finally, to all my fellow pachamamas out there who need a boost to combat sleep deprivation (yet a balanced one, to keep calm!)... amidst toddler tantrums or teenage years... this tea's for you. And to all the lovers out there... whisk it real good, okay?
*Wanna make your own hemp milk? Do you own a Vitamix or NutriBullet or something like that? Well then, easy tiger, put a couple cups of water and a handful of hemp seeds into your mixer, whizz it for a minute, and then store in your refrigerator - I like to repurpose glass bottles from other beverages.