Matcha as a world health staple is nothing new. In the last few years, everywhere you look, influencers, healthcare professionals and maybe your BFF are running around town with matcha drinks. So what is the deal? You have to admit that even if you’ve never tried it, it looks absolutely delicious. Milky blue color, smooth, cool shade extremely attractive. It’s about time we got to the bottom of this phenomenon, so we tapped a whole host of experts to give us the scoop on the best matcha around.
Our collective matcha obsession knows no bounds, which is why we spoke with food and beverage experts and matcha aficionados to understand what makes it so special. should be special. As it turns out, we have much learn. Matcha lovers have strong opinions and luckily, they are sharing their secrets with us.
Different matcha powders are better suited to specific tastes and needs. You’ll want to mix it up depending on whether you want to drink it straight, enjoy it in a smoothie, crave a latte, or just get started and wet your toes in the wonderful world of matcha.
Featured image of Kristen Kilpatrick.
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What is Matcha?
Matcha is a powder made from very fine green tea leaves. The vibrant bright green powder is whisked into hot water, then you can add milk as you like or leave it on. Not only is it visually appealing, but its distinct taste and various health benefits have helped fuel its recent popularity.
Like green tea, matcha is high in catechins called EGCGs, which studies have shown have numerous health benefits, including helping to prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and weight loss. It is also rich in chlorophyll, antioxidants and amino acids. But most people are in it for taste and ritual.
Although it has less caffeine than a regular cup of coffee, matcha is still a caffeinated beverage. It is not necessarily a suitable substitute for people who are sensitive to caffeine. The difference is that matcha’s noise lasts longer, is more energetic, and has a more pronounced harmonic texture.
Professional pastry chef and baker Alexei Keats loves both its versatility and impact. He told us, “matcha not only has a distinctive flavor and sweetness that can be used in a variety of drinks, cakes and other delicious dishes, but it also makes a statement.” Another devout matcha-obsessed, Val Snow, Assistant General Manager at Jolene in New York City, notes that she is fascinated by the complexity of flavors. She loves that it has a grassy mouthfeel and is very melty but also incredibly subtle.
Ceremonial Class vs Culinary Class
You will find that for the most part, matcha is divided into two categories: ceremonial type and food grade. Not only can you drink it, but depending on the type of matcha you buy you can cook with it. Keats explains that culinary-grade matcha is the best matcha for cooking and baking. It usually has a very fine grind, blends well, and retains its color and flavor even when baked at high temperatures.
As Vanessa Proctor Wall explains, if you’re looking to drink matcha, what you want is a ceremonial-grade powder. Proctor Wall runs operations at some of Los Angeles’ most popular restaurants, such as Son of a Gun, Jon & Vinny’s, and Petit Trois. She started drinking matcha over a decade ago, and shares that as she began experimenting with and moving through different levels of matcha, she fell in love with the earthy umami flavors in ceremonial-grade matcha.
“When I moved to the ceremonial level, I realized that like any other tea, matcha can take on so many flavors. Some are buttery and rich, some are more bubbly than others, and you can really see how a certain variety might be better suited for a certain application, such as brewing coffee. “
Keats added that when you want a matcha latte, you’ll want to using ceremonial grade matcha is at least as good as powdered powder, if not finer. The finer the grind, the easier it will be for the tea to blend into your milk and leave you satisfied, not gritty like poorly ground tea.
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This post was originally published on August 20, 2021, and has since been updated.