Katie's Healthy Bites: What is Matcha?

Matcha is finely ground whole green tea leaves, traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Find out how you can use this nutrient-rich form of tea.
What is matcha?

Matcha is finely ground whole green tea leaves, traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies.

What are its health benefits?

When you drink matcha you consume the entire tea leaf, unlike traditional teas in which the leaves are steeped. Whole leaves means more nutrient density, plus the benefits of fiber. Matcha contains polyphenols (antioxidant compounds), and research has shown that polyphenols aid in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. Drinking matcha is also believed to help relieve tension and stress, as well as improve concentration and mental focus.

Where to buy matcha?

Matcha is now sold commercially in the United States, and is available in its traditional powdered form. Many specialty food stores have begun to sell it along side their other green teas. Look for matcha with a rich green color and vibrant aroma to ensure freshness. It is slightly more expensive than traditional green teas.

Use and storage:

For optimum freshness, matcha should be stored in the freezer in an air tight container.

Matcha is brewed differently then tradition green tea leaves that are steeped. If previously frozen,  it should be set out to thaw to room temperature. In all cases put the tea through a fine sieve to remove any clumps. Warm, not boiling, water is then added to the powder and whisked to a uniform consistency. In a traditional preparation, no milk or sugar should be added.

Looking to get creative? Matcha has several less traditional uses in the kitchen. You can add matcha to yogurt, smoothies even marinades or glazes.  It makes a tasty and antioxidant-rich ice cream or frozen yogurt. The powdered green tea is a great flavoring tool for grains and rice and can be added directly to the cooking liquid. Matcha has been used recently as a tasty addition to baked goods like brownies and cakes as well.

Dinner Tonight:

Poach salmon in water flavored with fresh ginger, lemongrass or lemon zest and matcha powder

Do you use matcha?

Katie Cavuto Boyle, MS, RD, is a registered dietitian, personal chef and owner of HealthyBites, LLC. See Katie's full bio »

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