The Greatest Green Drink: Matcha

I’m so excited to turn my calendar over from February to March tomorrow…

20 days til spring!

This means it won’t be long until we start seeing GREEN everywhere.   While I love seeing green in nature, I don’t love seeing fake-green drinks that come out in celebration of St Patrick’s Day.  No Shamrock Shakes or green beer on this dietitian’s blog.

Instead I’ve got something just as green, but more delicious and most definitely more nutritious. Matcha!

matcha cup2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matcha is green tea– but not like the green tea most of us are used to.  You don’t steep it; it doesn’t involve a tea bag.  It is finely ground Japanese green tea leaves that you dissolve into hot water and drink.  It’s perfect for when you want something with a little more body and depth than regular tea.  You get all the health benefits of green tea…multiplied.

There are traditional ways of making a cup of matcha that involve a bamboo scoop and whisk:

bamboo

 

 

 

 

I don’t have these things but I’ve created my own tradition:                                                 What I love to do is blend up 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of matcha with 2-3 tablespoons of coconut milk, 1 medjool date and about a cup or so of hot water.   The Vitamix smoothly incorporates everything and leaves a little frothy top layer.                                                   Tip:  Use the thick coconut milk from a can, not the thinned out drinkable type.

matcha cup

 

Isn’t it gorgeous?!

Matcha tea leaves are shade-grown resulting in more chlorophyll than regular green tea and a brighter green hue.

 

 

 

Matcha isn’t cheap but it’s an indulgence that I think is worth it.  The first time I ever had matcha was while visiting Seattle about 10 years ago.  They had it in a cafe and I fell in love with its richness and flavor.  Back in RI I could only find one brand at Whole Foods and it was this tiny container for something like $25– I don’t remember exactly but I do know I didn’t buy it and then unfortunately forget about it for years.  Now, there are several tea brands that sell matcha and it’s not quite as pricey.

This is the one I have from The Republic of Tea:

U-Matcha can

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now for what you’ve all been waiting for….the health benefits of matcha!  It’s more potent than your usual green tea.  Because you are ingesting the whole, ground tea leaf rather than steeped tea leaves, you are going to get more of the nutrients found in tea:

  • L-theanine (an amino acid):  Can help with focus and concentration while also promoting a sense of calm.  Think of monks drinking green tea and meditating.  🙂
  • Antioxidants:  Contributes to combating inflammation and oxidation.
  • EGCG: A phytochemical that is associated with a decreased incidence of many types of cancer and also supports brain and heart health.
  • Caffeine:  Less than in a cup of coffee and with the combination of the L-theanine promotes a calm-alertness and mental clarity.

There are SO many health reasons to drink green tea…plus it can be a super mood booster.  I can’t think of any benefits to the Shamrock Shake unless you’re looking for 820 extra calories with no nutritional value included.  115 grams of sugar?!?!  In case you have never thought about what exactly is in a Shamrock Shake and are curious,  please take a look here.

And if you absolutely MUST have green beer for St. Patrick’s day:  Avoid the artificial food dyes and try one of these 5 Peculiar (and natural!) Ways to Turn Your Beer Green  from TIME– number 3 being matcha!

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