Matcha, which directly translates to ‘powdered tea’ in Japanese, found its roots over one thousand years ago, when Japanese monks would consume the beverage, to maintain calm during meditation practice. In modern Japan, matcha, at the center tea ceremonies, continues to reflect Zen culture. It's also an incredibly popular ingredient in Japanese cooking classes in Sydney. Its signature green colour is the result of the slow growth of the leaves under shade, thus obtaining a greater chlorophyll density. Once harvested, the leaves are ground into fine powder, combined with hot water and whisked with a bamboo brush or ‘chasen’ to make tea.
Garnering the attention of superfood lovers and others alike, matcha can be found in a slew of sweet and savoury dishes, from muffins to guacamole, the green powder is known to boost mental wellbeing, weight loss and even fight cancer, Alzheimers and dementia.
Facts about matcha
When consumed daily, matcha supports the immune system, sustaining your body’s antioxidant levels. Its unique class of antioxidants ‘catechins’, specifically ‘epigallocatechin’ (EGC), can ward off agents which damage cell DNA, and thus reduce chance of cancer, and help fend of the signs of ageing. According to a study conducted by Tufts University, its high antioxidant level of 1573 units is far above food such as blueberries (93) and broccoli (31).
Matcha promotes longer-term, sustainable energy. The drink lets you skip past coffee jitters, delivering natural caffeine throughout the body over a 6-8-hour period. L-Theanine amino acid found in matcha increases dopamine levels and boosts serotonin, enhances focus, balances your mood and reduces stress.
Alongside detoxifying and rebooting internal processes, matcha improves your outer appearance. One spoon of Matcha tea powder is equal to 10 cups of green tea per day, vastly lowering cholesterol and blood pressure and boosting weightloss. The powder inhibits cell degeneration responsible for wrinkles, skin cancer, loss of collagen and skin elasticity.
Matcha meals to try
Topping countless meal variations, matcha lattes are likely the most common and popular form. In a fresh, yet complex process, lattes comprise of matcha powder, milk and sometimes a sweetener. Added to smoothies, ice-creams and pancakes – its natural bright green aesthetic is favoured among chefs and health-enthusiasts alike. The green hues are refined on social media where one can scroll through hundreds of photos featuring innovative matcha recipes under the hashtag #matcha; crepes, fudge and green granola included. Japanese foods including rice, green-tea ice-cream or mochi also incorporate matcha.
To harness the best quality of matcha, the degree of grade, from cooking to ceremonial must be taken into consideration. Ceremonial graded matcha is usually representative of the region it came from, the amount of time the tea spent in shade before harvest, among other factors. Alternatively, cooking grade matcha is commonly used to produce sweeter cafe drinks. Indicators of ceremonial grade are colour: fluorescent as opposed to moss green and flavouring: slightly bitter with a refreshing grassy taste.
When not prepared with care, matcha can lose its nutritional properties. And to maximise and neutralise matcha’s antioxidants, various ingredient pairings help to increase its properties such as citrus from lemon, promoting absorption. Vitamin C perfectly compliments matcha’s grassy notes. Typical Japanese desserts such as yoghurt: to balancing out bitter flavours or chewy, sweet mochi: to add a layer of texture to compliment matcha.
Learn to use matcha
Learn how to harness matcha’s best qualities under the expertise of a professional chef. Cook delectable matcha dishes in Matcha Lovers High Tea workshop alongside chef Yoshiko Takeuchi. Dip your fingers in coconut fudge, make two-colour mocha balls with yuzu and matcha an-paste and cold soba with matcha broth.
Yoshiko holds over ten years to her name as a qualified chef, frequenting Sydney’s top kitchens and working alongside professionals including Tetsuya Wakuda. Dedicated to cooking healthily, she states: “I want all my students glow with confidence, energy and healthy beauty.” Yoshiko’s Japanese influenced vegetarian and vegan meals, aim to do just that.
Observe Yoshiko’s detailed and easy-to-follow demonstrations, following hands-on practice. Sip on a yuzu matcha mocktail and organic matcha green tea. Take home practical and appetising recipes to replicate at home and incorporate into future meals. Take control of your relationship to food and echo Yoshiko’s philosophy of taking onboard a healthy and enriching lifestyle.