Living as an expat can help even the pickiest of eaters become a little more adventurous. Living in Singapore, especially, spoils us with fantastic food from all over the globe. As much as I hate the term, it’s difficult to not become a bit of a “foodie” while traipsing from hawker stand to five-star posh hotel dining.
So, it stands to reason that we should be on the cutting edge of food trends. From chia seeds to juicing to …, catching the latest train to food trend city can do wonders for your street cred. In case you haven’t heard, the latest is matcha.
I recently saw an Instagram post about this greenish/brown hot beverage (photos don’t make it appear particularly appetizing). If it’s on Instagram then you know it’s THE thing to drink right now. Remember when everyone was posting their #juicing creations? So…are you drinking matcha?
What is it?
Powdered green tea. It might appear that matcha is to green tea what Nescafe is to coffee. But according to Time magazine, matcha is actually a purer form of green tea leaves. The leaves have been ground down into a fine powder. A regular cup of green tea steeps the flavor and nutrients from the leaves but ultimately, the leaves are discarded and not consumed.
So it must be healthier than regular green tea?
I’m not doctor but because you are actually ingesting the goodness of the green tea leaves it would seem you are getting all the benefits in a more concentrated form. Matcha Source boasts that one cup of matcha contains as many antioxidants as 10 (TEN!) cups of brewed green tea. Move over Chia seeds!
So then it must have crazy amounts of jitter-inducing caffeine that will completely destroy my sleep patterns?
Not exactly. Although Time magazine reports, “you may get three times as much caffeine than a cup of steeped tea, about the amount in a cup of brewed coffee” (5 April 2015). Matcha afficiandos claim it is the amino acid L-theanine, that has more of an impact on your energy levels. Matcha Source claims L-theanine “promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by acting upon the brains functioning.” In fact, it was originally used as an aid to meditation.
Additionally, proponents of matcha claim it can help boost metabolism and burn calories, prevent diseases like heart disease and cancer, lower cholesterol and has anti-aging properties.
The combination of all the superfood nutrients in Matcha will increase your energy levels, awareness and concentration, all while getting you closer to zen.
I’m sold! Wait…
How does it taste?
While this is entirely subjective, if you subscribe to the “if it’s good for you, it can’t taste very good” mantra, then you make the appropriate assumptions. Using my Google based research, it’s been described as “grass-like,” “spinach-y”, “with a strong vegetable taste,” and the particularly helpful, “complex.”
Matcha Source describes it taste: “Chlorophyll and amino acids give matcha its unique rich taste, an initial vegetal, astringent taste, followed by a lingering sweetness.”
Like all incredibly good for you foods that are gaining popularity, people have discovered adding more sugar can make it palatable. People warn that the sweeter the taste, the less likely you are getting authentic matcha. While it does have a bit of a sweet taste to it, producers are trying to mix it with additives and sugars and package it as the real thing – essentially becoming the Milo of cocoa powder.
If you really don’t like the drink…
You can still get all the benefits of matcha by using it as an ingredient in everything from baked goods to juices to soups and stir-frys.
Sound too good to be true?
One small, minor, issue to be aware of – it may contain high amounts of lead. Time magazine reports, all green teas contain lead, but in brewed teas, 90% of the lead stays in the leaves. Because matcha is the ground leaves, you are consuming more lead. So limit your intake. “One independent group, ConsumerLab.com recommend drinking no more than one cup daily, and not serving it to children.” (Time Magazine, 5 April, 2015).
Now you know. Although, in the name of transparency, I’ve heard Some Starbuck’s locations are already selling…perhaps this the end of the trend?
Ready for more superfoods? Read on!
By Kathleen Siddell, The Finder