A Healthy New Habit

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Most people like to drink coffee in the morning, and although I was never a big fan of coffee I finally learned to like it when I was well into my twenties and living in Melbourne where it isn’t hard to find a decent latte! However, it turns out I’m very sensitive to caffeine and drinking it makes my heart beat uncomfortably fast, keeps me up at night and even makes me feel anxious. 

So I quickly limited my intake to one cup in the morning. When I got pregnant with Lana one of my worst pregnancy aversions was coffee and I was put off by it until Lana was born, or even longer actually. I slowly started drinking decaf and thought it tasted just as nice, if not even nicer. Plus I discovered the AMAZING Oatly Barista Oat Milk – a much better alternative to milk. When I fell pregnant with Maya I again couldn’t stand the taste or smell of coffee and went tee total for another year or so. At the moment I have decaf coffee around 4 times per week, but only with the barista oat milk – probably the only reason I still have coffee now to be honest!

Decaf coffee has a little bit of caffeine in it, but doesn’t pick me up in the mornings. With Maya waking me up more and more in the nights (at the moment she’s waking up and staying up for an hour or so up to two times per night – in addition to just waking up and having milk and going straight back to bed) I do feel like I need something to make me feel human in the mornings, and I think I’ve found the perfect solution: matcha!

Haha that turned into quite a long introduction! I’ve heard about, and even tried matcha latte before, but have to admit I did not know much about this powerful drink before Moya Matcha kindly sent me their beautiful Premium Ceremonial set and I got really inspired and started reading up about it. And obviously drinking it! I’ve had matcha first thing in the morning for several weeks now and I’m loving the effect it has on me. It is a great alternative to coffee. It contains caffeine and makes me feel alert straight away but gives me none of the side effects coffee would give me. How amazing is that?!

Anyway, if you, like me, don’t know much about this very trendy drink with a long history: keep reading!

What is matcha?

Matcha is basically powdered green tea. The difference is that when drinking matcha, you consume the whole leaf with all its amino acids, minerals, vitamins, fibres and antioxidants – making it a lot healthier option to regular green tea. I think it’s the only tea where you ingest the whole leaf actually. Farming of the matcha tea leaves is different as they are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest and the stems and veins are removed in processing. During shaded growth the plant produces more theanine and caffeine. Theanine stimulates the emission of alpha waves in the brain, which affect our mood and evoke a feeling of relaxation and tranquillity, without causing drowsiness.

Where does matcha come from?

Matcha can be traced all the way back to the Tang Dynasty in China, but it didn’t become popular until the 12th century when a Japanese Buddhist monk, Myōan Eisai/Yōsai, brought it to Japan. He is actually credited with the beginning of the tea tradition in Japan by bringing green tea seeds back from China – along with the Zen Buddhist methods of preparing powdered green tea. Eisai noticed that drinking matcha improved his meditation sessions by producing a state of calm alertness. Now you see where the name Moya Matcha comes from!

What does matcha taste like?

I have to admit I have never been a fan of green tea – but on the other hand I don’t know if I have ever had really high quality green tea either. During the past few weeks I’ve been having the premium ceremonial matcha, which is the highest quality organic matcha made from the youngest and finest leaves of the first harvest. The high quality matcha has a very vibrant green colour, whereas matcha of lesser quality is more of a dull, yellow-green colour.

I was told that good quality matcha isn’t bitter like green tea can be – and I agree! There is an earthy, green taste to the drink, but there’s no bitterness and there is a creaminess to it. I wouldn’t say it’s the nicest thing I’ve ever tasted, but I very much enjoy knowing I’m drinking something that is so good for me!

Why is matcha healthy?

I’ve been blown away by how many healthy properties matcha has – it must be one of the healthiest drinks out there. On Moya Matcha’s website is a list of matcha properties with more information, but I’ll just include bullet points here:

  • it’s a powerful antioxidant – for comparison: wild blueberries have 93TE/g and matcha has 1573 TE/g
  • it’s a rich source of catechins – they reduce the risk of atherosclerosis, have an antibacterial and antiviral effect and reduce blood cholesterol levels
  • it has a calming and relaxing effect
  • it improves memory and concentration
  • it increases energy levels and enhances endurance
  • it helps burn excessive calories by accelerating the body’s metabolism
  • the high content of chlorophyll helps cleanse the body of toxins
  • it strengthens the immune system
  • it reduces the level of bad cholesterol

Not bad from a simple green drink hey?!

How to prepare matcha

I love preparing matcha the traditional way and taking that brief moment out of my busy life to go through the few simple steps required to make matcha. I also like drinking it from a matcha bowl, using both hands, as I think it makes me focus more on the drink and the moment.

All you need to do is:

1. Use the bamboo scoop (chashaku) to put two scoops of matcha into a bowl (chawan) – through a sieve for better results

2. Pour over 100 ml of hot water – but no hotter than 80 degrees °C

3. Use the bamboo whisk (chasen) to whisk vigorously in the shape of the letter M until a green foam forms on the surface

4. Enjoy!

If you don’t have a whisk you can use an electric milk frother and you don’t need to use a special matcha bowl – just a bowl that is flat and big enough for the whisk. But for a matcha-loving person, or just a health conscious person, I think a ceremonial matcha set is the perfect gift!

You can also use matcha in all sorts of recipes, from cheesecake to pancakes, smoothies to chia seed pudding and muffins to matchamisu – matcha tiramisu. I’m yet to try any of these as I didn’t want to use my premium matcha for anything else than drinking.

If I could pick just one place to travel to in the world it would be Japan. I would even love to live there for a year or so one day – but until then I will just drink my matcha and pretend I’m in Japan for a brief moment every morning 😀

Have you tried matcha? Did you like it?

x Nina x