In this traditional Japanese preparation, the powder is sifted through a fine mesh sieve and measured into a special bowl called a chawan. Hot water is added slowly while whisking briskly in a W pattern with a bamboo whisk called a chasen until smooth with a foamy froth on top. Matcha can have a slight astringent note and is usually served with a small sweet confection called a wagashi. Because of this complementary relationship with sweets and reputed green tea health benefits, it has become a favorite ingredient for chefs and confectioners.
Use it as a natural food coloring in cake batter and icings, or make a less-sweet snickerdoodle by rolling the cookies in matcha-sugar. Infuse it into milk or coconut milk before you make ice cream, or incorporate it into a citrusy dry-rub for salmon or tuna. Sprinkle matcha over poached eggs to intensify their savoriness, or cream butter with matcha and granulated sugar, then spread it over toasted brioche. Or shake ½ teaspoon into a lemony, herbal cocktail.
To cut down on aches and pains, try to sip four cups of green tea a day. The tea contains quercetin, a chemical compound that acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In a recent study conducted at Case Western Reserve University, researchers gave mice the equivalent of four cups of green tea a day, then gave them a substance that would normally produce rheumatoid arthritis. The tea-drinking mice were far less likely to develop arthritis than mice that drank water. According to the Iowa Women’s Health Study, women who drank more than three cups of tea a day were 60 percent less likely to develop rheumatoid arthritis than non tea drinkers. Other research has found that tea’s polyphenols—antioxidant properties—are also anti-inflammatory and improve arthritis-related immune responses. Did you know other teas also act as natural home remedies for arthritis pain?
Along with caffeine, which gives green tea its characteristic taste, bitterness, and stimulating effect, green tea is also rich in a group of chemicals, called catechin polyphenols (commonly known as tannins, which contribute to bitter taste and astringency). These catechin polyphenols include catechin, epicatechin, epicatechin gallate (ECG), epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), and various proanthocyanidins. They are also known as flavonoids and are very powerful antioxidants. Flavonoids, together with some amino acids like thiamine, are responsible for the potent flavor of green tea.
Zen Buddhism and the Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by the monk Eisai. In Japan it became an important item at Zen monasteries and from the fourteenth through to the sixteenth centuries was highly appreciated by members of the upper echelons of society. Although powdered tea has not been popular in China for some time, there is now a global resurgence in the consumption of Matcha tea, including in China.