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Unlike traditional green tea, matcha preparation involves covering the tea plants with shade cloths before they’re harvested. This triggers the growth of leaves with better flavor and texture, which are hand selected, steamed briefly to stop fermentation, then dried and aged in cold storage, which deepens the flavor. The dried leaves are then stone-ground into a fine powder.
Studies in laboratory animals have found that green tea polyphenols inhibit the growth of esophageal cancer cells (in line with its anti-cancer properties). Other clinical studies have found that green tea offers protection against the development of esophageal cancer, particularly among women. However, one large-scale population-based clinical study found just the opposite: drinking green tea was associated with an increased risk of esophageal cancer, and the stronger and hotter the tea, the greater the risk. It seems that if the water is very hot, it can damage the esophagus and lead to long-term adverse consequences. So just make sure the tea you drink isn’t extremely hot.
Matcha powder and hot water should be whisked together. It’s recommended that you use a tea strainer to sift the matcha into a bowl to avoid clumps. Then, add warm water and whisk it. (Traditionally this is done with a called a bamboo whisk called a chasen.) The whisking creates a foamy tea that can be poured into your cup. Some people add the powder to other hot liquids, like milk, to make a bright green latte. Here’s a video of how to make traditional matcha tea.
Every day, countless people throw away valuable antioxidants and minerals. While seemingly unimaginable, that’s exactly what happens when you brew a cup of green tea because water can only extract a fraction of green teas benefits. The majority actually remains unused, trapped in the tea leaves. In reality, the only way to truly take advantage of green teas full potential is to consume the entire leaf. But that doesn’t mean you need to start eating tea leaves. The simplest solution is to just enjoy a bowl of matcha. Because matcha is straight, stoneground tea leaves, matcha provides you with green teas powerful arsenal of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and amino acids in a way no other green tea can.
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Because matcha is incorporated into water (whereas other green teas are steeped in water), you consume the entire leaf—and thereby the full effects of its antioxidants, vitamins, and caffeine. Fans say matcha provides a calmer, more sustained energy burst than coffee or espresso, and since it’s less astringent, it mingles more readily with fruit, yogurt, and herbs in wake-up drinks like smoothies and juices.
On this episode of Consumed, host and Eater Drinks editor Kat Odell looks into the matcha production process — how it differs from that of more traditional steeped green tea, and how two of New York's noted matcha purveyors (Ippodo Tea Company and Matchabar) are working with the product today. Watch the video above for a lesson in powdered green tea; if your interest is piqued, check this map for the best places to drink matcha across the country, and these recipes for making iced matcha drinks at home, perfect for the summer.