What's Up with Matcha?

While I was out with some girl friends at brunch yesterday, we were talking about healthy food hype and if things really live up to what people say about them. One thing in particular that we talked about was matcha, so I thought I'd start there, and continue these type of discussions in the future. 

What is matcha?

Green tea. It's a special kind of green tea. 

Let me grab the Wikipedia definition for you: Matcha is finely ground powder of specially grown and processed green tea. It's special in two aspects of farming and processing: The green tea plants for matcha are shade-grown for about three weeks before harvest, and the stems and veins are removed in processing.

What do people say about it?

People are talking. Everyone from tea companies to New York Magazine to Bodybuilding.com has shared their point of view. Here are some of the claims that have been made about matcha:

  • Burns fat
  • Prevents cancer
  • Helps you concentration
  • Provides energy
  • Slows down aging
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • Works for detox

How do people use it?

Traditionally, it's consumed as tea. It's a high maintenance tea because you don't steep it like you would normal tea. You also can't really make it in advance or sip at it all day. Generally, it should be made and immediately consumed. 

How to prepare matcha tea via matchasource.com

How to prepare matcha tea via matchasource.com

People also make it into lattes, mochi, and desserts. And they're quite tasty.

Mochi recipe via kirbiecravings.com

Mochi recipe via kirbiecravings.com

Matcha & Coconut Mochi Cake via food52.com

Matcha & Coconut Mochi Cake via food52.com

What's the reality?

The reality is that it's tea. It has benefits, like all teas do, but it doesn't have magical powers. If you drink matcha but you don't wash the makeup off your face before you go to bed, your skin will still age at a faster rate. If you drink matcha but you don't workout or eat right, you will still gain weight. If you drink matcha, but you have a family history of high cholesterol or cancer, matcha isn't going to prevent those disease states. 

Moral of the story: it's healthy. It can be helpful to your health. It's not magic.