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Matcha The Emerald of Green Teas

These days, anyone who isn't a tea aficionado can find shopping for tea to be a daunting task, especially when there are so many varieties to choose from, like white or black tea, oohlang or tulsi. But don't fret, there is one tea that stands above all the rest, and that is matcha.

Matcha, in Japanese, means powdered tea. This premium green tea is one of the oldest varieties of shade-grown teas in the world, meaning that part of its growth cycle is done in the shade several weeks prior to harvesting. This process boosts the chlorophyll that gives the leaves a vibrant green hue. Once the leaves are picked and dried, the leaves are then stone ground into a fine powder. And because only the youngest, freshest and finest leaves are used, matcha provides the highest degree of nutritional value compared to all green teas. Drinking one cup of matcha gives you the equivalent of ten cups of green tea in terms of antioxidant and health-promoting benefits. This uber-charged tea beverage is a great balance of an energy booster, calorie burner, and detox agent all in one. Just for a change of pace, why not try a matcha latte to help jump start your day?

I think of matcha as the emerald jewel of green teas and that's because it is one of the most expensive teas to buy. The best matcha comes from the famous tea fields of Kyoto, Japan where they take special care of these precious plants knowing that they will be used in traditional tea ceremonies. At one time, matcha was specifically reserved for royalty and religious dignitaries, and has been used by Zen monks during meditation for over 800 years. A full tea ceremony can take up to four hours which includes a meal, sweets, and twice served matcha tea. But now, the Japanese people consume matcha on a regular basis, which explains why they are considered to be the healthiest people in the world.

We have been enamored with matcha for a few years now, and use it in a variety of ways. At Whole Spice we have matcha ceremonial pure ground tea powder for beverages, and the matcha pure pre-mix grade for cooking. We use matcha in gourmet recipes for Asian food such as tempura, edamame and tofu dishes. Matcha sea salt is another great way to add flavor to your food. Try it on scrambled eggs, country potatoes or in soups. But don't stop there be daring and explore other creative ways to use matcha. Did I mention desserts? If you have a sweet tooth, satisfy it with matcha cupcakes, muffins, ice cream, or tea-cakes, and the list goes on.

For preparing matcha tea it would be great to use the customary tea set, which is comprised of a bamboo whisk (called a chasen), a bamboo tea scooper, a fine meshed sifter, and of course, a tea bowl. To start with, the matcha tea powder should be at room temperature before sifting it through the strainer to remove any lumps. Place 1 ½ to 2 scoops of the sifted powder into the tea bowl. Add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup of simmering water (never use boiling water) to the bowl. The amounts can be adjusted to your preference. Briskly whisk the tea and hot water until the powder slowly dissolves and a soft, light froth forms on the surface. Keep the whisk vertical and try not to touch the bottom of the bowl with it. After the froth has formed, slowly lift the whisk from the center of the bowl. Pour the brew into your tea cups and serve with a sweet treat. Sit on some floor cushions, sip your matcha, and enjoy your very own tea ceremony.

For a simple, delicious breakfast for two try Poached Eggs with Matcha Sea Salt served with vegetables, sliced tomatoes or country fried potatoes and of course, a cup if matcha tea.

() 楽しむ; 恵まれる Japanese for Enjoy!

Poached Eggs with Matcha Sea Salt - click on link for recipe