As you know I love my green tea (see blog http://spagirl007.blogspot.com/2009/10/spa-girl-loves-green-tea-for-so-many.html) but have often found it confusing to make a good selection when faced with rows upon rows of green teas.
On several Spa visits I have been served a wonderful Matcha green tea and I have had Matcha on several occasions when I attended special Japanese tea ceremonies. Matcha is premium green tea powder from Japan used for drinking as tea or as an ingredient in recipes. While other green teas are grown throughout the world, Matcha is unique to Japan. It is the heart of the Japanese way of tea and has been celebrated in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony for hundreds of years.
Matcha is a finely powdered green tea and looks like an emerald coloured flour and has 10-15 times more nutrients than other premium green teas as you drink both the leaves and the tea. Matcha contains L-theanine, an amino acid known to relax the mind. Buddhist monks drink Matcha to assist in meditation, as the amino acids contained in the tea, combined with caffeine, offer a sustained sense of calm. The caffeine in Matcha provides 4 to 6 hours of mild steady energy—great first thing in the morning. Amino acids are also what gives this tea its unique taste. Matcha also contains the highest antioxidant count compared to all known fruits and vegetables, it is high in fiber and chlorophyll and Spa Girls, it only has 4 calories per serving!
According to Wikipedia...
Matcha is made from shade-grown tea leaves also used to make gyokuro, unlike other forms of powdered tea, such as powdered sencha.The preparation of matcha starts several weeks before harvest, when the tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight. This slows down growth, turns the leaves a darker shade of green and causes the production of amino acids that make the resulting tea sweeter.
Only the finest tea buds are hand picked. After harvesting, if the leaves are rolled out before drying as usual, the result will be gyokuro (jewel dew) tea. However, if the leaves are laid out flat to dry, they will crumble somewhat and become known as tencha (碾茶). Tencha can then be de-veined, de-stemmed, and stone ground to the fine, bright green, talc-like powder known as matcha. It can take up to one hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.Note that only ground tencha qualifies as matcha, and other powdered teas are known as konacha (粉茶, lit. "powder tea").
The flavour of matcha is dominated by its amino acids. The highest grades of matcha have more intense sweetness and deeper flavour than the standard or coarser grades of tea harvested later in the year.The most famous matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka, and northern Kyūshū.
Some of the many benefits of Matcha green tea.
• Significantly increases energy without the caffeine "jitters".
• Improves mental alertness (L-theanine component)
• Increases calmness and reduces stress (L-theanine component)
• Boosts metabolic rate by 35-40%
• Powerful "Anti-Aging" activity due to the super-charged antioxidants
• Lowers blood pressure
• Decreases level of LDL or "bad"cholesterol
• Minimizes symptoms of PMS
• "Super" cancer-fighting and cancer-preventative activity (due to extremely high levels of polyphenols and catechins)
• Eases constipation due to high level of easily absorbable dietary fiber
• Stabilizes blood sugar levels
• Powerful anti-biotic and anti-viral activity
• Strong blood detoxifier and alkalyzer, due to the high Chlorophyll content
If you cannot find Matcha locally you can buy it on line. Just make sure it comes from Japan. Enjoy Spa Girls…(and boys!)