A VIBRANT GUIDE TO MATCHA

Let’s talk Matcha. I’m sure that by now you’ve heard of matcha-or at least seen it. It’s the trendy drink you see all over Instagram, with a green hue that could blow millennial pink out of the water any day (in my humble opinion).

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You’ve also probably seen me pouring this creamy green beverage over ice cubes on the daily–I’m pretty obsessed with the stuff. I get asked what kind of matcha I use and how I prepare it almost every single day,  so I wanted to put together a one stop shop for all matcha info. First things first, what kind of matcha do I use?

MY FAVORITE BRANDS + DISCOUNT CODES

These are the brands I love and use.  I know matcha can be expensive, so I reached out to these brands requesting discount codes for you and they happily obliged. I hope this will encourage you to give these high quality matcha varieties a try! Once you try the good stuff, you’ll surely be aboard the matcha train.

RITUAL COSMIC has high quality culinary  (they call theirs ‘habitual’) + ceremonial grade matcha (not to mention the cutest pastel pink packaging I’ve ever seen…) Feel free to use the code “vibrant20” for 20% off your order.

MIZUBA TEA

Here is a link to my favorite culinary grade matcha from Mizuba. This culinary matcha is a great deal at 30 dollars for a 100 gram pouch. Free shipping usually requires a $75 purchase, but they have offered free shipping on any order with code ‘VIBRANTANDPURE’

IPPODO TEA

One of my absolute favorite ceremonial grade matchas. Feel free to use code “VIBRANT10” at checkout for 10% off your order.

LAKA LIVING

I love this brand. They have lots of cool products including a ceremonial grade matcha, which is excellent. You can use code “vibrantlakaliving” for 15% off your order

 

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Now, what IS matcha?

So….what is matcha? And how is it different from regular green tea? According to Medical News Today “Matcha is made from a special kind of tea plant, the Camellia Sinensis. This produces a type of tea known as tencha. Tencha spends some of its growing time partially covered. This technique increases the amount of chlorophyll it contains, giving it a bright green color.” Regular green tea comes from this same plant, but the leaves are usually consumed via tea bags. Matcha is made by grinding up the pure green tea leaves into a powder, creating a much more concentrated version. A study found that Matcha has three times the amount of EGCg than regular green tea. So, what is EGCg and why does this matter? EGCg is a catechin (a class of antioxidants) which has anti-tumor and cancer preventing properties. Matcha may also provide relaxation and increased focus. Medical News Today explains that the high levels of the amino acid, L-theanine, is what promotes a sense of overall well-being and calm. When this is mixed with the caffeine content, it produces a relaxed type of alertness. Matcha also aids in boosting the metabolism, not to mention it’s loaded with vitamins and chlorophyll.

For a long time, I was simply a matcha observer. I thought it looked pretty, and to my knowledge it was healthy, as it appeared to be so popular in the wellness world. For months I looked, but did not touch- so to speak. I was a staunch and unwavering coffee drinker, and I wasn’t about to give up my morning espresso for some green tea- I mean, that just sounded blasphemous. Eventually though, after seeing the 100th pastel green latte on my Instagram feed,  I gave in, and ordered myself some matcha from good old Amazon. I had zero knowledge of the types of matcha or the varying degrees of quality. I mixed up some of this magical green powder with milk and took a big sip. Have you ever seen those youtube videos of babies trying a lemon for a the first time? Well, my face had a similar grimace. I was thinking, ‘How in the world do people enjoy this chalky, earthy, bitter disaster!?’ I threw the stuff in my pantry and decided I was officially not a member of team matcha.

A year later, this all changed. I was sent some matcha to try from Ippodo Tea (still one of my favorite brands to use.) They sent me their ceremonial grade matcha (more on that later) sourced from Kyoto, Japan. The flavor was earthy, but an irresistible earthiness that I had never enjoyed so much before, it was smooth as can be and oh so creamy.

I never thought I’d be a matcha drinker over a coffee drinker, but recently it became evident to me that though I adored coffee, the feeling was not mutual. After experimenting and deciding to switch from coffee to matcha for a few weeks, I realized that coffee was the culprit that exacerbated my hormonal acne, aggravated my body’s acidity levels and gave me acid reflux, and triggered my anxiety levels. Matcha still gives me that kick I need in the morning, but it offers a different and more steady level of energy, there are no highs and lows or crashes. I’m hooked.

TYPES OF MATCHA:

Now let’s discuss types of matcha. There is ceremonial grade and culinary grade. Then there’s all sorts of ‘green tea powders’ you may find online being marketed as matcha, but its probably not at all, so be aware of that.

CEREMONIAL GRADE:

Ceremonial grade matcha is traditionally intended for a very special tea ceremony, one where the tea would be consumed straight up and with hardly any water (the traditional tea ceremony is called ‘Koicha’ meaning ‘thick tea.’) Think of this as the tea you would use on a special occasion. The idea is that this matcha is so high quality that the flavors should be savored on their own, not diluted by milk in a latte.

CULINARY GRADE:

Culinary matcha has a bad reputation because in the American market, poorly made, processed, and oxidized green tea powder is often marketed as culinary matcha and it tastes like dirt. These powders might taste okay in baking, but that’s about it. This is a bad misconception though, because if you are purchasing culinary grade from a reputable brand (like Mizuba), then you can rest assured you are getting a very quality matcha. A culinary matcha is intended to be used if you plan on mixing your matcha with milk in a latte, or into other beverages like a matcha lemonade.

Even though technically ceremonial grade should be consumed on its own, I still like to use it in my lattes sometimes because the flavor and smoothness is irresistible- but it is expensive, so I like to supplement with culinary as well.

QUALITY:

So basically there’s an incorrect notion that ceremonial grade is always good, and culinary grade is always, well, not so good. I’ve come to find that this is not the case at all.  The quality of the matcha lies moreso in the integrity and quality of the brand you are buying from.

For example, I’ve ordered some ceremonial grade matcha on amazon and it was a dusty light green color, not the deep vibrant green color I had come to expect from a ceremonial grade matcha. Similarly, I ordered culinary grade matcha from Mizuba Tea, which is an amazing brand that prides themselves on producing quality matcha, and that culinary grade was on par with some of the best ceremonial matcha I’ve ever tried.

My friends at Mizuba are an amazing resource and they offer great tips on choosing a quality matcha. When researching a brand, ask these questions:

  1. Is the matcha from Japan? (the good stuff is grown in Japan)
  2. Is the matcha grown in the shade and is it solely ‘tencha’ leaves? According to Mizuba, matcha is not made of any other leaves like sencha or gyokuro. Tencha can only be grown in the shade, so if your matcha was shade grown, you know it’s the real deal.
  3. How was the matcha powder produced? Was it stone ground or mechanically ground? True authentic matcha is stone ground.

 

MY FAVORITE MATCHA RECIPES:

Here are links to all my favorite matcha recipes:

Matcha Latte W/ Honey Cashew Milk

*Feel free to add 1 teaspoon of ghee, coconut butter, or coconut oil to this recipe to make it bulletproof. I’ll also often add collagen peptides and/or my favorite adaptogens. This recipe can be enjoyed hot or iced.

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Iced Rosewater Matcha Lemonade

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Dirty Mint Matcha

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