BATD ON May 09, 2014 AT 11:20 am

Matcha in its raw form and as tea.

Matcha in its raw form and as tea.

Green health drinks are all the rage right now, and we’ve found one that puts the rest to shame: matcha! If you remember it featured in our ‘Healthy Eating Swaps‘ feature for 2014. It’s the newest superfood drink to make a splash in the UK, with matcha teas and lattes popping up on cafe menus all over London. The benefits of drinking matcha are incredible, and it’s proven to have a serious impact on improving health and beauty. With a faithful following of celebrities and health-conscious folks alike, matcha tea is the next big thing — and there are so many reasons to love it!

So, what exactly is it? Matcha is a fine green tea powder from Japan, and people there have been drinking it for centuries. It’s different than green tea because you actually ingest the ground-up leaves, meaning you take in a lot more nutrients than you do when drinking traditional teas. Matcha is easy to mix into a variety of drinks, but lattes are the most popular way to drink it, and they’ve been given the seal of approval by stars like Gwyneth Paltrow and even Dr. Oz. Kristin Cavallari tweeted this picture of her own matcha green tea creation:

Gwyneth Paltrow discovered the new sensation when she spent 48 hours in Japan. She describes the traditions surrounding the new beverage on her online journal ‘goop‘ here: ‘The Japanese tea ceremony, which stems from Zen Buddhism, is primarily concerned with the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha. Some more formal tea ceremonies are also accompanied by a kaiseki-style meal, which can last for a number of hours. This ceremony was just about matcha, which is served in artisan-made pottery. Once it’s placed in front of you, turn the bowl three times clockwise – if there’s a center pattern on the cup, that should end up facing out. Then, the tea should be drunk in approximately three sips, and on the last one, a slurping noise to finish is respectful. ‘

Health fiend Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of match lattes.

Health fiend Gwyneth Paltrow is a fan of match lattes.

Let’s talk benefits. Sure, matcha is trendy, but it’s also really healthy! Basically, matcha is an extremely concentrated form of green tea. It packs in 137 times more antioxidants than green tea, helping to protect against cell damage as well as prevent the effects of aging. Containing two special amino acids called theophylline and L-theanine which work together with a minimal amount of caffeine, matcha can provide an energy boost that lasts up to six hours. It’s proven to produce energizing and calming effects, all through natural processes. Our favorite benefit of matcha is that it increases fat burning and oxidation, and makes the process of burning off calories faster and more effective! Plus, matcha is great for skin: the polyphenols found in the tea can protect skin from damaging UV-rays, making it anti-aging and radiance-boosting. So basically, matcha tea is the perfect weapon for any and all problems related to health and beauty. Need we say more?

Vivid Matcha.

Vivid Matcha (£1.85).

Some find the taste a tad too bitter, but luckily for us a drink has hit on this latest matcha trend with a zing. The new Vivid range of chilled matcha drinks is the brainwave of 25 year old James Shillock, who came across the traditions and health benefits associated with matcha whilst he was travelling through China. He made a drink for his brother, blending it with lime, ginger and honey, and it’s happy reception prompted him to make it available to everyone else. Well thank you James! The lime, ginger and honey flavour is a firm favourite, and two other varieties, rhubarb and pear as well as grape and elderflower, are equally as refreshing. They’re £1.85 a pop, only slightly more than  that Diet Coke you always pick up, and far, far healthier. It’s a summer must for us in the office, if only it came by the jug full!

Matcha itself is becoming widely available,  it can be found in cafes, health shops, some grocery stores, and online. A good brand to start with is Teapigs, which sells matcha power in 30g containers at Waitrose for £25. Another option is DoMatcha, which costs £24.90 at Tesco. Want to give it a shot by making it at home? Check out this recipe from Teapigs and Ocado (there’s room for variety in the type of milk you choose to add. Give almond or soy milk a try!):

For the perfect matcha latte at home follow these simple instructions:

- Put half a teaspoon of Teapigs organic matcha powder into a cup, add one inch of hot water and whisk until smooth.

- Heat your milk (whether it be normal, almond or rice milk) in the microwave for one minute (or until hot) and whisk until slightly thick and frothy, then pour over the matcha mix.

- Whisk together if needed, and add 1tsb of honey or agave nectar for a little sweetness if desired.


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