Matcha

What is the deal with all this matcha? A question many people are asking themselves as matcha leapt from the cup to the plate in 2014, shining the spotlight on this traditional style of ground Japanese tea. Matcha does not have a brief history. In fact, it has been used for centuries by Buddhist monks and Samurai warriors to prepare for meditation and improve mental clarity. This is possible thanks to the brain boosting and stress reducing combination of antioxidants, amino acids, and extraneous health benefits it contains. Matcha differs from traditional tea in one way; the entire leaf is powdered and consumed, instead of traditional tea where a bag is steeped, leaving most of the “good stuff” behind in the bag to be thrown away. This one difference means huge retention in natural nutrient content, and the big bonus with matcha is that it can be used in everything from soups, pastries, dressings, marinades, and anything really where the addition of a powder will not harm the recipe. One could compare it to whey powder in that there are similar qualities, but matcha comes with a far more targeted benefits and a higher concentration of comparable attributes. “There will be renewed interest in matcha, which offers more potent nutrition than in regular green tea because one consumes the ground tea leaf, not just the steeped liquid,” explains Kara Nielsen, Culinary Director at the Sterling Rice Group. Nielsen continues to say that we should “expect to see renewed interest in matcha lattes and matcha in smoothies and other blended beverages.” Google trend analytics shows that in the last 2 years, interest in matcha has spiked over 250%. Creatively using matcha in hot, cold, and prepared applications will be a powerful force to encourage growth in sales, particularly among the health conscious, leading in to 2016. In fact, it is already starting to show up in some high-profile products from Häagen-Dazs ice cream to Jamba Juice smoothies.