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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Making Matcha


Green tea is good for detoxification, and matcha is especially good.

All true teas — white, green, oolong, and black — come from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. They contain powerful antioxidants, including epigallocatechin gallate-3 or EGCG, which has been shown to stimulate detoxification pathways in the liver and increase elimination of chemicals associated with insulin resistance and diabetes. EGCG has also been shown to protect the brain from heavy metals, increase metabolism, improve cholesterol ratios, and reduce the risk of cancer.

White tea comes from young leaves that are steamed immediately after harvest and not fermented at all. It contains the highest concentration of EGCG.

Green tea has undergone minimal fermentation and is also high in EGCG, especially Japanese varieties like matcha, sencha, and gyokuro.

Oolong tea is partially fermented and black tea is fully fermented. The process of fermentation changes some of the antioxidants in tea leaves, transforming them into new compounds (like theaflavins and thearubigins) that have other benefits, like reducing the risk of diabetes.

To maximize the health benefits of tea, drink it unsweetened and avoid adding dairy products like cream, which inactivate beneficial compounds. Choose loose or powdered tea leaves over tea bags and use about one teaspoon for each cup of water.

To prepare matcha:

Making matcha can be a meditative ritual or a daily habit. This tea is not for sipping. It should be consumed soon after it's made, in several swallows until gone.

1.  Boil water and pour it into a bowl. Swish the whisk in the water and swirl the water around the bowl. Let it stand for one minute. Discard the water. (Some people dry the bowl but I find it unnecessary.)

2.  Place a fine mesh sieve over a bowl (or cup) large enough to easily accommodate one cup of tea. Add a scoop of matcha and pass it through the sieve, breaking up any clumps.

3.  Pour a small amount of water over the matcha. Use a bamboo whisk to mix vigorously until the matcha is fully dissolved, moving your wrist, not your arm, in a back-and-forth or zigzag pattern for a frothy matcha or in a circular motion for a non-frothy one.

4.  Add more water until you have about 1 cup of tea.

5.  Drink the prepared matcha as soon as it's cool enough to do so.

That being the proper way to make matcha, I do take a few short cuts.

To start, I pour a bit of boiling water in the bottom and swirl it around to warm the bowl and cool the water, since water at a full boil can burn the tea leaves. Instead of discarding the water, which is now at the right temperature, I whisk in a scoop of matcha, without using the sieve, since my matcha doesn't clump. When one minute has passed since the water came to a boil, I add the rest of the water.

Swirl. Mix. Fill. Drink.

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