Matcha tea has been consumed and loved in Asia for centuries, and its popularity has shifted to the United States in recent years. Thanks to its versatility as a powdered ingredient, matcha has the ability to be used not only as tea, but in other food and beverages as well.

Its origin can be traced back to the Tang dynasty in China, where the steamed tea leaves were formed into bricks to be easier to trade and transport. After being delivered, the tea bricks were prepared by roasting and pulverizing the leaves into the famous matcha powder, which was then mixed with water and salt. The powdered green tea became popular and was thought of as a luxurious status symbol. It is said that Samurai warriors drank matcha to benefit from its energizing qualities before going into battle. In contrast, Zen Buddhist monks also drank matcha tea before meditation to relax and increase their mental focus.

Matcha’s high antioxidant profile makes it great for boosting metabolism, brain function, and aid in weight loss. Because of these alleged benefits, it has been coined as a “miracle” supplement, and praised as a health food by nutritionists and foodies alike.

The ingredient has even been introduced into the alcohol world, with matcha beer and cocktails becoming extremely popular. The quality of the matcha powder and tricky preparation can make cocktail creation difficult for bartenders, but when done properly, the result is a fresh and vegetal green drink.

Its versatile powder form allows people to be creative when using it, as well. Aside from traditional hot tea, matcha can be used in lattes, smoothies, ice cream, cookies, cakes, or even sprinkled on yogurt. The options are endless. If you’re not familiar with this phenomenon, you likely will be soon.

Written on August 16, 2018.