Why Do We Call Our Matcha Blends “Blends?”



A number of people have recently asked me why we refer to our matcha as “blends.” What, exactly, is blended?


First, there is nothing in any of our matcha except matcha green tea. No fillers, no sweeteners, no additives of any kind. It’s 100 percent green tea, and nothing else.


So what’s blended?


We find and develop relationships with obsessive matcha farmers. LIke many farmers in Japan, these farmers typically operate are part of agricultural cooperatives that “bundle” their matcha harvests with other coop members, most of whom are very nearby. But it’s remarkable how different the “terroir” of matcha fields, even just hundreds of meters from one another, can be. We thus will blend tencha (leaves that are destined to become ground and turn into matcha) from different terroir into our signature blends.


We also combine and blend harvests from different “vintages.” Each year in May the new harvest takes place, and those newly harvested lleaves will get combined with leaves from previous harvests. Obsessive artisanal farmers only harvest once a year, in contrast to matcha farmers who are trying to maximize yield and thus harvest two and even three or more times annually — much of those subsequent harvests are destined to become culinary matcha or even what I call “agricultural” matcha, which is the lowest end of the quality spectrum (it makes fantastic chicken food, however; the eggs are marvelous).


It’s important to blend previous vintages with current vintages for a few reasons: mainly consistency and taste. We want our signature blends to taste similarly year in and year out, so we blend accordingly. Matcha also develops deep flavor profiles that tend toward the sweet and umami laden when harvests are artfully combined.


So why are the blends numbered? When I first started the business, I employed a naming firm to come up with some cool names for the blends, but in the end they all felt kind of odd, so it seemed like a simple numbering system would work better.


It’s a lot of work to do what we do — it would be so much easier to simply purchase teas directly from farmers (or go-betweens, for that matter) and declare victory. But we can’t help it! It’s the pursuit of the ideal bowl of matcha that drives us, not the short-term gains to be had by not bothering.


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Blog readers are encouraged to use code BLOGTWELVEPOINTFIVE to receive a 12.5% discount on all matcha and teaware.

Can I Travel With Matcha?

happy young woman with a city map and a backpack smiling

Throughout this website, in our packaging, and in our written and spoken communications, we stress that matcha must be refrigerated. Nothing has changed there; matcha most definitely must be refrigerated.


By over-emphasizing how important it is to keep your matcha very cold, we hammer home the point that storing matcha in your refrigerator is the optimal way to keep it most vibrant.


But what we don’t emphasize much is that matcha can easily and happily live without refrigeration for smallish chunks of time. So what is smallish? Matcha will remain fine and unharmed at room temperature for a few weeks. I try not to push it beyond two weeks, though you can certainly can if you need to.


After all, almost no retailer refrigerates matcha — think of picking up a tin of matcha at Whole Foods; it’s in the aisles, with the other teas, which is kind of insane and guarantees a loss of vibrancy. So that matcha sits on the shelf for months on end, unrefrigerated.


It’s not as if matcha can go rancid, as oils can, or fatally deteriorate in other ways. It just gets kind of . . . dead. It becomes dusty. The more unpleasant aspects of industrial-grade matcha come out in force, with a lot of swampy/froggy off notes.


So in short, yes, you can easily travel with matcha: it’s fine to let it sit out, unrefrigerated, for a few days, and indeed up to several weeks. But the point is to get it refrigerated in a reasonably rapid fashion when you settle into wherever you’re going. Keep it refrigerated in principle, as your detault, to the greatest extent you can.


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Blog readers are welcome to use the BLOGELEVEN code during checkout to automatically deduct 11 percent from everything we offer.

Caffeine: Can I Drink Matcha During Pregnancy?

Portrait of pregnant woman looking at ultrasound scan of baby.


We get this question all the time.


Dr. David Elmer, an OBGYN at Nantucket Cottage Hospital in Nantucket, Massachusetts, puts it this way:


“There’s been a shift in paradigm, where we don’t go on conventional wisdom and practice evidence-based medicine. And the overwhelming evidence does not support much, if any, damage in having caffeine.”


The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the Mayo Clinic, Britain’s National Health Service, The March of Dimes, and many OBGYNs throughout the world generally agree that pregnant women can safely consume up to about 200mg of caffeine per day.


Recall that a normally brewed cup of coffee has somewhere between 100mg and 200mg of caffeine. Starbucks’s 16-oz house coffee has about 330.


Also recall that a serving (1 gram) of matcha contains roughly 25mg of caffeine. Which means that you can have seven or eight servings of matcha per day and still be under the recommended limit. Most people, that is to say most not-pregnant people, don’t drink anywhere near that much matcha.


Other than watching caffeine levels, it’s hard to imagine something that gives your body/system so many phytonutrients isn’t also beneficial to a fetus.


Naturally, this does not constitute medical advice — always check with you doctor first.


Also remember that it isn’t JUST the nutrients and caffeine — it’s really about the OVERALL health of the mama that matters most. And if a cup or two of matcha makes mama happy, I have to believe that a happy, humming mama makes for the happiest, humming baby. Moreover, because the baby does indeed absorb so much of your nutritional intake, pregnant women have to be extra mindful of getting optimal nutrition.


Blog readers are welcome to use the BLOGELEVEN code during checkout to automatically deduct 11 percent from everything we offer.

Matcha — The Anti Cortisol

chashaku on wood


I’ve found that physical energy — the “fuel” that allows us to ignite our emotional and intellectual skills and talents — is, in the end, what we all crave. We absolutely need physical energy to be at our best.


And there’s no way around it: we have to somehow access pleasant and positive emotions, including joy (aka enjoyment), challenge, and adventure, to be at our best. Emotions that manifest via fear, anger, frustration, and sadness have a certain toxic quality to them. All are associated with the release of a specific stress hormone called cortisol.


Cortisol is actually a steroid hormone, produced and released by the adrenal gland (where adrenaline comes from) in response to stress and low blood glucose. It functions to suppress the immune system (by lengthening wound healing time), to inhibit collagen formation needed for bone strength, and to prevent proliferation of T-cells. It also decreases amino acid uptake required by our muscles.


In short, cortisol has helped human beings throughout our evolution through the creation of the “flight or fight” response. As the great Stanford neuroscientist Robert Sapolsky has written, ”


In the short term, stress hormones are “brilliantly adapted” to help you survive an unexpected threat. You mobilize energy in your thigh muscles, you increase your blood pressure and you turn off everything that’s not essential to surviving, such as digestion, growth, and reproduction. You think more clearly, and certain aspects of learning and memory are enhanced. All of that is spectacularly adapted if you’re dealing with an acute physical stressor—a real one.

But non-life-threatening stressors, such as constantly worrying about money or pleasing your boss, also trigger the release of adrenalin and other stress hormones, which, over time, can have devastating consequences to your health. If you turn on the stress response chronically for purely psychological reasons, you increase your risk of adult onset diabetes and high blood pressure. If you’re chronically shutting down the digestive system, there’s a bunch of gastrointestinal disorders you’re more at risk for as well.


So: cortisol was extremely useful for early homo sapiens, but far less useful today for most of us.


Matcha, it turns out, is a sort of anti-cortisol.  It helps stabilize blood sugar, and reduces stress on the adrenal glands.Specifically, the L-theanine in matcha is thought to reduce levels of cortisol by creating alpha waves in the brain to produce a state of calm and serene alertness.


Coffee, in contrast, does the opposite: it causes an adrenaline and cortisol spike.


So if you needed yet more reason to introduce matcha into your life, there it is!


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BLOG10 always gets you 10% off everything we offer.








Swirling Matcha — What the Traditionalists Are Missing


matcha hands on granite2



Swirling matcha makes it taste a lot better.


This observation is a lovely discovery, and it’s a genuine addition to the venerable history of matcha.


Matcha isn’t swirled in the traditional method — it’s whipped up in the bowl and consumed. No swirling.


But swirling releases all kinds of wonderfulness.


Just as swirling a glass of wine makes it taste better — every sommelier knows this — it’s the same with matcha. Swirling — or what physicists call “orbital shaking” — actually churns liquid as it travels along the glass or ceramic, drawing in oxygen from the air and intensifying artisanal matcha’s delightful aromas. It tastes completely different — vastly better — when it’s swirled versus not swirled.


So swirl your matcha, people!  You can’t swirl too much — the more your swirl it, the better it tastes. But you need the right vessel, it’s hard to swirl matcha in a bowl. Our creamers were designed for this very purpose. Whip it up with the frother in the creamer, swirl like a madperson, THEN pour that swirled matcha into your heated bowl or cup.


And maybe this will help: use SWIRL during checkout for a 10 percent discount on everything we have. Good through the entire summer!


Come Celebrate With Us (Next Friday, June 12) + Single Serves are Back!



For everyone in the SF Bay Area, we’re having an open-house party next Friday, June 12, from 6-9 pm. We’re rigging up a matcha keg! Not to be missed. I’ll also be cooking some dishes, and serving plenty of popcorn with matcha butter and matcha salt (seriously; it’s good).  And yes, beer too, and prosecco. We might even break out the Laphroaig if demand calls for it, along with “off the menu” bowls of matcha. It would be lovely to see as many of you on this list as possible!


The other good news is that our shipment of long-awaited single-serves is in! Different design from the last round — these are much easier to transfer into water bottles. 2g of coldbrew original, perfect for a 16-oz water bottle filled with icy water. They are back by popular demand, and they’re 10% off if you enter SINGLESERVESAREBACK. (and while we’re at it, you might as well deduct 10% from everything on the site with the same code).


If you’re planning on coming to the party, could you kindly let us know with a note to eric@breakawaymatcha.com? Otherwise, food may run out quickly!


Hope to see you.



Matcha Has Less Caffeine, But the Caffeine Lasts Longer


Blend 99 1kg bag


We get a lot of calls and emails asking about caffeine and matcha.


The short answer is that is has far less caffeine than brewed coffee does — about a quarter as much (roughly 25mg of caffeine for matcha, roughly 100mg or more for coffee, depending on factors such as steeping time, water temperature, and many others). Some estimates put as much as 200mg of caffeine in brewed coffee, which would mean matcha has about an eighth as much caffeine as coffee. But as a rule of thumb we can generally conclude that matcha has about a fourth the caffeine as brewed coffee.


The slightly expanded answer is that, even though it doesn’t have much caffeine relative to coffee, the relatively small amount of caffeine in matcha lasts a lot longer. How can this be?


The small amounts of caffeine in tea usually take longer to enter the blood stream than does the caffeine in coffee, which tends to be absorbed into the bloodstream just minutes after drinking.  With matcha, it typically takes several hours to fully enter the bloodstream, and can last as long as six hours. Moreover, the “crash” many people experience an hour or two after drinking coffee doesn’t happen with matcha.


The leading theory on why this is so has to do with the amino acid L-theanine, which we’ve discussed at length in these pages before. L-theanine and the many other antioxidants, flavanoids, and phytonutrients in matcha are thought to slow down the body’s absorption of caffeine – resulting in a gentler increase of caffeine in the system and a lengthened period of alertness and wakefulness, with no crash once the caffeine has run its full course. at the end.


Matcha is a rather fun ride — it feels great  to hydrate, to feel a steady stream of serene yet energizing flow, and to feel like you’re at your peak performance.


The Three Ms: Matcha, Meditation, and Medication

matcha bowl on wood 2

It may seem ridiculous to some, but I think of a daily matcha habit as a cross between meditation and medication (with some epicurean fun thrown in to keep things interesting).

We’ve covered the meditation part of matcha in these pages here and here, but to recap: great matcha has large quantities of an amino acid called l-theanine. The higher the quality of matcha, the more l-theanine it has. Lots of people take a synthesized version of l-theanine to help them acquire a type of “flow” (as Mihaly Csikszentmihaly — pronounced MEE-hai CHEEK-sent-mə-HAI-ee — famously calls it), or a stream of “calm energy.”

“Flow,” he writes, “is a a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand.”  In a state of flow, you are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter.

This amino acid acts to temper the stimulatory effects of caffeine — which matcha has in small amounts (about 25mg per 1g serving, or roughly one-quarter that of a cup of brewed coffee) — on our nervous systems, in effect creating a “time release” function; a bowl of matcha typically delivers a steady stream of energy for about four hours, with none of the jitteriness coffee creates for so many people.

L-theanine creates a sense of relaxation in approximately 30-40 minutes after ingestion via at least two different mechanisms. It first directly stimulates the production of alpha brain waves, creating a state of deep relaxation and mental alertness similar to what is achieved through meditation.Very experienced practitioners of meditation tend to have have elevated alpha wave states, including the Dalai Lama and his entourage of long-term Tibetan meditators, who were invited to Stanford’s neurology department to study their brains while they mediated. Lots of alpha waves.

L-theanine is also involved in the formation of gamma amino butyric acid (GABA). GABA — an inhibitory neurotransmitter — inhibits the levels of two other excitatory neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin, producing the relaxation effect

It makes sense on some level. Readers of these pages may recall the Japanese zen monks were (and remain to this day) enthusiastic drinkers of matcha and its high levels of l-theanine, though they couldn’t have known that at the time. They knew that drinking matcha helped them to stay awake during meditation for longer periods (no easy task —if you’ve ever tried siting on a cushion for eight or more hours facing a wall, you’ll know what I mean).

Which brings us to the medication part of matcha. Drinking a daily bowl of matcha IS kind of like taking a daily pill prescribed by your doctor, in that you develop a daily habit, a habit you believe (or at least your doctor believes) is good for your health.

Except with matcha, you get to really enjoy it — you get the epicurean experience of tasting and swallowing something divinely delicious, and you can make as much or as little ritual around the experience as you like. It’s an awesome daily habit that brings mindfulness, joy — Michelin-quality epicurean joy– and the blast of phytonutrients that so many dentists and physicians love. (Productivity enthusiasts love the l-theanine fueled stream of focused energy as well).

So when you think of matcha, consider the three Ms. And if anyone has read this far, and wants to try some hyperpremium, blog readers can get a 10 percent discount by typing  THE3MS during checkout. Please ask questions if you have them!


Matcha, Zen, and Beginner’s Mind

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I’ve talked about the origins of matcha and its deep connections with zen buddhism on this site before, but I thought I might share a personal story.


When I was 19 years old I stumbled, quite literally, into the Mt. Baldy Zen Center, a working zen monastery in the San Gabriel mountains, east of Los Angeles. I was hiking around Mt. Baldy and spotted some sparse-looking small buildings, and decided to go check them out. Inside were a bunch of bald people in black robes cooking. They were incredibly nice to me, and invited me to lunch. It was a simple lunch of brown rice, miso soup, and pickled vegetables, none of which I’d ever had before (I grew up in rural northeaster PA, and no one ever served brown rice, miso, or pickled vegetables). It was an extraordinary day on many levels, and it’s fair to say that it led to a life-long involvement and fascination with Japan, the Japanese language, Japanese food, and zen buddhism, including a 16-year stay in Japan.


I was deeply interested in the lives of the monks; why did they elect to sit there for a few hours a day in zazen (sitting meditation), shave their heads, wear black robes, and cook the way they cooked? What led them there? (A dozen years later, Leonard Cohen began practicing zen there, which really put Mt. Baldy on the map.)


One of the monks, an exceedingly kind New Zealander named John, would patiently put up with my incessant questioning over a bowl of very strange tea, a viscous and VERY bitter brew he whipped with a weird-looking bamboo whisk. He called it “matcha.” He was in retrospect using very inexpensive, very bitter matcha, but I couldn’t know that at the time, and it couldn’t have mattered less; what mattered was sitting with him in a tiny room and absorbing his remarkable energy and knowledge about zen.


Monks in 12th-century (and onward) Japan did something very similar. They prepared bowls of matcha, as both metaphors for mindfulness in preparation and body movements and to simply enjoy one another’s company over tea in the simplest environment imaginable: a tiny, unadorned hut made just for enjoying the simplicity of a cup of well-made tea.


Matcha was also used by monks as a meditation aid: it was much easier to stay awake during meditation after a bowl of matcha.


The simplicity of monks preparing tea for one another caught the attention of Japan’s aristocracy, many of whom took their social cues from Buddhists (zen monks had a great deal of cachet at the time). The upper classes rapidly took to the art of preparing a beautiful bowl of matcha, but the movements in making the tea gradually became more stylized and ornate, which served to distinguish them as cultured, sophisticated —  in stark contrast to the people of the lower strata of the caste system, who, presumably, slurped down their tea in far less-polished ways. The tea ceremony was born from this distinction.


There is a lovely phrase in Japanese called shoshin: “beginner’s mind.” It refers to the zen practice of letting the mind rediscover a child’s sense of wonder about how the world works. It’s an open mind that includes both doubt and possibility, to consciously choose to see both everyday and uncommon things and thoughts as new and fresh. It is to be cultivated in all aspects of life, from routine tasks like making breakfast or putting gas in your car to more complex activities like raising a child or nurturing a business. Beginner’s mind is the essence of what John and most zen monks throughout history were trying to cultivate.


I try to practice beginner’s mind with every bowl of matcha. There’s always something new to notice. Sips of matcha can trigger all kinds of strange and long-forgotten memories and experiences, all of which float by like a fragmented movie playing in the background. But the joy and simplicity of just noticing its color, texture, taste, and very long finish is such a pleasure, such a welcome and delicious pause from the demands of contemporary life here at the end of 2014.


Shuryu Suzuki wrote beautifully on this subject in his classic, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind (Weatherhill, 1970). HIghly recommended reading for anyone even remotely interested.


(The monk in the photo above is the great teacher, painter, chef, and all-around amazing human being Ninsho Kakinuma. I took the photo on a walk with him several years ago at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center)


Profiles of Hardcore Matcha Drinkers — Amanda Lee Peers


amanda singing


A little while back I got the most delightful email — it was from Amanda Lee Peers, a singer/songwriter from Rochester, New York who was really into matcha. She mentioned that she was a contestant on the hit TV show The Voice, and that Gwen Stefani, one of the judges on the show, had taken Amanda under her tutelage. Amanda didn’t quite make the finals on the show, but she wowed millions of people, including me, with the raw power of her voice and stage presence. I asked this matcha-sipping wonder if she’d mind being interviewed here,and she graciously agreed.


1) You had a fundamentalist Christian upbringing, your girlfriend is your muse and inspiration, and you’re a matcha addict. That’s quite the path! Us matcha addicts would love a summary of who you are, as told by you and not a publicist!


I’m a singer, songwriter currently living in Rochester, NY. I recently appeared on NBC’s Season 7 of The Voice as a contestant on Gwen Stefani’s team – which was an amazing experience! I’ve been playing guitar for 16 years and singing (outside my bedroom) for about the last 5 or 6 years. I played with a band called The Driftwood Sailors a couple years ago. We released an album, opened for Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers as well as 90’s band the Spin Doctors. We had a lot of fun. Now I perform solo and am working on a solo album to release in spring/summer of 2015.


Besides all that music stuff, I love to travel, am an avid matcha drinker, old moped enthusiast, and lucid dreamer. I recently decided to take up surfing Lake Ontario — yes, there are waves on The Great Lakes.


2) Not a question per se but we can’t wait till the word MATCHA makes it into your lyrics. OK a question: tell us about your method of writing a song from scratch. Lyrics first, or music first? Or neither?


I don’t really have a go-to method for songwriting. Sometimes I’ll hear a melody and make up words to it, then sometimes I’ll just write a whole bunch of stuff down then start singing the words and the melody will come naturally. I’ve found that the best way to come up with songs is just to write every day, even if it feels forced or sounds terrible. Sooner or later you’re bound to come up with something great!


(editor’s note: this is true with just about any art; it’s the everyday-ness of it that produces something great)


3) Do you like caffeine in general when performing and just working, or is it the special matcha buzz you like? Do you drink coffee?


The only thing I’m drinking while singing at a show is water. It’s the only sure fire thing that won’t affect my voice or dry me out. I love drinking matcha while working though. I used to be a big coffee drinker. While working on The Voice I wanted to do everything I could to keep my voice healthy, one of which was to stop drinking coffee, the other was to stop taking allergy medicine every day. I’ve successfully done both! Once I discovered matcha, I was hooked. I’ve also always been a huge regular green tea drinker so I made the switch from coffee to matcha no problem. My favorite is to make a couple of cups of matcha in the morning and get to work on my music. I love the focused, clean energy matcha gives. And it doesn’t give you that awful rot-gut feeling coffee does if you drink too much.


4) When are you bringing your music to the west coast? Where/how can we buy your music?


I’d love to bring my music to the West Coast! I’m actually looking to move to a larger city sometime in the next year and California is on my list of places I’m considering. But until then, right now the best thing is for people to join my mailing list at www.amandaleepeers.com and to link up with me on social media to hear what my latest music releases are. I’m working on recording solo material in hopes of releasing for spring/summer 2015. However, I did release an album with a band called The Driftwood Sailors called “White Horses & Black Jeans.” That has a bit more of a rock vibe compared to my solo material, but if while you’re waiting for my solo album to come out, check that out! It is available on iTunes as are the two songs I performed on The Voice.


5) What’s your favorite way to enjoy matcha? Any rituals?


My favorite way to enjoy matcha is to get up early when it’s quiet and make a few cups of hot matcha. No TV, just peace and quiet and matcha. It’s funny, drinking matcha is almost like a lifestyle change. I would never do that with coffee. Coffee was something I needed to survive the mornings. Now, matcha is something I have to enjoy the mornings.


Thank you Amanda! Here’s a video of our favorite matcha-obsessed musician doing one of her favorite original songs, “Songs of Freedom.”

10 Good Reasons to Develop a Daily Matcha Habit





This week I’ve been rereading Charles Duhigg’s utterly absorbing book, The Power of Habitsand am struck by how increasingly sophisticated the scientific understanding of habits has become — how they’re formed, and how they can be disrupted and changed. For anyone interested in developing excellent ways to change old habits or start new ones, you won’t find a better book.


Like a lot of people reading this, matcha for me has become a daily habit.I have a fairly robust matcha habit that includes a bowl or two of hot, hyperpremium matcha, several 16oz bottles of coldbrew, and, often, some kind of culinary matcha snack or at least a sprinkle of matcha salt over my beloved poached eggs. (I recently saw a recipe for matcha granola by my friend Chika that looked interesting, one by Cheryl Malik that looked great, and yet another tasty-looking one from Vanessa — time to make some matcha granola.)


All this adds up to roughly five or six 1g-servings of matcha  a day. For me this was a conscious decision, since I wanted to radically increase my intake of whole green tea (leaves and all), for all the usual reasons:


1) replenishes phytonutrients needed for next-day alcohol recovery — important for wine drinkers like myself!

2) boosts metabolism — I need this for the crazy amount of food I seem to eat.

3) keeps me maximally hydrated — I’ve always had a problem drinking enough water.

4) employs plaque scrubbers  — matcha is great for your teeth and gums!

5) antioxidant blast repairs free radical damage caused by oxidation of cells.

6) huge l-theanine intake creates a super-relaxed yet intense focus for work.

7) fights fatigue — caffeine + amino acids = dynamite energy.

8) sweetens your breath — pretty much the opposite of coffee.

9) great for skin — matcha’s high polyphenol content can inhibit UV radiation-induced skin damage. Why did I get so many sunburns as a teenager? Ugh.

10) detoxifies the body — matcha’s massive chlorophyll  content helps to naturally remove heavy metals and chemical toxins from the body.


Here’s yet another reason to give matcha a shot — readers of the blog can take an additional 10% of any order by typing BLOG10. Not sure how long that will last but for now it works!


So many habits are unconscious and somewhat destructive. Read Duhigg’s book to understand how you can make healthy habits work for you.

Why Dentists LOVE Matcha

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“Would you care for a cup of matcha?” asked my DENTAL HYGIENIST the other day at the end of my cleaning. As you might imagine, this piqued my interest.


My dentist, it turns out, has had a lengthy love affair with matcha. He loves all the usual things many of us love about matcha, but he especially loves what matcha does for overall dental health.


The exceedingly high catechin (notably EGCG) content of matcha is what interests him most. These catechins have antibacterial effects, and in essence they act as microscopic plaque scrubbers that can help prevent cavity formation and periodontal disease.


Because they inhibit the growth of the bacteria that cause plaque, this dentist has come to think of a cup or glass of matcha after a meal as a delicious liquid floss. And, for that matter, a mouthwash, since these catechins inhibit the bacteria that cause bad breath as well. Unlike coffee, matcha won’t stain your teeth either. Not bad added bonuses for a delicious postprandial shot of matcha.


So if oral hygiene is a priority for you, you now have yet another reason drink it!


Matcha and Water


pouring matcha in eggshell cup


Oddly, I haven’t given much thought to the role that water plays in maximal enjoyment of matcha. I’ve written about matcha and water temperature before, but not much about water itself, and what kind of water we drink on a daily basis.


I feel fortunate to live and work in Marin County, CA, with its supply of lovely rain runoff from the slopes of Mount Tamalpais. Marin is host to California’s very first municipal water district (the mighty MMWD, Marin Municipal Water District); we’ve been thinking about quality water and water management for a long time.


Nearly 75% of MMWD’s water comes from more than 20,000 acres of protected watershed on Mt. Tam, in the grassy hills of gorgeous west Marin, into seven large reservoirs (which are themselves lovely places to visit and hike around). These areas are mostly forested MMWD-owned lands and other undeveloped rural lands. Water from these reservoirs is treated and filtered before delivery into my and my neighbors’ homes.


And yet: despite having some of the cleanest, most carefully tended water in the country–and Marin being Marin–many of us still filter our water. In fact the Brita-type carbon filter (which my family personally uses) doesn’t do much except remove some of the chlorine in the water, which can also be achieved by simply filling up pitchers of water and letting them sit out (all chlorine in the water will, apparently, evaporate in about 24 hours). Could it be placebo, that I just think filtered tastes better, therefore it actually does?


In blind water tastings –some of you will recall that I’ve never met a blind tasting, of any substance, I didn’t like — I show a clear preference for filtered. It tastes somehow “softer” and easier to drink. Tastier. It might take a few hundred double-blind tastings to really determine a preference, but does anyone on earth in 2014 actually have time for this kind of thing? I’m going with my preference for filtered, biased or not.


So it was with some trepidation that I tasted some “ionized” water recently at a matcha tasting event we did at Yogaworks. They had a trippy-looking ionizing machine by AlkaViva that filtered and ionized the water to some insane degree. Color me skeptical!


But it did taste pretty damn good. I did a quick blind test using water from the fancy machine and from the filtered tap. There was no comparison, it actually tasted better from the machine. “Better” meaning no hints of metal or gas. Just some incredibly pure substance that my body wanted more of.


So of course I wanted to taste some matcha made with this water. Whipped up two bottles of Coldbrew to taste blind as well, one with water made from the machine and one from the filtered tap. Again, no comparison. I didn’t think it was possible for Coldbrew to taste any better, but it did.


Does that mean I’m going to rush out and buy a $2,000+ machine to give me the cleanest possible water?  No, of course not. But it did get me thinking: how much is all that extra pleasure worth? How much is the knowledge that I’m drinking heavy-metal-free water worth? Does the placebo effect kick in? Will I drink more matcha if it tastes so much better with better water? Should my daughter be drinking purer water, and if so, how much is that worth?


I don’t know the answers to any of those questions. Would love to hear from you if you do!


Hara Hachibu, Umami, and Matcha (Plus a Recipe for Matcha Truffles)

matcha truffles


Human beings crave the sense of being satiated. It’s a delightful feeling to be “full” in the best possible sense of the term. For many of us (including greedy-monster me), we keep eating AFTER reaching that optimum place where it feels just right to be perfectly full and not excessively full. How to hit that sweet spot of just-right full, and avoid going over?


There’s a wonderful expression in Japanese that captures one way to think about this: “hara hachibu” literally means “stomach 80%,” but, more accurately, it means “you should stop eating when you’re 80% full.”


How do you know when you’re 80% full? By mindfully checking in every time you put something in your mouth. And you keep up the mindfulness throughout the meal or snack. You basically keep a “how full am I?” mindfulness meter running throughout the meal.


This is impossible if we wolf down our food. Some deep-DNA autopilot takes over with the message, “don’t stop! get your maximum calories while you can!” and it tastes great and you just keep going. You don’t stop and ask yourself, “how full am I?” and assign a percentage, you just don’t.


In the beginning I might suggest just two mindful interventions, one at 50% full, and the other at 80% full. After some conscious practice, you can begin to notice subtler percentages like 10% full and 25% full.


But 80% is the main one. The same deep-DNA / limbic system / reptilian brain doesn’t want you to stop at 80%, it’s going to insist you keep going. But food in an 80%-full stomach continues to expand, and if you simply put the chopsticks down when you think you’re at 80, five minutes later you’re likely to feel 100% full.


You can always eat more if you’ve misjudged, and still feel peckish at what you thought was 80%. But stopping when you think you’ve hit 80 is a wonderful practice, as is the mindful practice of assigning a percentage fullness AS you eat.


And no, it doesn’t ruin the pure animal pleasure of eating great food. In fact it adds to it, because turning on the mindfulness “how full am I?” meter has a wonderful side effect: everything tastes better, and you notice more flavors and textures. You notice everything in great detail. It’s like taking a food-pleasure bath.


So where does matcha come in?

Matcha has a very special satiety property. It’s one of matcha’s more interesting and pleasurable aspects (one of many).


Because the tea is so rich in amino acids, it absolutely pops with umami, that brothy, meaty, mushroomy, oceany flavor that’s packed with glutamates. When you drink a cup or bowl of matcha, you feel sated and happy. You’re not jonesing for anything, you’re just …. sated. You rarely feel and kind of between-meals jones to snack or to mindllessly eat something.


This is in stark contrast to coffee, for me at least — i NEED to have nibbles of coffee-friendly foods when I drink coffee. So for anyone looking to cut overall calories, there are many worse ways than a daily, or twice a day, matcha practice.

And on that note, and speaking of tempting nibbles, try these matcha truffles sometime. They’re easy to make and disappear rather quickly wherever they make their appearance.


These little gems take only a few minutes of prep time, then some cooling down time in the fridge, then a few more minutes to shape the chocolate into balls. They make beautiful gifts for friends, wrapped up in a pretty box. Makes about 50 truffles.


  • 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped finely
  • 8 ounces heavy cream
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ cup or so Dutch cocoa
  • 1 tablespoon matcha
  • pinch of fleur-de-sel, Malden, or other fine sea salt


1) Using a large sturdy knife, chop the chocolate finely and place it in a large mixing bowl.

2) Bring cream to a simmer over gentle heat, add the maple syrup and brown sugar, and stir until dissolved, about one to two minutes.

3) Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate, mix thoroughly until smooth, and pour/scrape into a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat (silpat), and smooth it out with a rubber spatula. Cool in the refrigerator for about an hour.

4) On a cleaning cutting board or other large surface, spread several tablespoons of cocoa out.

5) Using a spoon, scoop out about a heaping teaspoon of the cooled chocolate, roll it around in the cocoa with your fingers, and make a chocolate ball, using the palms of your cocoa-dusted hands. Repeat until all the chocolate is used – you should wind up with about 50(ish) truffles. Smaller tends to be better than larger.

6) Line them up on a tray or plate, and, using a fine sieve, dust them generously with the matcha. Roll around some more in the matcha, and dust them again. Top with a very light sprinkling of good salt (Malden-type salt works well here).

The Breakaway Guide to Purchasing Matcha

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Confused about which matcha to try? You’re not alone.


The first step is to figure out why you’re interested in matcha. It basically boils down to two reasons for most people: health benefits, and incredible taste.


If you’re looking for health benefits only, and exquisite taste isn’t your primary concern, then the culinary matcha is far and away the best bang for the buck. It’s very good as cold-brew, and it’s fantastic in smoothies and as an ingredient in all desserts. It even makes a good latte, since the fat and (often) sugar in lattes essentially mask the minor flavor flaws of the tea (and when I say flavor flaws, I’m being picky; it tastes great, but doesn’t deliver the natural sweetness, umami blast, and long stunning finish of the hyperpremium blends). You of course COULD use one of the hyperpremium sipping matcha in milk-based sweetened matcha drinks, and it would certainly be very, very good, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll get 10x the enjoyment as you would the culinary, since fat and sugar coat the palate and render your ability to detect flaws in the matcha inert — it will just taste like a milky sugary matcha, and that’s ok if you like it that way!


If you care about the health benefits AND are after more sophisticated flavor profiles, then you should try one of the hyperpremium sipping blends, which have even more health benefits than the culinary matcha (and are especially loaded with l-theanine) in addition to increasingly levels of epicurean nirvana, The scale of tastiness and overall desirability– and by that I mean the five pillars of great matcha:


  • electric color
  • maximum umami
  • lack of bitterness and plethora of natural sweetness
  • good/balanced acid structure, and
  • extra-long, beautiful finish

goes up with each Blend, although rarity is a factor too.


Truly great matcha is such a labor-intensive process; it requires tea plants that are a minimum of 50 years old, it’s completely unscaleable, and it needs serious knowhow from obsessive farmers who tend to be at the helm of farms that go back 20+ generations of family farmers working the same plot of land.


 * * *


There’s a big jump in quality from culinary to Blend 94, which is lovely to sip on its own, nothing added. And the quality scale continues upward, with another large leap in quality from the 94 to the 97; they’re almost totally different matcha with different flavor profiles, each comes from a specific terroir in Uji, just outside of Kyoto. I’ve served the entire line up, blind, to lots of Japanese matcha connoisseurs, and almost everyone likes the 94 best. It’s the one they’re most used to drinking, with faint twinges of bitterness and a real sass to it. This quality of matcha is most common in the tea schools that teach proper ceremonial matcha etiquette. It has the most bitterness of the four sipping matcha.


The 97 is a rare matcha that lacks even faint whiffs of bitterness — its natural sweetness stuns most people the first time they try it. It is a tremendous value priced at just $1.75 per serving, considering its rarity and sweetness. How much is a serving of Italian truffle? How about fois gras? How much is a glass of decent wine? How much is a glass of BAD wine? $1.75 for this level of epicurean experience is unheard of. What can one buy for $1.75? Gum? A candy bar?


Fanatical matcha connoisseurs tend to go for Blends 100 and 99. They’re grateful for the health benefits, but they’re primarily driven by taste and epicurean experiences.


With the 99, things go ethereal. Same farmer/producer of the 97, a youngish man who’s into experimenting with his wonderful crops. The 99 is his “reserve” matcha, and this is the one I want for my final sip of matcha — hell, final sip of anything. Exceedingly rare matcha for a mere $2.25/serving.


The Blend 100 is the rarest of all, so refined that it feels almost lighter than air. I might argue that it has less character than the 99, but it has such finesse that all matcha connoisseurs should try it at least once just as a glimpse into the heights matcha can soar on an elegance scale. Quantities are small, and much of the annual allotment is already spoken for from our chefly friends.


Curious connoisseurs should try them all, and figure out which one offers the most special delight. And regular drinkers should take advantage of the discounts offered with the larger quantities.


As always, we aim for stellar customer service — we specialize in unusual requests!


The Many Joys of Coldbrew Matcha

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Coldbrew matcha. Really?


Really. We’ll talk about the pleasures of drinking icy-cold matcha in a second, but first: what do I mean by coldbrew?


Coldbrew matcha simply means matcha prepared with cold water; as with coldbrew coffee, the water for making coldbrew matcha is never heated; we use icy cold water to start. But unlike coldbrew coffee, coldbrew matcha doesn’t require any lengthy or complicated extraction technique. We simply add matcha to a water-bottle, large water-dispensing unit, or even five-gallon pony keg, add cold water, and shake the hell out of it. That’s enough to temporarily suspend the matcha particles in the cold water long enough to actually drink it. As with warm shots of matcha, It never fully dissolves, it simply suspends in water. If you leave it alone for a few hours, the undissolved matcha will eventually settle on the bottom of the vessel.


One can play with proportions of matcha to water but I’ve found that 1g of matcha (half teaspoon) to 8 ounces of cold water is just about right. If you like it thicker, use slightly more matcha.


Here’s the exact procedure:


1) Fill a 16 oz water bottle almost to the top with ice water (leave a little room to make shaking easier). You can use either icy-cold water without actual ice, or simply add ice cubes and water and let it get cold — either way works well. You can also use a mason jar, or any tall skinny jar with a lid.


2) Scoop 2g matcha (about a teaspoon) into the bottle, and shake hard! You’ll see billions of tiny bubbles start to float up and form a gorgeous crema on top. Let it sit for just a minute to allow the crema to build.


3) You’re done! You can drink it directly from the bottle or pour into smaller glasses.


You can also use a Vitamix or other powerful blender to prepare coldbrew matcha, especially if you like it slushy-cold. Simply add a small quantity of ice and use the 1g matcha to 8 ounces water formula, and blend thoroughly.


Note that coldbrew matcha isn’t “iced matcha” — iced matcha is typically matcha prepared with hot water, and then ice is added.


There’s nothing quite like coldbrew matcha on a hot day; it seems to go directly to the brain’s key satiation spots as it hits all the right notes. for thirst quenching. It also looks amazingly tantalizing in a tall glass!


The cool thing about coldbrew: you can brew any grade of matcha, and they all taste great. Drinking Blends 97, 99, and 100 in this form is an ethereal experience like no other. The 94 makes a beautiful coldbrew matcha; its ever-so-slight bitterness when prepared hot isn’t detectable at cold temperatures.


But the best part is that we’e specially formulated several new blends especially for coldbrewing. They are priced quite a bit lower than our hyperpremium blends because more of the tencha leaf is used, giving us larger quantities, hence the lower price. Also, because the freezing temperature of the water slightly numbs the palate and top of the tongue, we can get away with using larger leaves (as opposed to new-growth-only for our hyperpremiums), which would impart a slightly bitter quality if prepared hot. It’s simply not an issue — the coldbrew blends are quite sweet — when icewater is used. We’ve even found two organic blends that work well as coldbrew, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time.


So if you’ve never tried coldbrew matcha, here’s your chance! If your experience is anything like mine, the delicious taste and delightlful health benefits will turn you into a daily drinker pretty quickly.


We’re also developing some single-serve packets of coldbrew that I hope to have up on the site by late fall, perfect for on-the-go use — just stick a few in your car, purse, backpack, or suitcase and empty one into any cold bottle of water and shake. Heaven on the road. Stay tuned for those!



Building Trust with Matcha

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Natural selection has equipped human beings with exquisite bullshit alarms.

We use them all the time: when meeting someone for the first time, when watching movies, when trying a product, or, especially, when we encounter advertising. The brain will light up in red blotches when it perceives possible deception or downright danger. One would assume that brains that didn’t develop this important trait didn’t make it very far into subsequent generations . . . .

How do you get someone to trust you, especially if you’ve never met before and are meeting for the first time on the internet, through a website or email?

One way is to show that *other* people — presumably trustworthy people — trust you, and therefore the odds are in your favor. “Borrowed” trust is indeed important, and it’s why we here at Breakaway Matcha HQ show quotes from people we feel are very trustworthy indeed, including wellness experts, sommeliers, yoga ambassadors, writers, cookbook authors, well-known chefs, and of course everyday people too.

But the only way, ultimately, to get someone to trust you is to do so one-on-one. It’s why we like to get to know the special people who purchase matcha from us. We are this pretty awesome tribe of people who have taken charge of our own health and well-being. And I’ve always got the time to get to know my fellow tribers. It’s also fun to profile, in this space, some of our tribe.

If anyone knows some good proven ways to increase trust, please let us know! Because in the end, it really is all about trust.

The 10-Minute Matcha Meditation Practice

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This simple and delightful morning ritual will change the quality of your day — and hence your life. Try it for just a week; there is absolutely nothing to lose. It might even give you the power to create other changes you’d like to make. It works for me. 

1) Get up earlier than everyone in your household – you’ll need about 10 minutes of solitude, but you might prefer 20 or longer. But you only NEED about 10. 

2) Don’t shower, just go to the kitchen and pour yourself a glass of  water. Drink a medium size glass of water, ideally with a squeeze of citrus in it. The body needs this rehydration after sleep, so make this a daily habit.

3) Take five minutes to prepare a beautiful bowl of matcha, doing it as mindfully as possible. It sounds complicated, but it really isn’t, especially after you’ve done it a few times, after which it oddly becomes quite automatic. These actions go into muscle memory in no time flat. 

    Set a small amount of water to boil. While it heats up:

* Get the matcha out of the fridge, and grab your matcha toolkit (sieve, scoop, and frother) Ideally these items just stand vertically in a tall pretty cup, and just live unobtrusively on the counter someplace easily accessible. You’ll also need a small matcha creamer or a mug, and a gorgeous bowl. The bowl can be anything at all, but ideally it’s a bowl you especially like.

* Grab a hefty scoop and sieve your matcha into the creamer

* Pour two ounces boiling water into your bowl (not the creamer), and let it sit for 10 seconds or so.

.* Transfer that cooled but still quite hot water into the creamer (bowl should now be empty and hot)

* Vigorously swirl creamer as if it’s a wine glass, and use the frothing tool to create crema

.* Pour tea into bowl

4) Take your bowl of tea and go sit someplace for five minutes, ideally with some kind of view of nature, no matter how modest.

5) Sip your tea and really taste it. Try to inhale when you’re “chewing” it, and exhale as you swallow, and notice how long it finishes. You can often still taste the tea a full 30 seconds after swallowing it.

6) Try to wish yourself and your body well, and just feel grateful to be awake, as awake as it’s possible to be.

7) Start your normal day.

8) Try to start most days like this. You’ll totally miss them when you don’t do it.

Profiles of Hardcore Matcha Drinkers–Dave “Yeah Dave” Romanelli

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It’s a complete pleasure to introduce the inimitable Dave Romanelli as a hardcore matcha drinker. Dave’s energy is utterly boundless and utterly contagious. He has helped thousands of people educate themselves on the wonders of yoga and the awakened life. He has no problem teaching classes with titles like, “Yoga and Chocolate,” and “Yoga and Wine.” We need more iconoclasts like him, and we couldn’t be happier about his mission to get everyday mortals to live more fully in the moment. We of course also love him for switching his obsessive coffee habit to an obsessive matcha habit. Dave is an original!


I have to ask: why does everyone call you “yeah Dave?”

In college, I had a penchant for asking hypothetical questions that didn’t have answers (think Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High). My friends gave up on answering the questions and would just say “Yeah Dave.”


I absolutely LOVE your mission to make meditation — dare I say inner peace? — accessible to everyone, especially young(ish) hip urban people. Give us your best tip on how to incorporate a simple meditation practice into our daily lives.

Once you get it, meditation is the most wonderful thing in the world. Until then, it can be painfully boring. So here’s a good way to start. instead of sitting with your eyes closed, set an alarm for 1:11pm. When it goes off, take a minute to chill out, to breathe, to push back from the computer and relax. Once we start to connect “meditation” to “feeling amazing,” we are more likely to try it. And once you make it a habit, everything changes. They say “meditation creates more time than it takes.”


What does wellness mean to you? what simple things can an average person do to feel at her best?

Wellness is who you are in your natural state, when you relax, when you are savoring matcha, watching a sunset, indulging in the simple pleasures that form your most lasting memories. from that foundation of peace and joy, health can root down and blossom. But without that foundation, health will always be elusive.

An average person should start by taking at least one moment each day to really savor life. By that I mean, no worries, no work, just do something for yourself that you will remember when you put your head on the pillow at night. So many days go by where we don’t remember a single thing that happened and that is a global sociological epidemic. But the solution is simple. ENJOY YOUR JOURNEY


How does matcha fit into your daily routine?

Matcha changes everything. It’s the way i start almost every day. Gives me energy, it’s a ritual, it’s supremely healthy, just a magical way to get started on the right foot.


Why are you so damn happy all the time?




The Triple Matcha Shot, Gateway to All Good Things


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Happy new year to all matcha fans (and to everyone else, for that matter). There’s something special about the first week of the year — the holiday madness has ebbed and we get back to work, but thoughts toward the possibilities of the new year flit about. It’s a time to THINK BIG, to really ask yourself how you’d like to spend your energies during the year, and to imagine how you’ll feel at this time next year. You’ve got an entire year to make something happen. And the way to make big things happen to is break them down into small — tiny,  even — things.

In the end, we really need to concentrate on the day, the 24-hour cycle. We can only do so much in any given 24-hour stretch, but when you stack 365 of them in a row, an enormous amount can be accomplished. This is where daily habits come in.

A daily habit of stopping to prepare a beautiful cup of matcha is one that creates so many good things:

* you practice being mindful while you prep the tea

* you enjoy matcha’s remarkable visual appeal and taste

* you get an antioxidant and phytonutrient blast

* your focus sharpens as you become fully awake

* you hydrate

* you enter “the zone” of productivity

* you flood your body with brain fuel

There are many others but I’ll show some restraint.

Lately I’ve been preparing matcha in a slightly new way — it’s highly recommended.

Instead of the usual prep in a creamer and pouring the shot into one our lovely Aletha Soule cups, it’s both convenient and fun to make the matcha in a single vessel, typically a tall-ish cup that can accommodate the vigorous whisking (with the Aerolatte) we’re about to do.

What’s really fun and tasty is to make a triple shot. You’ll need about three grams of matcha (about 1.5 teaspoons) instead of the usual one gram (half teaspoon). Sift that amount into the cup using a strainer/sieve, and pour about 2 ounces of hot (180 degrees F, and not hotter please, or you’ll ruin it) water into the cup, and do our usual frothing technique. You’ll make some marvelous crema, truly world class crema, with these proportions. You can then pour some more hot water into the cup to thin it out a bit and to create a larger cup of matcha. You can even create some matcha barista-like art — notice the outer circle in the crema — simply by pouring additional hot water in thin streams.

I often have one of these after breakfast. There’s no better way to start the day. Or the year!