The Triple Matcha Shot, Gateway to All Good Things

 

cup of matcha600

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!

5 Reasons to Drink Matcha Instead of Coffee

raw and as tea

I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I have always loved good coffee, still love it, and will likely always love it. But I don’t love it nearly as much as I love matcha. Here are five reasons to kickstart your day with matcha:

1)  Matcha has a better caffeine high. By “better” I mean that coffee’s caffeine high wreaks more havoc on the body. It starts off with a blast, and ends in a crash. Coffee causes spikes in adrenaline glucose and insulin levels, which in turn create jitteriness, nervousness, and, at least for me, often crazy hunger pangs.

Matcha, in contrast, does a better job of creating a calm alertness, with just a quarter the caffeine. There are no spikes and crashes, it just comes on gently and leaves just as gently. No adrenal weirdness, no glucose spike, and no need for pastry; it satiates like nothing else, making it the perfect treat for anyone worried about their weight. The 25 mg (or so) of caffeine bind with matcha’s phytonutrients (especially L-theanine) in a way that slows the body’s absorption of the caffeine; it typically lasts at least three hours, though some people report feeling it for as long as six or seven.

2) Better breath. There really is no comparison here. Matcha is also better for your teeth: it thwarts the bacteria that causes plaque, making it a powerful ally for everyday oral hygiene. Coffee breath and enamel staining? This is a no brainer.

3) Better skin. Ever notice the skin of hardcore coffee drinkers? Matcha helps clear up acne, and has been used for centuries by Japanese women as a facial mask. Matcha’s antibacterial properties help to give skin a natural glow.

4) More antioxidants. Matcha is ridiculously full of catechins, flavonoids, and polyphenols, especially the mighty epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which has been linked to so many health benefits and has therapeutic applications to the treatment of so many disorders, including cancer.

5) Great matcha is WAY easier to make than great coffee is.

Matcha has the reputation of being difficult to make, but seriously: scoop sifted tea into cup, add hot water, froth. All of 30 seconds to perfection (assuming you’re starting with great matcha, of course). Great coffee should be measured (20 grams seems to be the most common weight), freshly ground, then steeped or steamed, using a variety of complicated and expensive machinery. And then there’s the waiting for the machine to do its thing.

Needless to say, matcha is not intended to prevent, treat, or cure any disease; it’s just green tea, albeit a very special one that has all kinds of interesting health properties. And because there are no known downsides or side effects to regular consumption of matcha, there is little to lose in making the switch from coffee to matcha, at least some of the time.

You needn’t give up coffee altogether (unless your doctor tells you to, of course) — I sure don’t plan to. But do give matcha try; you have nothing to lose but stained teeth, bad breath, and heart-pounding jitters. And you might have a whole new world of wellness to gain.