From the kitchen

Skip the coffee and try matcha, as a drink and as a dessert

Angelica Welch | Staff Writer

Matcha, a powderized, concentrated form of green tea, has all the health benefits of it's classic counterpart and more.

Coffee lovers are trading in their cup of joe for a different caffeine-packed beverage. As of late, trends such as green tea lattes have been confusing those used to the classic model of tea — leaves, water and maybe a spoonful of honey.

Despite the name, these drinks such as green tea lattes are made using matcha. Matcha is a fine powder made from ground tea leaves, which can then be mixed into hot water using a bamboo brush to make basic matcha green tea.

The positive health benefits of green tea have been discussed for centuries. As a pure, more concentrated form of green tea that is actually ingested, matcha powder has even more benefits than its counterpart. It is especially rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, which may reduce your risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Green tea can reduce the formation of free radicals — which are attributed to aging — and also reduces the risk of diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. The catechin compounds in green tea can help protect neurons from degeneration, which results in memory loss. The chance of developing type 2 diabetes is also reduced with regular consumption of green tea, as it can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels.

Matcha also has high caffeine levels — which is great for the college student who doesn’t enjoy coffee but still wants a buzz in the morning. It also reduces anxiety and contains the amino acid L-theanine, which is said to work hand in hand with caffeine to improve brain function without making you jittery. It is also often used in diet pills because of its ability to increase fat burning cells and mobilize fatty acids, which improves physical performance.

There are many other ways to enjoy matcha other than just as a tea or in a latte. Adding it into baked goods, smoothies, yogurt and soups can provide a little extra flavor in addition to all of the health benefits that come along with green tea.

I decided that instead of overpaying for a green tea latte at Starbucks, I would take a stab at making it myself. Walking through Whole Foods, I came across the expansive tea and coffee aisle. Matcha usually comes in a tin, but is also found in boxes right along with the green tea bags. For this recipe, I decided to select Rishi Everyday Matcha, which is organic culinary grade green tea powder. At $14, matcha does not come cheap — like most things at Whole Foods — but the package indicates that this bag contains enough tea for 25 cups, which makes the price seem reasonable for the quality.

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Angelica Welch | Staff writer

First, I decided to try to make a green tea matcha latte at home. Surprisingly simple, all I needed was water, milk, sugar and the matcha powder. You can make an iced or hot latte, the iced version resembling bubble tea. For the hot latte, put 1 tablespoon of matcha powder in the bottom of a mug. Add 2 tablespoons of warm water and stir until you see a smooth paste form. After that all you need to do is whisk in hot milk until there are no chunks and the tea is a light green color. Super quick, simple and delicious — there is no reason to spend the money at Starbucks when making it at home is this easy.

The internet is full of matcha recipes. Huffington Post, Cosmopolitan and Allrecipes all offer countless ways to use your matcha in places other than a mug. The recipe I decided to try was an Oreo with a matcha-cream filling.

For the cookies, all you need is flour, unsweetened cocoa powder, salt, butter, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a stand mixer, cream softened butter and brown sugar on a high setting until light and fluffy – it usually takes about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and then slowly combine the dry ingredients, with the mixer on a low setting. Roll out the batter and use a cookie cutter to cut out an even amount of dough — each cookie requires a top and a bottom. Put the cut cookie dough on parchment-lined baking sheets and place in the oven at 325-degrees for 20 minutes. All that is left is the cream, which is just softened butter, powdered sugar and a tablespoon of matcha powder blended together until smooth.

Use caution when adding matcha to recipes though — since it is so concentrated you only need a little to experience the flavor.

The magic green powder that is matcha is a beneficial and delicious replacement for your morning cup of coffee. It’s as easy as mixing water and powder but can also be transformed into more unique culinary creations.

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