Thursday, November 29, 2007

Matcha! Matcha! Matcha!

I first experimented with Matcha way back in June, when I received my “Matcha Starter Kit”. As is probably common, I whipped up a bowl that was far too strong and bitter for my liking (shown to the left). I meant to experiment with it again, but the matcha tin went into the refrigerator, and I am sorry to say, I never quite got back to it. Then a couple weeks ago I was cleaning out the fridge, found the tin of matcha powder, and remembered that matcha actually does have a shelf life, and that I should probably start drinking it.

So last week, when I was having one of those days where you just can’t wake up, I mixed up a bowl of matcha to drink with my lunch. Somewhat fearful of a repeat from the last experience, I used cooler water (steaming) and more of it rather than following the directions (which I seem to have lost anyways). And I found the resulting brew quite palatable…much sweeter and mellower than my introduction had been. I enjoyed it very much, with the added benefit of being much more awake than I normally am for work that afternoon. So I decided to do an experiment this week.

It’s common knowledge that matcha tea is extremely healthy overall as a beverage – packed with polyphenals and antioxidants that have been shown to protect against cancer, etc. And now that I know to brew it a little cooler than “just under boiling” for my own tastes, it’s quite enjoyable too. Add that to the aesthetic pleasure of the tools used to prepare it, and the wonderful heavy bowl to drink from, and it’s an overall winner. But those aren’t the only reasons I drink tea.

I am a caffeine addict – have been since I was in high school. And the thought of a tea with high amounts of that particularly desirable substance just makes me giddy with joy. That a tea high in caffeine could actually be healthy too is just icing on the cake. So this week, I decided to test out the caffeine effects of matcha on myself, by drinking a bowl at lunch for two days, then skipping it the third day, and comparing the results in terms of my alertness and productivity for all three afternoons. As an addict, it generally takes a *lot* of caffeine for me to actually feel a difference…several Mountain Dews in succession would probably give me the shakes, but otherwise, I don’t notice it in my system, just the lack of it (which induces serious headaches and brain fog).

The results surprised even me, to be honest. Monday and Tuesday after my bowl of matcha, I came back to work alert and ready to be productive. It wasn’t a jittery sort of high, but rather just a steady “awake-ness”, and while it didn’t keep me from zoning out or anything, it did keep my brain ready to go whenever I had need of it. In other words, the effect wasn’t really noticeable, but rather it kept me in the same even state of alertness that I’d started with that morning.

Wednesday I skipped the matcha. Which in hindsight might have been good for the experiment, but not so much for my state of being. When I got back from lunch, I found myself rather sleepy and lethargic, and having trouble focusing on simple tasks (as is quite normal for me). The black tea in my cup wasn’t quite cutting it (though it did help, as usual), and I decided I needed a super-shot of something to get me moving again. So I bought myself a coke, and downed it.

And almost fell asleep at my desk trying to make it through the rest of the afternoon. This is partially why I didn’t get this post written and posted yesterday.

Needless to say, it was quite a harsh difference, and today I plan to have another bowl of matcha with my lunch, and see if that doesn’t keep me going through this afternoon (I was up pretty late last night, so we’ll see). But at this point, it seems as though that daily bowl of matcha might be a good idea to boost me through the later half of the day – and it certainly isn’t going to hurt.

I drink a lot of tea…two 12oz. cups in the morning (black), two 12oz cups in the afternoon (black and either green, white, or a rooibos tisane), and an 8oz cup of green, white or rooibos tisane after my workout most nights. Is there room for a daily bowl of matcha in my tea schedule?

That would be a resounding YES. Tea is my water. If you’re a caffeine addict, or just need some extra energy, I’d urge you to get your hands on some of this. As for myself, I’m going to slowly start trying matcha from several vendors, to see if there’s much difference in taste, texture, etc.


  1. Wow, I had no idea matcha had so much caffeine. I've got to admit, that sounds pretty good. Outside of a few cups of tea a day, I'm not consuming much these days...and I've been feeling droopy. I think I'll check matcha out. The lunchtime 'ritual' sounds right up my alley!

  2. It kind of depends on where you get your information - I should have clarified that. It can go anywhere from low caffeine to matching a "lightly brewed cup of coffee" to "equal to two cups of coffee". In Pursuit of Tea merely says it's "higher" in caffeine.

    All sources seem to agree though that the caffeine in Matcha works with the "theine" substance found in tea to produce a calm and focused "alertness" that was known to monks ages ago, and used for staying focused and alert while meditating. Which would explain why it's a pick-me-up, regardless of exactly how much caffeine is in there. It really does help though - I was much more alert and focused all afternoon today than I was yesterday without the Matcha.

    Now I'm contemplating trying a "matcha latte"...not for health reasons, obviously, but more for something yummy to try. ;-)

  3. Yes matcha is great. As far as caffine, a way to think about it is that about 1/4 a teaspoon of matcha is equal to one cup of green tea. When making matcha you said your first batch was bitter, it probably was the water. You want to brew green tea at about 180 degrees so yeah that would be about just steaming. Glad you like your matcha I find it great to. When I was a coffee addict I used to get those highs and lows so much but with tea its so much more steady. But tea is a dieretic so make sure you still drink some water.

  4. Some caffeine is good for you. But don't you think you're going a bit overboard?

    Thing thing about caffeine is: if you consume less of it, it's just as effective but less stressful on your system.

    If you cut back to one serving a day for a few days, you'll be very sleepy. But then you can stick to two or three servings a day.

    My thoughts on the matter--for what it's worth.


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