Have you heard of matcha powder?
No? I hadn’t either until Tea Pigs invited me to take part in their 14 day matcha challenge.
Matcha is basically a super-concentrated green tea powder. When you drink a cup of green tea you’re just drinking an infusion of the leaves. Matcha powder, on the other hand, is the whole tea leaf, ground to a very fine powder and much stronger. So when you dissolve it in a liquid, you’re drinking a very strong green tea packed with antioxidants and nutrients.
I have to confess, I’ve never been a big fan of green tea – I’m a black tea lover, and I struggle with the green taste. But, this challenge appealed to me. Mostly because matcha is supposedly a bit of a wonder product.
Why is it so wonderful? It’s supposed to give you energy, lots of it. And vitality. And with the energy and vitality, comes calmness. The opposite of coffee, then. Energy and poise. That’s the claim anyway.
How did I drink mine? Tea pigs send me a brilliant starter kit with some powder, a measuring spoon and a whisk, plus a ready-made matcha drink. Their suggestion is to mix half a teaspoon of the powder with a small amount of water and drink it as a small shot.
The powder dissolved very easily, but my goodness it was intense. A very strong, grassy taste. Doable, but not very pleasant. Unless you really like the taste of green tea.
Undeterred, I tried again the next day. This time though, I mixed a small amount in with a fruity smoothie. This worked quite well, but I found that the taste still came through very strongly, and there was a lot more to drink.
After reading a bit of advice online, I decided to try mixing the powder with milk and a little honey instead. The difference is incredible.
Obviously, you wouldn’t normally dream of having milk with green tea, but somehow with the matcha powder it really works. It seems to neutralise the strong flavour and tone everything down a bit.
In it’s simplest form, I just whizz a little cold milk and honey with a spoonful of the powder in a small glass and down it. It’s quick, easy and pleasant.
My absolute favourite way to drink it is to mix it into a smoothie with yogurt, fruit and oats. I blend together a little sweetened vanilla yoghurt, a handful of oats, blueberries and a touch of water in my Nutribullet. It’s delicious.
And what about the benefits?
I like coffee, and it’s traditionally what I turn to for elevenses. For two weeks I tried matcha in the mid morning – sometimes instead of coffee, sometimes as well.
I love coffee while I’m drinking it – the smell, the comfort, the taste. But for me, it’s only really energising while I’m drinking it.
With the matcha, the energising effect came after drinking it. I can’t claim that it was dramatic, but I definitely noticed that my concentration was sharper. When writing, words flowed more easily and quickly and there was a definite feeling of calm focus. This also extended itself to more mundane things, like cooking and tidying.
Will I continue drinking it? Yes, I will, but perhaps not every day. It’s been a week since I finished my two-week challenge. Since then, some days I’ve fancied matcha, some days I haven’t.
I worry slightly that it’s probably not a great idea to drink coffee and matcha too close together – that’s a lot of caffeine. Some mornings, I just fancy coffee more, and end up forgetting about the matcha. But other days (especially when it’s warm and the sun’s shining) a fruity, oaty hit of matcha is just perfect.
I think it comes down to what sort of pick-me-up you fancy on any given day. A warm, comforting, bowl of coffee – sipped while you work. Or, a quick hit of matcha – with zen-like properties that last longer, but are less instantly gratifying.
Have you tried matcha? What do you think?
Tea pigs matcha power is available here.
Tea pigs kindly invited me to take part in their matcha challenge but all words, thoughts and photographs (unless otherwise stated) are my own.