For a healthy addition to your diet that packs a punch, think green. And no, we’re not talking about your good old green tea, but its powdered cousin, matcha.
Like green tea, matcha gives you a caffeine boost while also being high in antioxidants. But because it is the whole leaf ground into a powder, versus tea leaves that are then seeped or strained, you get the added benefits of ingesting the whole plant.
“Matcha provides all the awesome perks of green tea — metabolism boost, strong anti-cancer, powerful antioxidant — intensified,” said Lauren Slayton, founder of the Manhattan-based nutrition practice Foodtrainers, who pointed to a 2003 University of Colorado at Colorado Springs study that found that the concentration of EGCG, a potent antioxidant, is 137-times greater in matcha than a standard green tea.
If you’re looking to incorporate more matcha into your life, the powder can be used for tea (just whisk it in near-boiling water until you have a foam), or easily blended in smoothies. You can also add the versatile ingredient to water when cooking quinoa or brown rice, or even baked goods like banana bread, recommended Slayton.
“Matcha has a mellower, less bitter flavor than green tea,” said Slayton, who likes the DoMatcha brand. “Plus, it’s a really pretty color.”
The powdered green tea is also popping up all over town, from drinks like lattes and cocktails to even desserts. Pastry Chef Becca Punch recently introduced a green tea and lemon custard with matcha crumble on the dessert menu at the Musket Room.
“By adding in the matcha, I’m able to give it a complex, earthy base without being overpowering,” said Punch.
Though a matcha macaron may sound tempting, Slayton warns against enjoying too many sweets when you’re really looking for a healthy fix.
“A pinch of a healthy ingredient doesn’t make a pie any less pie-like — unless of course the other ingredients are improved too,” said Slayton. “Beware of the health halo when something has matcha in its name.”
With that caveat in mind, here are creative matcha concoctions available in New York City: