It’s a success story rising from the ashes, or leaves in this case.
In a 2005 survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research, green tea was dubiously tabbed as the least popular nonalcoholic beverage in the United States. Flip the calendar ahead six years and the nation is becoming increasingly conscious regarding the health components of food and beverages and one of the leading research firms, Technomic, finds U.S. consumers feel green tea is one of the most appealing flavors for hot or iced tea.
The green tea revolution has been gaining steam ever since and the latest vehicle to propel the success of the healthy beverage is matcha tea.
What exactly is matcha tea? It’s a powder made from young green tea leaves and while its popularity has been soaring in recent years, it’s hardly a new beverage. It’s believed that matcha tea goes back to the 12th century and has been used by Buddhist monks and Samurai warriors to prepare for meditation and improve mental clarity thanks to the brain-boosting, stress-reducing combo of amino acid and L-Theanine.
The method for creating matcha tea is a bit different from traditional tea. During the late stages of the growth period, traditional green tea leaves are placed in shade for up to four weeks before harvesting. “When it’s shaded for that long, you up the chlorophyll, and you up the antioxidant level, and it just completely changes the profile of the plant,” said Dr. Mariza Snyder, author of ‘The Matcha Miracle.’ “After they harvest, they steam, dry then grind it with a stone grinder, so you’re consuming the entirety of the leaf.”
Snyder went on to state that matcha tea possesses up to ten times more antioxidants than traditionally prepared green tea and the Chlorophyll, which she likened to blood of the plant, is extremely detoxifying. She also noted the tea itself has a taste that is similar to green tea yet it may take up to 10 cups of regular green tea to match the antioxidant power of one matcha serving.
Another aspect of matcha that is different from traditional green tea is how it’s prepared prior to consumption. The most traditional way to make matcha is to whisk the powder in water that is hot, but not boiling, thus preserving the antioxidants in the tea.
“You put in three ounces of water… then you just whisk in this “M” and “W” motion, like a zig-zag back and forth,” said Jessica Lloyd, co-founder and COO of Panatea, a matcha company based in the U.S. “It becomes this frothy, almost espresso shot amount of liquid.”
The popularity of matcha has spider webbed throughout the country as cafes in New York, San Francisco, Boston, and points in between stock their menus with the vibrant green drink. In fact a café in Brooklyn is the first to dedicate its entire list of offerings to matcha.
Matcha’s popularity will likely continue to soar as consumers look for healthy beverage options and the beverage world will continue to make more room in the landscape for matcha tea based drinks. BUNN is at the forefront of matcha innovation. In fact, we will be serving chilled matcha drinks from our Ultra equipment during the NACS show next month in Las Vegas. Stop by booth 4867 to sample a new twist on a centuries old drink.
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