The Essential Tea for Taste, Health & Presence
“Meanwhile, let us have a sip of tea. The afternoon glow is brightening the bamboos, the fountains are bubbling with delight, the soughing of the pines is heard in our kettle. Let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”
― Kakuzō Okakura,
The Book of Tea
Matcha has a long ceremonial history and philosophy, amazing benefits for your health, and tastes great, no sugar added! I've been hooked on this triple threat and am happy to see speciality matcha cafes like Cha Cha Matcha and Chalait popping up all over NYC.
WHat is matcha?
- In Japanese, 'Ma' is powder, and 'Cha' is tea
- All tea is made from the plant, Camellia Sinesis, yet matcha is ground into a powdered form and grown in the shade for twenty days before picking.
- Traditionally, matcha is whisked with hot, slightly off-boiling temperature water, yet it can be mixed with various milks for lattes and shakes or baked into cookies and cakes.
A mindful ritual
In a traditional Chanoyu tea ceremony, every small detail is attended to and elevated to the level of art. While I am no tea master, I take my time in preparing the tea. My simple ritual is as follows:
- I use an electric kettle to boil the water and take it off slightly before finished
- Meanwhile I scoop a small amount of matcha into a strainer and sift the powder directly into a small matcha cup (a slightly wider tea cup with no handle)
- I slowly pour the water into the cup, making sure not to splash the sides
- Then use a bamboo whisk to create 'M' and 'N' shaped motions until there is a light froth at the top of my matcha
- I let it cool for a minute or two before I drink it
The taste is subtly sweet, grassy and sits well in my stomach. The caffeine gently nudges me awake.
a Recipe for presence
The whole process takes less than three minutes and gets me off my chair and focused on an entirely new task. No matter what I've been working on earlier, it's a deliberate Stop. Refresh. Start again.
A small break of mindful awareness, whether in the form of a couple of yoga stretches, a walk outside, or several deep breaths, all help to create force stops. Rather than slogging for hours on end, these rests create intervals. Periods of relative intensity and relaxation. Modes of On/Off. My experience tells me these intervals are helpful in managing my energy throughout the day and I'm not alone! These findings are backed by many productivity experts.
Mindful moments help in:
- Managing stress, attention and energy
- Turning on our parasympathetic nervous system, our 'rest and digest response'
- Creating intervals throughout the day that help us get more done in less time
- Help us tune in & get present
The last benefit is my favorite. Getting present & coming back to Now.
It's so easy to get distracted, procrastinate, be led by others, get off our center, and stop tuning in or listening to our gut. A cup of matcha won't solve all of these issues, but it can nudge you in the right direction when you've been derailed and need a way to reset. It's an act that you can do mindfully, slowly, and doesn't require your analytical brain.
You can make your matcha ritual a three minute meditation, a three minute window of peace.
Pouring a cup of matcha leads you to a state of presence and peace, that you can access at any time of the day.
a cup of wellness
Matcha is packed with anti-oxidants and a catechin called ECGC that is known to host numerous beneficial effects. It can:
- Reduce fatigue, improve memory and attention
- Increase fat loss ( EGCG suppresses an enzyme that breaks norepinephrine. Norepinephrine signals the body to use fat cells as energy.)
- Lower blood pressure
- Improve your insulin sensitivity
- Fight against infection
- Reduce inflammation
- Improve your skin
For a reasonable dosage of EGCG you would need to drink 2-3 cups of matcha per day. While I personally stick to one or two cups of matcha per day, I do love to use green tea products in my skin care as well and incorporate matcha into my food.
For more exciting ways to eat/drink your matcha, here are my top 3 favorite matcha recipes:
My Morning Matcha Latte
How i spent my sunday morning: Matcha pancakes
No effort at all. Bought a gluten-free pancake mix from Whole Foods and added a spoonful of matcha. Made it just as directed and it turned out amazing!
Made with high quality Zen Matcha Tea