Is it just me or have you been wondering why everyone’s drinking matcha all of the sudden? With all it’s buzz you could call it the new kale or quinoa or bone broth. People are drinking it up – hot, cold, in lattes, ice cream, baked goods…. You name it, someone’s adding matcha to it. It’s so hot right now…. in all the ways green tea can be hot (get it?).
Sure, all the rage may be part fad, but there’s also good nutritional reason behind it. Matcha has incredible health benefits – think green tea on steroids with 137x the antioxidants, like EGCG – the polyphenol in green tea associated with weight loss, disease prevention and cancer protection among other health benefits. Matcha also has slightly more caffeine than your regular green tea bag, but with an added bonus that makes it even more powerful…and sorta magical. I’ll explain…
The Power of Matcha
Unlike most teas you’d steep using a tea bag, matcha is made with the whole green tea leaf which is stone ground into a fine powder and whisked (or blended) in water. Because you’re consuming the whole leaf in matcha, rather than throwing out the steeped leaves, you’re consuming more of green tea’s inherent benefits.
What makes matcha unique though is the green tea leaves spend their last few weeks growing in the shade, which causes them produce more chlorophyll – the chemical compound that gives matcha it’s bright vibrant color. Then only the best leaves are selected to be ground.
Matcha’s time in the shade also boosts it’s L-Theanine levels. L-Theanine is an amino acid that works to balance the effects of caffeine so when you drink it, it gives you a sense of calmness.
Matcha That, Coffee
The combination of caffeine and L-Theanine creates a calm, more focused, sustainable energy, that’s much gentler than the steep burst and crash that can come with coffee.
Matcha is a great alternative to coffee if coffee makes you feel jittery, shaky, anxious, gives you headaches or if you feel that crash later on in the day.
Everyone has a different level of tolerance for caffeine and it may take some experimentation to find the right level for you. Trying matcha is a great way to experiment with a lower caffeine level. And the added benefit of the calming energy from L-Theanine can be just the right combo to give you sustained energy all day long and prevent that PM crash.
Fat for Fuel
Speaking of sustained energy, let me tell you a little more about the matcha latte recipe I’ll share with you below. I call this a matcha latte but it shouldn’t be confused with your more traditional latte. There’s no milk (not even almond milk) here. This latte is more like breakfast with all that goes into it.
What gives this matcha latte it’s frothy latte-like feel is coconut butter or coconut oil. If you’re familiar with the Bulletproof coffee concept, this recipe is similar. The idea is to start your day getting your calories, or energy, from fat, which helps balance blood sugar, reduces cravings, and can give you more energy and help keep you focused.
If you have coconut oil in your cabinet I recommend starting with that if you want to give this recipe a try. And when buying coconut oil always look for unrefined and virgin (side note: there’s no such thing as extra virgin coconut oil. Some manufacturers will use the phrase but “extra virgin” isn’t a thing in the coconut world. They’re just using the term as marketing).
The Illusion of Sweetness
On the topic of fat for fuel, an important part of what makes the concept work is consuming fat in the absence of sugar. That’s why you’ll notice in this matcha latte recipe I’ve added a date for sweetness but made it optional.
I don’t sweeten this drink when I make it for myself, but I’d say if I was making it for someone new to matcha I’d probably include the date. Matcha can be an acquired taste. When I first started drinking it I sweetened mine. As I’ve developed a taste for it, I find I no longer need the added sweetness now.
There is a trick though to make your taste buds think you’re getting a sweet sensation. The combination of cinnamon and vanilla signals sweet to your brain because these two flavors are usually paired with sweetness. Give it a try and see if you notice your drink does taste sweeter with just cinnamon and vanilla. You can try this trick with your regular coffee too.
There’s one more thing I always add to my matcha latte….
Get a Boost with Collagen
Collagen is another one you’ve probably started hearing more about lately. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies. It’s what gives our skin it’s elasticity, holds our tendons, muscles and joints together and allows everything to move.
As we age, our own bodies’ collagen production goes down and that’s when signs of aging start popping up, like wrinkles and creaky joints. But we can boost collagen production with collagen-rich foods like bone broth, gelatin and collagen peptides, as well as foods that support collagen production, like wild salmon, eggs, dark leafy greens, garlic and onions.
Collagen peptides are what I use daily and in this matcha latte recipe. Also known as collagen hydrolysate, they’re the most bioactive, absorbable form of collagen. Collagen, gelatin, and peptides all come from the same place – the skin, cartilage and tissues of animals. I know it’s gross, but so is saggy skin… so I try to just focus on the benefits.
I use collagen peptides just like a protein powder I’d add to a smoothie. And it dissolves in hot or cold water so most days I just stir it right into plain tea or coffee. This is the one I use by Perfect Supplements.
Since I started taking collagen as a daily supplement I’ve noticed my joints are not as stiff, my nails grow faster and my skin seems to look smoother and more youthful. And I get reports from people that they notice more energy, reduced appetite, and the same skin, hair and nail improvements I described. All this just from adding nutrition that’s simply been missing in most of our diets.
This hole in our nutrition is one of those #firstworldproblems that’s come with increased access and affordability of animal products. Back in the day animal products were harder to come by so people made sure they got their money’s worth and not only ate the meat, but also used the carcass and bones to make broth – think grandma’s homemade chicken soup.
Broth is what makes chicken soup so good for you, especially when you’re sick. It’s full of those same minerals and amino acids that are the building blocks for cell regeneration and renewal. And true bone broth that’s been simmered over a long period of time contains a bioavailable form of collagen, just like in collagen peptides.
Of course taking peptides is a much easier way to get the nutrition, but bone broth is CHEAP. I plan to do a post about how to make bone broth so I’ll go into more detail on all of this when I share that recipe. Stay tuned…
For now, back to the matcha…
A Word of Caution
Matcha’s benefits certainly outweigh it’s risks but there is one to bear in mind – lead. Like all green teas, matcha may contain trace amounts of lead and fluoride. The difference is that with matcha you’re consuming the whole leaf so there’s a higher concentration.
The exposure is still low and the risk doesn’t seem to be a reason to skip the drink, but it’s something to bear in mind especially when purchasing the tea. Look for organic matcha tea from Japan. This is the one I use. Teas from China can have higher levels of heavy metal contamination. If you are pregnant you may want to be even more cautious.
Matcha Latte Recipe
Note: Not all ingredients are required for this recipe. I love a nutritional boost, but ‘m also all about keeping it simple and using recipes with as few ingredients as possible. So if you don’t happen to have all these items on hand and you don’t feel like purchasing everything at once, the key ingredients here are the matcha, coconut butter or oil, cinnamon and vanilla. The collagen peptides and hemp seeds add nutrition but the drink can stand without them.
1 tsp organic matcha tea
1-2 tbsp hemp seeds
1/4 tsp organic ground cinnamon (or pumpkin spice blend)
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp collagen peptides
1/2 – 1 tbsp coconut butter or virgin coconut oil*
1/2 – 1 date (optional – omit for no sugar version)
2 cups hot water
Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth and frothy.
*I recommend starting with 1/2 a tbsp coconut oil at first and gradually going up to 1 tbsp as your body gets used to it. Taking too much too fast can cause an upset stomach.
For a treat, add 1 tbsp raw cacao powder.
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The content in this post is for educational and informational purposes only and is not medical advice.