In case you haven’t heard, kale is out, and matcha is in. Which is great news for your cocktail, because green tea works much better in a mixed drink than cabbage.
It’s no secret that America loves a good health-food craze, and it looks like matcha is the hip new healthy drink of choice. Not that we’re complaining; matcha mixes really well with all kinds of alcohol. Healthy drinking, you say? Sign me up.
You’ve probably heard of matcha. You might have even tried it once or twice. But, chances are good you don’t really know what makes it so magnificent. You just know it tastes a little bit like grass, and it’s supposed to be good for you; and that’s fine. That’s what we’re here for. We’ve got the break down on everything you need to know about the green powder that’s sweeping the nation. Even better, we’re going to tell you how to incorporate it into some really delicious (and delightfully green) drinks.
WTF is Matcha?
You haven’t heard of matcha? What’s the matcha with you?
Sorry, couldn’t resist. Seriously though, let’s break down this mysterious matcha.
What's it made from?
By the time it gets to us, Matcha is nothing but an emerald green powder, but matcha is actually made from the same plant as your typical green tea. The difference is in the growing and cultivation style. Basically, matcha is the high maintenance girlfriend of the green tea world. It’s demanding, needy, and expensive; but at least it doesn’t ask to read your texts.
Fortunately for you, most of the hard work gets done before the powder is available to purchase. Matcha can only be made from bushes that have been covered at least 20 days prior to harvest. Shading the plants causes them to increase their chlorophyll production (hence that lovely green color). It also causes the plant to increase levels of a naturally occurring amino acid called L-Theanine. L-Theanine is your new BFF. It’s the key component that makes matcha soothing and stimulating at the same time.
How do they make it?
Worker carefully select only the best buds from the shaded matcha bushes. They lay out the leaves to dry, then de-vein and de-stem each leaf. Using grindstones, workers grind the leaves into a bright green powder. The matcha makers have to be careful not to grind too fast though; if the stones heat the tea leaves it can compromise the flavor of the matcha.
Where does it come from?
The whole process of grinding up tea leaves and then dissolving the powder into water to make a drink was invented by the Chinese. However, the best matcha comes from Japan. Specifically, from popular growing regions in the Southern half of the country.
Why is everyone losing their minds over it?
Matcha has a ton of potential health benefits, which seems to be why people are so over the moon for it. It’s got caffeine, amino acids, and tons of antioxidants, so it’s likely to improve your mood and productivity. Beyond that, there’s research that supports that green tea and matcha help lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease, as well as help prevent liver disease. It’s got loads of antioxidants, and early studies show it’ll even help you lose some weight. Sounds like quite the drink!
What makes it better than regular green tea?
When you make green tea, you steep tea bags which contain leaves from the same type of plant as matcha. But, with matcha, you dissolve the entire powderized leaf in your drink.
Why do you want to drink a leaf?
Because that’s where all those amino acids and antioxidants live. Not only do you get an extra boost from consuming the whole leaf; matcha leaves have more amino acids, antioxidants, and that gorgeous green color to begin with. So, you’re getting a higher quality tea leaf, that was painstakingly processed by a real person. You dissolve the powder directly into your drink, so there’s no drippy tea bags or waste to worry about. You maximize the health benefits by consuming the whole leaf, and it makes one hell of a cocktail. But, more on that in a minute.
How do I use it?
Generally speaking, you dissolve a couple spoonfuls of matcha powder into some hot water or milk and whisk your way to matcha magic. If you want to get traditional with it, you can get a chawan (the traditional bowl/cup used to make and drink matcha), a chashaku (bamboo measuring spoon) and a chasen (bamboo whisk). Spoon your matcha into the chawan. Gently pour hot (approximately 175°F) water over the matcha powder. Use that bamboo whisk to whip it real good, in a zig-zag pattern until it’s frothy. Voila, like magic, it’s matcha.
Hot tea isn’t the only way to be a matcha man (or woman); you can also eat it. I don’t suggest sucking down a spoonful, but creative chefs, bakers, and food artisans all over have found delicious ways to incorporate matcha into a variety of sweet and savory dishes. A quick Google search will turn up tons of recipes for desserts and breakfast foods aplenty. Of course, we’ve found the best way to enjoy matcha is in a mixed drink.
How do I make it into a cocktail?
Finally, the moment you’ve been waiting for. We’re going to tell you how to make a healthy, emerald green, alcoholic drink using matcha.
This cocktail was crafted with love by a world-class bartender by the name of Kaitlyn Stewart. And when we say world-class, we mean that literally. Stewart was named World Class’ best bartender in the world for 2017, just one of 8 bartenders to ever earn the distinction.
The Matriarch was named after her inspiration, her late grandmother, and all the strong women in her family. The original recipe got her past the first round of the best bartender in the world contest, and set her up for success. Not only is this cocktail a celebration of female empowerment throughout the generations, rumor has it that it tastes like melted green tea ice cream. Sounds delicious!
Gin, you’ve matcha match, and it’s matcha. Wow, that was a mouthful just for a quali-tea pun. Alright, there’s not matcha more, I promise. For real though, this Matcha-Gin cocktail is the perfect brunch companion. I’m considering putting my Bloody Mary on the bench, and adding this Matcha-Gin Cocktail my starting line-up.
¼ cup mint leaves
¾ ounce agave or honey
¾ ounce lime juice
1½ cups water
2½ ounces gin
1 teaspoon matcha
In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint with the agave and lime juice. Add the remaining ingredients and shake until well chilled and the matcha is dissolved. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer, dividing between two ice-filled rocks glasses, then serve.
Original recipe from tastingtable.com
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