My Moment with Matcha

By Kelly Krause
panatea matcha

Once I learned the importance of brightening up my meals with as many color-rich vegetables as possible, my attention zoned in on all greens. I wish I could credit this shift to their great taste, endless recipe potential and nutritional bragging rights, but the truth is — at age 5, when I found out my name was also a color, it became my immediate powerful statement hue of choice.

Apparently, green is also the color of balance, self-respect and well being. The pillars of living kindly — so it all comes full circle now.

panatea matcha

photo source: panatea matcha

During my stay in Brooklyn last Fall, en route to grab iced coffee no less, I stumbled upon a newly-open cafe called MatchaBar. It was hard not to grab your attention — a stark white brick exterior with a — you guessed it — bold Kelly green sign and a great font to boot. Well-dressed, seemingly in-the-know cool kids walked out with the brightest green drinks I’d ever seen. What was this place? What are they drinking?  A square box away from resembling an adult Ecto-Cooler, my curisoity struck. I turned around, walked in and put my ice coffee expedition on hold.

Turns out, I was standing in NY’s first speciality matcha cafe.

A finely ground green tea powder, matcha has been used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies for hundreds of years. Loaded with antioxidants, fiber and chlorophyll, matcha is definitely having a moment and gaining mainstream appeal as a healthy caffeine go-to.

matcha powder

photo source: cereal magazine

I’d been on the hunt for an alternative to coffee after so many episodes of mid-day jitters and headaches, but kept coming up short. That morning at MatchaBar, I tried the iced matcha and found it to be sweet, earthy, but a smoother and silkier finish than traditional green tea. This particular matcha was sourced directly from an independent family farm in Nishio, Japan. But perhaps the best part — 3 hours later, I felt alert with zero jitters. It was almost too good to be true.
With the help of MatchaBar‘s website, here’s what I learned about this power powder:

  • No jitters: Matcha contains L-Theanine, a rare amino acid and natural calming agent that combines with caffeine to give you a boost without the typical coffee crash.
  • More antioxidants than most superfoods: Matcha is one of the most concentrated sources of antioxidants on the planet, helping to control blood sugar and improve metabolism. More than gojiberries, dark chocolate and walnuts
  • Boosts metabolism and long-term health: Thanks to a powerful antioxidant called EGCG, when combined with caffeine, becomes an effective tool to improve metabolism. 
  • Full of fiber, no sugar and almost calorie-free. Just note: adding sugars, sweetened milks and processed ingredients to this superfood negates most of the nutritional benefits.

During my trip to NYC last week, I was happy to see matcha on so many menus. For a moment, I was able to rekindle my one-time love affair and found my options to be vast — from lattes, pastries (even white chocolate matcha bark) and matcha food-pairing classes, I have a hopeful feeling it’ll make its way to Austin and beyond soon.

While I’m not breaking up with coffee just yet, I’m inching towards the I need space stage. The next logical step in the relationship is buying this at home matcha starter kit and then of course, introducing it to my family. I like to take things pretty slow.