Matcha made in heaven?

Intrigued? Yes. Curious? Yes. Matcha is the latest craze but how much do we really know about it?

This cult form of green tea hailing from Japan has taken the world by storm. Yoga luvvies are downing pre-class shots of the stuff, it's popping up in all sorts of cuisine including brownies and soups, celebs can't get enough and due to its weight-loss mythology the catwalk models are raving about it in the press. It's trendy. We get it. Everything is, well and truly turning green.

But what are its benefits? It's been around a long time. A long, long time. 900 years ago in fact. It was hailed in ancient Japan as being strong and virtuous for mental health and often used as a remedy for the mind, body and soul due to its richness in anti-oxidants. It's only fitting, that now it has been revived as a trendy wellbeing purchase.

You can pick up matcha very easily online, in health food stores and in some high-end supermarkets these days. You'll usually find it in powdered form. Some supermarkets pop it in with the teas, others in the health and beauty aisle and we've even spotted it next to its trendy counterpart, the coconut oil. But it's good to know that there are different grades including a purer form and one more akin to the kitchen for basic cooking, all at an accessible price (from £2 for tea bags to £25 for pure form powder to be exact.)

Marvellous matcha fits the Umami Japanese method of taste and has a strong, rich flavour. Want to know more about the 'fifth taste'? Sure thing - see our Umami post. Superior matcha leaves (the expensive health store kind) are chosen for their colour, texture, Umami taste and ...I like this bit... frothability. 'If it ain't frothy, it ain't matcha good!' Now that's out of my system, the leaf picking process is taken very seriously by the ancient farmers of Uji, the holy grail of matcha production. But it's not a fast process, one stone mill reports it can only produce 30-40 grams of matcha per hour which may explain it's price tag.

Fancy giving it a go? Here's our Green Machine smoothie using matcha:

Ingredients
Smoothie base:

-1 cup almond milk
-3 peeled and cored green apples
-1 1/2 bananas
-small handful of ice cubes

Tea base:
-2 tea spoons ground matcha
-hot water

Directions
-First prepare the matcha tea by boiling water and adding the powder into a small bowl
-Gently whisk the bowl mixture (preferably with a bambo spoon) in a back and forth motion. This is the traditional way of 'silkening' the matcha.
-Leave the matcha mixture to cool
-Grab your blender or smoothie maker and add all the smoothie ingredients including the ice. Whizz and whirl until smooth.
-Add both cooled mixtures together and blend once more.
-Garnish with a slice of lemon or green apple if you're feeling fancy.
-Check for froth. Froth is good. Matcha froth is important!
Enjoy and soak up the health benefits like you were a celeb!