Following on my other posts on the gloriousness of matcha here is a new tea adventure with Fragrant Yame Blend from Naoki Matcha. I tried preparations based on the suggestions on the Naoki website and discovered some new benefits of this powerhouse tea. Let's matcha!
Matcha Naoki Style
Naoki works with smaller tea estates in Japan to source their matcha. One of the things I like about Naoki’s approach is their support of customers finding the matcha making method that works for them. They have many resources on their site to assist their customers' experience. That’s part of what Tea Deviant has always been about. Deviate. Find your own path, your own flavor, your own style.
Like Tea Deviant, Naoki provides information on traditional preparation, but also shares alternatives. That way those new to matcha can ease into the intensity of this amazing tea. The Naoki style of matcha tea is greater water to tea ratio and made simply by putting both in a vessel with a lid and shaking it.
I do this often with matcha when I am looking to take in matcha more slowly. If you have ever had issues with green tea or matcha irritating your stomach a more diluted preparation like this will give you a better experience. Also make sure if you are preparing it hot that you use water at 175 degrees max. Higher temps bring out a nasty bitterness in green tea that feels like it’s exfoliating your insides. Keep the temp low and green tea is a friendly, delicious, healthy experience you will want to repeat.
Traditional Matcha Preparations
Usucha - thin (though this is mighty thick to the uninitiated western palate)
Usucha preparation uses about 2.5 oz water to 1 tsp matcha blended with a matcha whisk called chasen. I have been drinking matcha for a while and this concentrated prep is enjoyable to me. However, even I have to watch when I have it so that my stomach is not empty and I don’t have too much caffeine. Matcha packs a wonderful energetic, focused punch, but can take me over the edge if taken too soon after other tea.
Naoki suggests their Fragrant Yame Ceremonial Blend for usucha. Though they describe this blend as sweet and floral, I tasted a delicious asparagus note prior to the floral kicking in. It was delightfully smooth with barely any bitter notes. As you can see the color of this matcha is a very deep, brilliant green which is indicative of quality in matcha. I made the Naoki Yame alongside a cheaper more every day matcha and you can visibly see in the unaltered image below the color difference.
Koicha - thick
This preparation is for Japanese tea ceremonies mainly and has even less water to tea. It is closer to mud or paste consistency and is also made using a bamboo whisk. Not all matcha is good for koicha. The highest quality matcha from leaves that have been shaded for a sweeter, bitter free taste is used.
Per Naoki’s website their Kirishima Harvest Ceremonial Matcha is good for koicha preparation.
You can discover more about usucha and koicha and other preparations on the Naoki website.
Matcha and Caffeine
It is frustrating to do a search about how much caffeine is in a teaspoon of matcha on average and find so many different amounts. That’s why it is good to cross reference and vet your sources.
Naoki’s estimate is on par with other scientific and tea industry sites I’ve read: around 70mg per teaspoon. It is important to be clear we are talking teaspoon of matcha rather than cup of matcha. The amount of caffeine per cup is dependent on how much tea is used in the preparation. As tea is so customizable this can vary widely. On top of that, the caffeine level of different teas, even in the same category, is affected by terroir, climate, elevation and harvest. Yeah, tea is complicated like that.
There are also all sorts of different guidelines on the maximum amount of caffeine an adult should have in a day. I’m not a doctor, so I will first say if you have any concerns talk to yours. Still, caffeine experience varies person to person based on everything from body weight to tolerance. In my experience there is no hard line that fits everyone.
Matcha and Stomach Issues
Matcha is powerful. Like Naoki suggests, making matcha as a tea with more water or as a latte is a good place to start if you are new to this tea. In addition to a milder prep be careful about when you have matcha. Drinking matcha on an empty stomach may cause stomach cramps or even diarrhea. Not a pleasant thought, but knowing in advance can be the difference between a great experience and an awkward or miserable one having you running for the bathroom mid sentence.
Even with my caffeine tolerance I have caused myself some rough rides by consuming intense tea without enough in my stomach. I’m just sensitive that way. If you know you have a sensitive stomach, go slowly using less matcha or one of the diluted preparations we talked about above.
Here’s more from nutritionist Nicole Castaneda: https://gutadvisor.com/matcha-and-diarrhea/
Quality is Key
I get that not everyone has access to the highest quality teas out there, and if you get together with your Nan to drink a grocery store brand tea on Sundays I think that’s great. The experiences around tea are just as valuable as the tea in my opinion. Two categories of tea where I believe quality is supremely important though are matcha and puerh. With matcha you are ingesting the whole leaf not just steeping it. I feel that warrants the use of a better quality tea. It’s my understanding that matcha sourced from Japan is best as their standards are so high.
Matcha Eases Anxiety
I’ve written about high points of adding matcha to your life in previous posts, but there has been some new research. Kumamoto University did a study in 2019 with mice that revealed “Matcha and Matcha extracts reduce anxiety by activating dopamine D1 and serotonin 5-HT1A receptors.” You can check out more on that study at Science Daily.
Thanks to Naoki Matcha for supplying the tea for this adventure. Have you taken a deep dive into matcha yet? If not, give it a try and discover a new way to experience the magic of tea.
The first thing I ever did on matcha was a video covering the LA International Tea Festival and you can check that out below.
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