In recent years, I've reacted badly to coffee. The caffeine jolt that I enjoyed most of my adult life began to make me feel jittery and just, weird. So, I settled into a pale substitute and had my daily cup of herbal and caffeine-free tea.
Although I missed the caffeine, I didn't miss the way it made my stomach feel.
I'd tried green teas in the past, but I really didn't think much of them one way or the other. Certainly, the taste was no great shakes; however, I'd heard great reports about matcha green tea. I began to research the topic in earnest. What I discovered sounded like a wonder elixir — antioxidant properties, gastro-intestinal benefits, control of type-2 diabetes, and increased mental focus and acquity.
When I read that matcha stimulates presence of mind, mental alertness, and a calm, meditative state simultaneously, this certainly checked all the boxes for me. I thought, "What's not to like?"
That Matcha Moment begins with its preparation. You have to pay attention during this process — more on that later. However, if I were to sum up the entire matcha experience, I would do so in one word: focus.
Once you begin to heat your teakettle, the next step is to scoop out just the right amount of the magic matcha tea powder into a bowl. You'll need a small bamboo whisk and small measuring cup. Then you wait for the whistle of the kettle. However, as the old folks say, "A watched pot never boils", so that's usually when I leave the kitchen to turn on my computer.
While we wait on the water to boil, I'll answer the obvious question, "How did I become so matcha obsessed?"
A little background is in order.
Matcha is a ceremonial green tea introduced in Japan from China by a Zen monk about a thousand years ago. The tea ceremony, as performed by the monks, celebrates the profound beauty of simple things, the extraordinary in the ordinary, and is intended to bring all participants into the here and now. The tea and the ceremony create a focus of mind, body and spirit.
There's that idea again. Focus. Do I sense a recurring theme here?
But back to the Matcha Moment. Once the water boils, add just a couple of ounces to your matcha tea powder in the bowl. When you whisk it with the bamboo tool, it forms a frothy foam. I think of it as a kind of rue. When your "base" is good and frothy, you're ready to add the rest of your hot water to fill up your cup with savory goodness.
With my first cup, I noticed a richness to the brew, like coffee, and distinct from other green teas. However, what I really noticed was my mental focus. It seemed as if the day was brighter and my mind was clear … crystal … clear. I guess it's the caffeine coupled with the properties of the tea, but it was a different kind of sensation. Unfailingly, I feel a presence of mind, mental alertness, and a calm, meditative state simultaneously. For me, the effects are hard to deny.
I didn't get those coffee jitters. The secret may be that the tea powder is made from the entire tea leaf. Because you ingest the entire leaf, a special chemistry takes place that results in a time-released caffeine experience. This quality allowed the Buddhist monks to concentrate in a calm state, without drowsiness, for long periods. Whatever … it works for me.
Now for a brief cautionary tale as it relates to focus. I told a friend about matcha and she decided to give it a try. She bought a tin of premium, organic matcha powder along with a bamboo whisk, bowl and wooden spoon scoop. The preparation calls for one "scoop" added to two ounces of water. To this mixture, you add the rest of the hot water for your cup. She read it as one scoop PER two ounces. She had an eight ounce cup, so, of course, she added FOUR scoops of matcha powder.
She called me after preparing her first cup, exhilarated. She said she had never felt so energized and focused. It was amazing, she said. However, as she went on an on, something didn't sound quite right. Well, to make a long story a bit shorter, when I found out she'd added four scoops of powder instead of just one, I gently informed her that after that mega-dose of caffeine wore off and she finally gets to sleep around four in the morning, the next time she has some matcha green tea, try it with just one scoop of matcha green tea powder.
Focus involves paying attention to instructions, as well.
Here are the tools you need to create your Matcha Moments!
Bowl or Wide Cup
Small Measuring Cup
Small Scoop or Measuring Spoon
Add two ounces of water to your scoop of powder. Whisk to a frothy foam, then add the rest of your water to the cup.
Happy Matcha Moment everybody!