Green tea with Matcha
Finely ground matcha powder from Uji, Japan
There aren’t many natural drinks out there that can pack a punch quite like matcha tea does. Arguably one of the best superfoods out there, matcha is making its way through the health food scene and turning heads. Most noticeably the antioxidant-filled blend is finding new life in the cold-brew form, being the perfect post-sweat refreshment.
Sawyer Trice of EcceKo (pronounced esi-ko) is a bit of an expert when it comes to matcha. He’s changing up the tea game and spreading the word of matcha’s incredible health benefits by supplying the tea across the country.
Anything as green as this must be good for you, right?
Although matcha is relatively new on the superfood scene, its origin dates back hundreds of years ago, says Sawyer. “Matcha originated in Japan with Eisai, the earliest practitioner of Zen philosophy, as a way to aid meditative practice and bring about presence of mind.” Sawyer became a convert to the green tea after having a profound experience with it in Japan. “Back in 2010, when I was in school in Washington, DC, I accompanied a friend to a ceremony in the tea house at the Japanese Embassy. Kneeling on thatched mats wearing traditional robes and tabi, I sat transfixed as our hosts methodically prepared matcha for guests. The details of the night have faded, but the impression left on me by the matcha remains. I’ve heralded that first sip as my most memorable and important foodie experience yet.”
But, what is matcha exactly?
Basically, matcha is green tea, but a very high grade version of it. “Matcha leaves are meticulously cultivated to ensure superior properties. About two weeks before harvest, the tea plants are shaded, sending chlorophyll to the top of the leaves, which gives matcha its subtle sweetness and its bright green colour, ” explains Sawyer. Chlorophyll helps replenish red blood cells, and is an instant energy booster for our bodies. This is a key attribute to why matcha is so darn good for you.
If you’re into antioxidants, this tea is for you. Experts at Tufts University tested the Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity of matcha, and found it to be unparalleled in comparison to other high-rated antioxidant loaded foods. Per gram, matcha is rated at 1300 units. To put that into perspective, pomegranates are 105 units per gram, and blueberries are 91 units. Oh yeah, it’s legit. But antioxidants aren’t the only thing matcha has going for it, as Sawyer describes. “On top of that, matcha boosts the metabolism, reduces stress with a compound called l-theanine and supports healthy immune function.” And if you’re on the hunt for a substitute to coffee, a matcha-latte may be right up your alley. “With 25mg of caffeine, matcha will boost your energy levels, but won’t give you caffeine jitters like coffee. It’s everything in one.” We like that sound of that.
Sawyer Trice with his creative partner Maya Pratt from EcceKo
Apart from all the proven health benefits, Sawyer’s love of matcha comes back to the finer details. “Like a perfectly pulled espresso, there are so many elements—from cultivation to harvest to production—that contribute to the quality of matcha; that’s why I love it. Whether it’s notes of young bamboo, bright citrus or earthy cacao, each harvest is different.” It’s kind of like wine or coffee, but better for you. “It’s endlessly fascinating and we’re on a constant quest for the most superior blend, ” says Sawyer.
But Sawyer isn’t the only one who’s hopped on the matcha band wagon. Barre Body founder and lululemon ambassador Emma Seibold is a total matcha enthusiast.lululemon ambassador Emma Seibold loves the health benefits of matcha
Emma says she drinks it not only for its killer nutritional value, but for its flavour as well. “I love matcha, as it’s a super-charged green tea that’s high in vitamin c, chlorophyl, antioxidants and fibre. The flavour is naturally sweet so it’s a nice way to satisfy my sweet tooth.” Although drinking the powder in hot water is the most traditional form, Emma likes to use matcha in her smoothies and even in her desserts. “I mostly drink it just like I would any other tea, but I also make a delicious green tea chia pudding. One of my favourite ways to drink matcha is to blend it in a smoothie of fresh coconut water and flesh.” Before you ask, yes, we have the chia pudding recipe, and it’s pretty freaking amazing.
Sawyer also likes to stray from the old school ‘just add hot water’ trick. ”We’re staunch supporters of the cold-brew method, which our blends are especially made for. Cold water brings out sweet citrus notes and makes for a lighter, fresher brew, one that can be enjoyed anywhere.” Cold-brew matcha is perfect for almost any time of day, and is an easy-to-prepare drink that you can make on the go, Sawyer explains. “Because of its calming yet energising qualities, a lot of people will simply shake a teaspoon into their water bottle before or after their workout. It lends focus, cleanses and hydrates all in one.” Sounds pretty good to us.
EMMA’S MATCHA GREEN TEA CHIA PUDDING
Ingredients: (serves 2 – 4)
2 cups almond milk
2 tbsp honey or rice malt syrup (fructose-free option)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp matcha powder
6 tbsp chia seeds
1 cup blueberries
1 cup raspberries
- Blend all ingredients except the chia seeds.
- Combine chia seeds and blended mixture and stir every few minutes until it thickens.
- Pop in the fridge for an hour or more to set.
- Serve with fresh berries.
Emma Seibold is the founder of Barre Body, and is a lululemon ambassador. For some major butt-burning, head to one of Emma’s studios. For everything in between, follow Barre Body on instagram.
SAWYER’S COLD BREW
Ingredients: (serves 1)
500ml of cold filtered water
1 tsp superior matcha
Using your favourite water bottle, add matcha to water. Cap and shake for 10 seconds until matcha dissolves. Drink pre or post workout.
Sawyer Trice founded EcceKo in Sydney in early 2014 because he wanted to show the active community that there was a better and healthier way to fuel their day. To get your hands on some matcha powder, head here, or you can follow their green tea goodness on instagram.
Bonnie is our email and blog specialist for Australia and New Zealand. Along with writing, she’s a keen traveller, food lover, and podcast listener. Whether it’s making homemade beef jerky, shoulder shruggin’ to some hip hop or practicing her handstands, you can find out what she’s up to by following her on instagram.