Category Archives: Green Tea

Where Do You Buy Your Matcha Green Tea

If you’re like most people, you’ve never bought matcha before. You may not even know what it is, although that seems unlikely these days. By now, most people have heard about matcha. Not a day goes by that some magazine, blog or other website does not publish a matcha-related article. In fact, that’s probably why you’re here: you’ve either seen an article in your local newspaper, seen a report about matcha on the news or read about it on your favorite tea blog.

good tea stores sell matcha made from these quality tea leaves
Good quality tea leaves at a tea plantation

But do you really know what it is? I won’t go into too much detail about it here, since that’s not the topic of this article and there are plenty (and I do mean PLENTY) articles out there that will provide you the basics. I will give you a little info, though.

Basically, matcha is a green tea powder. High-quality tea leaves are dried, then deveined and destemmed. The remaining parts are then stone ground into a fine powder. Only the highest quality leaves are used to make real matcha powder from Japan and they are ground to an incredibly fine powder that has a bright green appearance. If it is not bright green, the quality is lower and the powder likely came from China (or is just a cheap Japanese variety).

Now to the actual question: where should you get your tea powder? Well, that depends on what you want. If you want a high-quality powder for making koicha (or even usucha), you’ll definitely want one that was sourced in Japan.  Preferably, it should come from the Uji region of Japan. You can find good powders like this on a number of online tea shops and even general online stores like Amazon.

That said, Amazon mostly sells cheaper powders, many of which come from China. These will be much lower quality and I would not recommend them if you plan on drinking your tea. If you are only going to cook with the matcha, you can get away with cheaper varieties, but I would still pay more and get a higher quality. The quality green tea powders are not THAT much more expensive, but the difference in flavor is considerable. You will not regret paying more.

If you don’t like online shopping, you may be able to find matcha in your city. If you live in a city, that is. Most major cities in the west have decent tea shops that will sell the powder. It is so popular these days, that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a tea shop that doesn’t carry it. As is always the case, once celebrities start doing something, every idiot will want to start doing it too. The potential profit is too good to pass up.

While many of these people might be a little annoying with their “healthy” sugar-laden drinks that only retain a very slight matcha flavor, their trend-hopping is actually good for us in this instance. It means that matcha powder has become much more widely available. Now, that does not mean that the matcha in your neighborhood shop is necessarily good; you’ll have to give it a try. If it sucks, it recommend giving online vendors a try, despite any misgivings you might have.

If you live in a more rural area, the online vendors will be your only option anyway (these days, tea shops are popping up everywhere, even Danbury, and many sell matcha). Trust me, many of them are quite good. Just make sure that have reviews on their site and that the site looks like someone is busy updating it regularly. If it looks like it was last updated in the early 90s, I’d stay away.

So there you have it. If you have decent tea stores in your area, try their matcha  and you may end up with a great and convenient source. If not, give online shops a try. As for the matcha bars and cafes that are springing up in the biggest cities. Well, some of them are quite good, but many simply serve sugar water with a slight matcha flavor. This is always the case for the big chains like Starbucks. Stay away from that crap. It is not matcha.

Irish Fighters Drink Matcha And Support Hibernians

If you follow sports at all, you’ll likely be aware of the meteoric rise of Irish fighters. Seemingly out of nowhere, they have shot onto the scene and into the spotlight. Everyone wants to know, what makes them so good? Where do they get their strength from? Where do they get their stamina from? Everybody wants to know, because they want to be like them. They think if they learn their secrets, they can succeed too. Not necessarily as fighters, but in whatever they choose to take on in their own lives.

Well, I recently got a chance to sit down with one of the more famous Irish fighters, along with his entire security detail. He takes personal security very seriously. I won’t name any names, because he asked me not to. I do say  that we’ve been friends for a while, having grown up together in Danbury Connecticut. We met each other at early meetings of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians and we’ve been friends ever since we met there.

ancient hibernians
Memebrs of the Ancient Order of the Hibernians marching

In fact, my friend claims that the support he gets from the Danbury Hibernians is one of the big reasons for his success. He also claims that the support he gives back to them helps a lot too. Apparently, it helps keep him grounded and he is also someone who believes in karma. He feels giving back to the Hibernians is good karma and that karma is repaid by success in his career.

His other secret? Well, if you’re at all familiar with this site, you can probably guess it: it’s matcha green tea powder. That’s right, this guy drinks a cup of matcha every morning. But he doesn’t stop there. He uses green tea powder in his food as well. While he is training, he always has a smoothie made with the stuff. When he treats himself to a desert, he makes sure it’s one that has been cooked with green tea.

Of course, he doesn’t make any of this himself. He didn’t want me to add this part, but he is a horrible cook. He would manage to even ruin the smoothie. And why should he cook for himself? He’s got money now, he can afford to hire someone to do all this for him. And he does. He hired an ancient Japanese guy, a guy who also grew up in Danbury, Connecticut, and he has this guy come over for a few hours everyday to fix him his smoothie and prepare his meals.

The guy makes the meals, then puts them in Tupperware in the fridge. Whenever my friend feels hungry, he heats some of this food up. The food is all healthy and much of it contains the famous Japanese green tea, as mentioned.

Personally, I don’t know if this is truly the reason for his success or not. I’ve seen the way the this guy trains. He is a monster. He never gives up, he pushes himself far beyond his limits and far beyond the limits of anyone else. Far, far, far beyond the limits of most of the rest of us. This is why he is successful. Maybe the matcha helps. Maybe the support of the Danbury Hibernians helps.

At the very least, I do believe that he believes all of this stuff helps him and I know that that is important. It helps his morale and perhaps that is what allows him to push himself so much further than a normal person. Looking at it this way, I guess he is right. This stuff does help him succeed. I guess that means you need to join the ancient Hibernians and you need to start drinking, or eating, matcha green tea, if you want to match his success. Or even just come close to matching it.

So what are you waiting for? Move to Danbury and get online and buy yourself some of the finest Japanese tea powder money can buy. Buy the best stuff straight from the Uji region of Japan near Kyoto. Then get out there and bust your ass. Success will be yours!

My First Good Cup of Matcha Tea in Kyoto, Japan

Since I’m starting a blog about the Japanese green tea powder called matcha, it only makes sense to write a quick post detailing my first experience with this wonderful tea. I was living in Japan at the time and had seen the word matcha written on packages of tea in my local grocery store, but I had no idea what that word actually meant and how that type of tea was different from any other.

green tea powder from Kyoto JapanAs I grew more accustomed to living in Japan, I started to learn more about the culture and the daily life of the Japanese people. Eventually, I learned that matcha is a powdered form of green tea and that it is the variety used in the Japanese tea ceremony. At that point I had never seen the tea ceremony, but I knew enough about it to know that the brewing process was quite involved and that the ceremonial procedures were extensive and complicated and that it takes practitioners years to master them.

One day, I decided to try some of this tea for myself and bought my own package of matcha green tea powder. I bought the cheapest one available at the grocery store and when I opened it up, it had a dull green color. I did not know this at the time, but that is not the color you want to see. The highest quality varieties have a bright green color and look fresh instead of dull. Basically, I bought a low-quality tea, but I should’ve known that just from the price alone.

As if that wasn’t enough, I simply dumped the powder into some hot water and stirred it with a spoon. I had no idea you’re supposed to whisk it in a bowl and I also had no idea there were special implements for the process. I had never heard of a chashaku, the bamboo spoon used to scoop the powder into the bowl, a chawan, the bowl itself, or a chasen, the whisk. I certainly had no idea you were supposed to put the powder through a strainer and I didn’t even know the correct water temperature. You guessed it! I use boiling water. Needless to say, my brew tasted horrible.

I’ve heard many people say they don’t like the taste of matcha and I’m guessing it’s for the same reason I didn’t originally like it much—they simply brewed it incorrectly. In my case, it wasn’t until over a year later when I began traveling around Japan and found myself in Kyoto, that I finally had a couple of matcha prepared the way it was meant to be prepared. Technically, I was in Uji, a small town near Kyoto. I was staying in Kyoto and had spent a few days sightseeing there already, when I decided to take a day trip to the nearby village of Uji.

It is a traditional Japanese town and is famous for its matcha. Visitors can observe the traditional tea ceremony and try a cup of traditional tea. I did both and both were an incredible experience. I finally learned how amazing this type of green tea can taste when it is prepared in the traditional and the correct way and I also felt like I was watching a piece of history unfold when I observed the tea ceremony.

If you ever find yourself in Japan I suggest you find an opportunity to view a tea ceremony for yourself and to try a cup of this wonderful tea. Ideally you will do it in a town famous for its tea, like Uji. Should you find yourself in Kyoto, getting to Uji is easy. So don’t miss the opportunity to experience the deliciousness that is matcha green tea.

For more on Kyoto, try the Japan Guide website.

For more on the Japanese tea ceremony.

Drinking Green Tea Among the Hibernians in Danbury

If you live in New York City, you’re probably looking for some day trips to get out into the countryside. I have done this myself and I remember one time I ended up in the town of Danbury, Connecticut. It is not big and seemed to be full of Irish people, judging by the large parade they were holding that day and all the flyers proclaiming the marchers were part of the ancient order of the Hibernians.

Danbury, Connecticut town centerI don’t really know what was going on exactly. I had simply gotten up that morning, made myself a large thermos full of green tea and got in my car to drive in one direction. I just kept driving and went through a bunch of towns until I stumbled onto this one, where the parade was being held. I got out of my car and walked around a bit, watching the Irish parade and talking to some people.

I met a beautiful red haired Irish girl who came up and talked to me because she was curious about my tea. See, the thermos I use to brew my loose leaf green tea is made from clear plastic, so you can see the leaves floating in the water. This is not unusual in a country like China or Japan, but here in the US, it always gets looks and comments. Most of the time that can be a bit annoying, but when the commenter looks like this girl, I certainly have no problem with it.

I happily explained to her how I like to brew my tea, usually sencha or Dragon Well which you can buy from most online vendors, in that cup, because it means I can sip on it all day long. Once it’s empty, I simply put a few more dried leaves on top of the wet ones already in the cup and add more hot water and my second cup is ready.

Note: I recently visited Danbury again and they actually have a real tea shop now! And they have other big city things, unfortunately: a lot of break ins. This means you will start seeing more surveillance cameras around Danbury.

In return for my explaining this to her, she explained to me what exactly the ancient order of the Hibernians is and what they do and how they are connected to Ireland. It all seemed really ridiculous to me, to be honest, but she seemed to be into it so I was into it, in the hopes of getting her to soon be into me.

We talked for a few hours and watched the parade go by. Afterwards we had dinner together, before she had to go home and I had to return to the city. We have kept in touch and I often ask her questions about Irish issues, but I’ve not yet had the opportunity to return to Danbury. I definitely want to do so soon, not because I like the town or even care about it, but because of her. Even better, she has expressed an interest in coming to New York to visit me. Let’s hope that happens soon. If she does show up, I will happily prepare her as many cups of green tea as she would like and I will listen to her stories about the Danbury Hibernians as well.

This post was written by a friend and none of the opinions are my own. The girl really is beautiful, though…I’ve seen a photo.

The Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea Powder

In recent years, the green tea powder matcha has been gaining in popularity in the West and this is mostly due to its supposed health benefits. More and more people have been getting their hands on this green tea now that you can buy it from many online stores.

I think the latte made with this powder at Starbucks helped as well, as do the many cooking shows that have been using it as an ingredient. Whatever the reason, matcha is becoming more and more of a household name and a big reason for that are the numerous health benefits. So let’s examine those and see what a cup of this tea will actually do for you.

Matcha green tea latte drink
The Iced Matcha Green Tea Latte from Starbucks

The first thing you need to know is this: one cup of matcha is the equivalent of 10 cups of regular green tea in terms of its antioxidant content and its nutritional value. The reason for this is simple. This powdered green tea is made from whole leaves that have been ground to a very fine powder that dissolves when put in hot water. As a result, when you drink this tea, you consume the whole leaves, which distinguishes it from other teas were you consume only the essence and discard the leaves. Thus, it makes sense that the health benefits would be much more concentrated. But what are those health benefits exactly?

Probably the most commonly cited benefit of tea, is its antioxidant content. This word has become such a buzzword and any food that contains antioxidants is being touted as a health food. From pomegranates and various other fruits to any number vegetables, the antioxidant content is a big key to their healthiness. But nothing contains more antioxidants than matcha. Its rating, the ORAC rating for those who are familiar with it, is 1300 units per gram, while the often touted blueberries have a rating of only 91 units per gram.

Chief among the antioxidants is the catechin epigallocatechin gallate (EGC). EGC counters the effect of free radicals from things like UV rays, pollution, chemicals, radiation, and other things that can lead to cell and DNA damage. A daily dose of EGC can help preserve our cells and our DNA, which aids greatly in cancer prevention.

Green tea powder is also rich in a rare amino acid called L-Theanine. This amino acid creates alpha waves which lead to a state of relaxed alertness and counters the stress induced beta waves. This is one of the big reasons monks have been drinking this tea for thousands of years and why it is the tea used in the ceremony. Furthermore, L-Theanine may actually help our memory and promote our learning ability, while at the same time counteracting the effects of caffeine. In other words, it helps us concentrate and keeps us alert, while reducing or eliminating the nervousness that comes with the consumption of caffeine.

Matcha also acts as an energy booster, which comes as no surprise given its caffeine content, but it turns out that this boost actually has nothing to do with the caffeine, but comes from the tea’s natural properties instead. A recent study even showed that drinking this tea can boost your physical endurance.

Many people tout green tea as a weight-loss miracle. While that may be a bit far-fetched, the fact that it has zero calories means it will certainly not hurt you. A recent study actually suggests it does much more than simply not hurt you. Apparently, matcha boosts our metabolism and actually helps burn calories by up to four times the normal rate. Unlike many drugs that accomplish the same thing, however, it doesn’t raise the blood pressure or our heart rate.

Finally, the chlorophyll that gives plants their green color and is responsible for the color of tea as well, actually acts as a natural detoxifier. It helps eliminate both chemicals and heavy metals from the body. And since the leaves used to make matcha green tea powder are grown in the shade they are much richer in chlorophyll than other teas.

On thing to note is that with radiation concerns (completely unfounded; matcha comes from areas far from Fukushima) about Japanese tea and pollution concerns with Chinese matcha (this stuff IS polluted), some people are reluctant to buy tea powder for fear that the health benefits are outweighed by the contaminant concerns. If you really want, maybe you can try growing tea on your own…….

Much research is still needed into the health benefits of tea in general and the Japanese powdered tea in particular. Many studies suggest incredible health benefits and none really suggest any detriments, so it certainly makes sense to drink tea. I think, as more studies are completed and released, the news will only get better. So why not start drinking tea now. And if you’re going to drink tea, why not drink the healthiest one. Get yourself some matcha.

For more information on matcha, check out Matcha Source or the wikipedia article on matcha.