Whether you’re taking a powder on coffee or are just really into latte trends, you should know matcha’s one to watch. The potent, ground green tea originally made its way from China to Japan in the 12th century, and now it’s taking the rest of the world by green dust storm—seriously: It’s an ingredient in everything from soft-serve ice cream to face cleanser. So how did its popularity brew, and what does this have to do with you? Your primer ahead!
The Origin Story
Matcha tea was first produced in China in the 10th century, and the process remains pretty much the same today if you can believe it—green tea leaves grown under special conditions (more on that in a minute) are steamed, pulverized into powder, and formed into small bricks. To turn this into a foamy drink, hot water gets added and whipped using a (very fancy-looking) bamboo whisk.
Ever since matcha came to Japan care of a 12th century Buddhist monk, it’s played a starring role in the culture’s elaborate tea ceremonies—which has led to the country being the best-known producer of the stuff. How does it get its punchy color and very buzzy caffeine levels? The plants get covered several weeks before harvest to shade them from the sun to boost chlorophyll levels—yep, taking you back to the photosynthesis unit from middle-school science class.
The Rise to Fame
Fast-forward to today when matcha-centric shops are popping up from coast to coast, and you can find the ingredient in cookie, breakfast bowl, and even salmon recipes. Since Americans have been embracing tea as an alt to coffee, it’s no surprise this is taking off in beverage form—especially given that consuming the whole leaf really packs a punch in the antioxidant department. Turns out, though, that skincare products can take advantage of those perks, too.
7 Ways to Explore Some More
- Start with the basics: Learn the right—and surprisingly fun!—way to whisk your way to a classic cup. Business Insider has an expert guide.
- You’ll probably need some supplies, huh? Set yourself up with a starter set, or go the time-saving, pre-mixed route.
- Ready your earbuds and hear all about how traditional Japanese flavors like matcha (and miso and tofu!) can amp-up your desserts thanks to this Splendid Table conversation between Melissa Clark and Kyotofu author Nicole Bermensolo.
- Let’s put it on popcorn, too! Fork and Flower knows the way.
- If you need a bit of stress-relieving, self-care—who doesn’t?—Teen Vogue has a DIY bath bomb for you.
- Use the stuff just for its glorious hue. Turns out, matcha makes for a pretty natural frosting dye—Martha Stewart says so.
- Next-level use for the in-green-dient: homemade matcha pasta.
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