Matcha is the queen of green cuisine. Many wellness trends have come and gone, but the world's love affair with this earthy East Asian delight is forever. You’ll spot matcha drinks, desserts, and creative entrées on menus everywhere – from five-star restos to quaint cafés. Matcha powder itself has already become a pantry staple for many home cooks and rookie baristas.
Matcha aficionados love to drink it for clean, crash-free energy. However, it's just one of its many benefits and uses. Its staying power is primarily from its versatility, distinct flavor, and wealth of nutrients. Here’s what you need to know about this popular superfood, how to prepare it, plus fun ways to enjoy it beyond your favorite creamy latte.
What Are the Benefits of Matcha Powder?
1. It has a high concentration of antioxidants.
Antioxidants defend against free radicals. These are unstable atoms that damage cells and cause chronic health problems. An antioxidant-rich diet can help neutralize their toxicity. Green tea, and matcha by extension, is high in catechins – a class of powerful antioxidants.
2. It may support overall health and immunity.
EGCG is the major catechin found in matcha. According to a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the compound can “exhibit a wide range of therapeutic properties including […] anti-diabetes, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant.” Researchers also consider it particularly beneficial to heart health.
3. It can give skin a supple, healthy glow.
Since free radicals can lead to visible signs of skin aging, having antioxidants in your system helps manage these effects. Antioxidants also help reduce inflammation manifesting as redness, swelling, and acne. You can even use matcha as a topical treatment for dull or irritated skin.
4. It helps improve mood, energy levels, and focus.
Many matcha lovers also tout it as an alternative to coffee. In terms of caffeine content, the two are comparable. Some matcha brands can have between 50-70 mg of caffeine per cup, while coffee averages around 90-100 mg per serving. But the real magic of matcha lies in L-theanine, an amino acid that promotes relaxation. Matcha has both L-theanine and caffeine, which work together to give you a sustained energy boost.
How to Use Matcha Powder: A Basic Guide
Two main types of matcha are available commercially: ceremonial grade and culinary grade. The former is mainly consumed on its own as plain tea, while the latter is suitable for lattes, desserts, cocktails, and other applications. Culinary grade matcha tends to have a more potent flavor that holds up when mixed with other ingredients like sweeteners. Versatile and beginner-friendly, this type of matcha is also less expensive and more suitable for daily use.
To make a simple matcha tea, you need tea powder, hot water, a vessel, and a whisk. Use a tea strainer or mini sieve to prevent clumping. Just whisk your powder and water together until you achieve a smooth, foamy liquid.
Pure matcha drinks taste initially rich, bold, and grassy, ending with a slightly sweet, nutty aftertaste. Some also describe good matcha as having deep, oceanic umami. Top-notch matcha bears practically little to no bitterness. It pairs well with sweets, explaining why many desserts highlight this flavor.
5 Matcha Desserts to Make at Home (Plus, 1 Versatile Topping)
Blondies are essentially vanilla-flavored brownies. They also feature brown sugar and lots of butter for a caramel-like sweetness. To make these blondies, combine all your dry ingredients, including your sifted matcha. Former Bon Appetit food editor Claire Saffitz recommends this method for all baking experiments that use matcha to avoid bitter lumps in your dough or batter.
Brown sugar is a must for moist, chewy blondies, while baking powder ensures they don't get too dense or cakey. You can skip the mix-ins if you want pure green tea goodness; otherwise, add nuts and dark chocolate chips as complements. Top with flaky sea salt to finish.
Green tea ice cream
Combine softened Selecta Super Thick Vanilla Ice Cream with a smooth, clump-free matcha paste. Mix everything with a spatula until your ice cream is a vivid green color throughout. Alternatively, you can achieve a stunning marbled finish by leaving a few white spots in the ice cream. Chill in the freezer so it can firm up again. Once set, scoop out and enjoy in a waffle or sugar cone for extra crunch.
White chocolate cookies
These cookies are similar to the fudge blondies above in prep, with a few key add-ons and swaps. As with the blondies, make sure to sift your matcha before combining it with the other dry ingredients. You’ll also want to use baking soda here instead of powder to help the cookies flatten and spread on the tray.
You can use a mix of brown and white sugar to add moisture, chewiness, and browning. Optional, but highly recommended: use browned butter for a deeper, toffee-like taste and aroma. And of course, this wouldn’t be complete without white chocolate in the mix! After combining your wet and dry ingredients into a smooth dough, toss in your chocolate chips or chunks. The added sweetness contrasts deliciously with the nutty grassiness of matcha.
Purin (Japanese custard pudding)
Japanese-style pudding is almost identical to Filipino leche flan, except it uses whole eggs instead of just yolks. To infuse your custard with the taste of matcha, you’ll need to dissolve the powder in hot water first. The process is similar to making matcha for drinking.
In a pan, heat milk and sugar together until the crystals are all absorbed. Add vanilla extract and the matcha liquid. Gently stir to combine before taking off the heat. Then, slowly pour the matcha milk mixture over beaten eggs in a heat-safe bowl. Run the mixture through a sieve to get rid of any lumps and bubbles. Pour into separate pudding molds lined with butter and brown sugar sauce. Let sit in a hot water bath or steamer for 15-20 minutes to cook the custard. Upend the pudding onto plates before serving.
Plain donuts are surprisingly easy to make at home, especially with an electric mixer. Make yours extra special with a sweet matcha cream filling! Heat milk and sugar in a saucepot. Separately, whisk together cornstarch, egg yolks, and more sugar. Once the milk is almost boiling, slowly add the egg mixture while whisking. Continue stirring until the custard thickens. Take off heat, then add butter, vanilla, and sifted matcha. Let cool before piping into your fried donuts
Milky matcha syrup
This one’s perfect for making café-quality matcha lattes at home. Just combine your sifted powder with condensed milk, whisking together until smooth. Store in an air-tight container or squeeze bottle and add it to whatever you’d like! Have it with ice and cold milk, over pancakes or ice cream, and even in a matcha-espresso hybrid a la Starbucks.
These matcha powder recipes barely scratch the surface of dessert possibilities. You can make so much more – from cream puffs to cupcakes. Start with these, and you’re sure to fall in love with the queen of green – if you’re not obsessed already!