What’s green, caffeinated and more ubiquitous than that one speedo-clad guy who shows up at everyone’s yoga class? Matcha!
That’s right, the finely ground green tea leaves that have been part of Japanese and Chinese culture for centuries is fully in the mainstream (you can’t walk around New York without passing a dedicated matcha bar or shop every few blocks), and we couldn’t be more excited. Not only is the stuff delicious, the preparation is incredibly soothing if you choose to make your own — it’s a great alternative to yet another cup of coffee and it is loaded with antioxidants, making it one of the most health-supportive things you can sip.
Still not sold on the wonders that is this gorgeously green powder? Here’s a quick overview and a short history lesson: Matcha is finely ground powder made from green tea leaves that have been grown in the shade, conditions which produce more theanine (a relaxing amino acid) and caffeine than typical green tea. This combination of chemicals is what accounts for the “calm energy” effect people get from drinking the stuff as opposed to the shakes you can get from too much coffee. In the twelfth century, matcha came to Japan care of the Chinese, where an elaborate tea ceremony around its preparation was (and still is) practiced. Zen Buddhists were even believed to drink matcha for meditative focus.
Calm energy aside, matcha also boasts an impressive roster of health benefits. It’s particularly high in antioxidants like polyphenols and EGCG that have been linked to everything from slowing the growth of cancer cells, lowering cholesterol and blood pressure, anti-aging, fighting inflammation, regulating blood sugar and boosting metabolism. And since you’re actually drinking the ground leaves (instead of steeping them in hot water like other teas), you ingest more of the nutrients.
Not too shabby for something you can pour over ice and sip through a curly straw!
By all means, continue to sip out of that curly straw, but there’s no need to let your tastebuds have all the fun. Yes, drinking and eating your vitamins and minerals is almost always the preferred method of getting them where they need to go — into your body — but your skin can also drink up matcha’s goodness. (See what I did there?)
Here are a few matcha-infused beauty products to let the tea leaves work their magic on your face. Throw in a little matcha-fuelfed meditation every once in awhile and you’ll positively glow.
When it comes to antioxidants, you’d be hard-pressed to find three more potent purveyors than matcha, acai and goji berries. Lucky for you, all of ‘em can be found in this mask from always-reliable Pangea Organics. Not only does the mask deeply cleanse and detoxify the skin thanks to the inclusion of white clay, it also leaves tired, dull skin rejuvenated thanks to a hefty dose of moisture. The matcha, goji and acai work together to pack skin cells with vitamins, minerals, amino acids and proteins to restore and brighten the skin on your face. And the 10-20 minutes you wear it present a pretty perfect time to practice your matcha whisking skills if the mood strikes.
Matcha is a whiz when it comes to reducing inflammation in your organs thanks to its status as being chock full of antioxidants. So let it work that same magic on your tired, inflamed skin with a matcha-infused body scrub. Flora Remedia’s version combines matcha powder with raw sugar and sea salt to treat redness, inflammation and body acne, while the eucalyptus oil offers not only moisture but also a gorgeous scent to help you de-stress, refresh and revitalize your shower routine.
What do you get when you blend organic matcha, organic virgin coconut oil and organic beeswax together? If you answered lip balm, under eye balm, dark circle corrector and spot treatment, get yourself a prize. This stick from Captain Blankenship may be tiny in stature, but it more than makes up for its small size by being a veritable Swiss Army Knife of skincare benefits — and all with only three ingredients. The antioxidants in the matcha help fight off baddies that have taken up residence in the skin and de-puff while the coconut oil offers up deep moisture and nourishment. Then beeswax swoops in the seal the deal, locking hydrating in and protecting the skin from the elements.
If you want to keep things simple, you can always whip up a good old fashioned DIY face mask with a spoonful of matcha powder and some manuka honey. You’ll look like a swamp creature for a few minutes, but the combination of soothing, anti-inflammatory matcha and acne-and-bacteria-fighting honey can’t be beat, especially if you’re dealing with a pimple situation. What’s more, this type of mask is super gentle while also being incredibly effective, so you should be ok to use it every couple of days if the mood strikes.
One thing to note: This Sun Potion White Dragon Matcha is high grade and of excellent quality, so if you want to save if for sipping, no hard feelings.