Nobody likes to pick favorites. But, if you had to ask rock-star chef Candice Kumai to name her number one health food, while avocados hold a special place in her heart, her answer would likely be matcha—she did just launch a master class in the art of making it after all.
On Monday, at the inaugural Well+Good Retreat in Palm Springs, she schooled attendees on how to create a traditional matcha, plus a latte using it, almond milk, and coconut manna. As she pivoted between demonstrations and the storied history of the powdered green tea, it became clear that while many of us might like to sip the antioxidant-rich elixir in the morning, there are still common questions that come up about it. Least of which is: Why is it so stinking hard to make this myself?
Here, Kumai answers FAQs she hears about matcha and what you need to know.
1. Why does my at-home matcha taste different than what I get one at a cafe?
Sugar. Many of the matcha powders that you can buy when you’re out somewhere utilize sweetener. They’re also probably using proper equipment to foam milk. By using the chasen whisk and chawan bowl (two traditional Japanese matcha-making tools) or a standard blender like a Vitamix, however, you can get the matcha to oxidize and froth.
2. So, how exactly do you make it?
Boil water until it gets to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and let it cool for five minutes until it’s about 175 to 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Then, add the water to the chawan and make ‘M’ and ‘N’ motions in the bowl until you see an oxidization of bubbles at the top. You can also add coconut manna to help it froth and foam (this is the meat in the inside of the coconut), but I wouldn’t recommend using it every day because it’s rich.
3. What’s the difference between green tea and matcha?
Matcha is the entire leaf pulverized into a powder, and that’s why you get all of the benefits. You’re ingesting the whole leaf versus steeping, which still has benefits but isn’t as impactful as ingesting it.
4. Is there a difference between the caffeine in matcha and coffee?
Matcha often makes people less jolty than coffee. It’s full of antioxidants and L-Theanine, which is a really important amino acid that helps you to focus, without the jitters. By the way: Studies have shown that it does everything from improving brain function to helping calm the mind. While the word “calm might not exactly be what you’re going for in the morning, when paired with coffee, it helps to ditch the jolt that caffeine can sometimes cause.
5. Where do you buy your matcha and how long does it last usually.
I’m coming out with my own Matcha Beauty Powder (it’s almost ready for testing), but you can buy Matcha Love online. A small container will tend to last about a week if you’re an avid matcha drinker.
Kumai is a wealth of wellness knowledge. Check out her fave recipes for amazing skin. Plus, this is what she learned about mindfulness from living with Japanese monks (seriously).
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