Matcha, a finely powdered green tea, is an ancient beverage first used for ceremonial purposes in China and Japan. The vibrant drink has expanded into many different cultures over the years, which has made way for all kinds of experimentation. Similar to the way masala chai grew to be a household name in the U.S., matcha has evolved from its humble yet strong beginnings into a wide array of new foods and drinks. It’s become approachable enough for the Western palate that that we’re now seeing it in excess. “Green tea lattes” are available in many coffee shops. It’s an ingredient we’re often seeing pop up in decadent desserts. And it’s being introduced as an ingredient in unlikely yet innovative combinations.
Many companies have marketed matcha in a ready to drink form, most often touting its many benefits. This finely ground green tea has been praised for being antioxidant rich, and noted for the simultaneously calming and alert sensation it provides. When bottled, chilled, and enhanced with other flavors, it’s an easy choice to reach for a matcha over coffee in the refrigerated RTD section of a grocery store.
Traditionally, the preparation of matcha calls for time and care. It requires a set of tools, the powdery tea itself, and hot water. The entire process takes only a minute or two, with the drink meant to be consumed quickly. Matcha is steeped in ritual above all – taking a few moments to focus on brewing a serving of tea for oneself, creating a sensory few moments of mindfulness in your day. Many have taken to making space in their day for matcha, in a society where the search for energy often culminates in the form of a caffeine rush and subsequent crash. While the trend of integrating matcha’s complex flavor and gorgeous green hue in pastries, lattes and even noodles might one day subside, the traditional preparation is sure to live on. The market for high grade, ceremonial matcha is alive, and companies are stepping up packaging to reflect the upscale quality of the product in a modern way.
Matcha is just one component of a growing trend surrounding mindfulness in the food and beverage industry. We’re looking forward to seeing what other products focus on reminding their audience to simply slow down and enjoy the experience.