Written by Stephanie Kalina-Metzger. If you are a foodie or health enthusiast, chances are good that you have recently encountered matcha in various forms across restaurant menus and social media posts. The finely ground powder is made of specially grown and processed green tea leaves. It pairs well with a wide range of ingredients and adds a green hue to many foods, which has only added to its popularity.
Search for matcha on nearly any social media platform to reveal a slew of appetizing pictures showcasing the many creative ways in which matcha is being incorporated into meals. You will likely see photos of mint-colored ice cream, grass-hued confections and steaming-hot cups of creamy lattes featuring feathery, swirled beverage art that was once the domain of coffee baristas. Even green doughnuts look appealing with their shiny, lime-colored matcha glaze, and by all reports consumers are eating them up.
However, matcha doesn’t just create good-looking food. It is also good for you. As the word spreads about its health properties, businesses are responding, both in the food world and beyond.
Geraldine Ridaura opened Holy Matcha in spring 2017. “It all stemmed from being annoyed about having to buy my matcha online. I had been drinking it for eight years, and there were no matcha cafés in San Diego,” says the entrepreneur. The niche evidently needed to be filled because, according to Ridaura, business has been brisk. “The community support has been out of this world.”
Ridaura offers matcha donuts, ice cream and a whole host of matcha lattes from strawberry to coconut and pumpkin. One of her best-sellers is the matcha horchata based on her grandmother’s recipe. “It contains homemade rice milk, vanilla, cinnamon, stevia, almond milk and matcha, and is served over ice,” Ridaura says.
Although Ridaura considers herself an innovator, she also embraces the educational aspect as well, offering information on the history of matcha. “Buddhist monks needed help with concentration for meditation, and ceremonial matcha would calm them down and center them.”
She also shares insight into its health benefits.“Matcha [helps neutralize] free radicals, lowers inflammation, detoxifies organs and speeds up metabolism,” Ridaura says. She credits the beverage for helping her get back on her feet quickly after knee surgery and encourages others to give it a try. “It’s amazing the way it makes you feel,” she says.
Beauty Meets its Matcha
At Omni Mount Washington Resort in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, Spa Director Jesse Tyler uses matcha-based products for the spa’s skin care services. “Matcha might be trendy, but we’ve learned it has lasting skin care benefits. Because it’s a slow-growing tea, there is more chlorophyll in the leaves, which makes it a really great skin brightener. It also helps protect the skin from UVB rays, especially when used regularly,” she says. The 25,000-square-foot hotel spa with its 13 treatment rooms is a nature-inspired respite. “Using botanicals and the power of nature is a perfect fit for our premise of bringing the outdoors in,” Tyler adds.
The 50-minute facial, which also addresses the hands and décolleté, begins with a glycolic peel to exfoliate and remove the layer of dead skin to better receive the benefits of matcha’s rich antioxidant properties. “Antioxidants limit the production of free radicals, which damage the cells and lead to signs of aging,” Tyler explains. The Spa partners with Naturopathica, a New York-based business focused on beauty products made with natural ingredients. Guests are offered a matcha-based brightening décolleté and hand cream from the line to continue to reap the benefits when they return home.