Happy Wednesday, friends! Ready to try something new up in here? Yup, you heard me — it’s time for us to shake things up a bit.
You in?! Let’s talk wellness. I mean, it’s all the rage these days, right?
Contrary to popular belief, my life isn’t all staying up late and baking at midnight (though I do both of those things more often than I probably should). In fact, the concept of wellness is truly front and center in my world. I feel like I’m always blabbing on IRL about some new wellness trend that I read about or saw on the ‘gram or finally got around to trying out myself. Yoga, meditation, adaptogens, açaí bowls, reiki, crystal healing… you name it, I’ve heard of it (and probably even tried it once or twice). I figured that instead of boring my husband, mom and friends with all my new discoveries, I’d throw some knowledge out to the interwebs in hopes that there are a few more of you crazy woo woo granola eatin’ yogis out there that might be interested in chatting about this shiz. So welcome to the newest addition to the blog: Wellness Wednesdays!
Maybe one day I’ll tell you guys a (very, very…. very long) story about my own personal wellness journey these last few years. But until then, we’ll just talk about random wellness trends on Wednesdays — because who doesn’t love a good alliteration, amiright?
First up: MATCHA! I KNOW you guys have heard about it. It’s kinda hard to avoid if you are plugged into any sort of social media or live in a major city. If you’re wondering whether matcha truly lives up to the hype…. well, read on :)
What the heck is matcha?
Simply put, matcha is a variety of green tea; in fact, both are derived from the same plant. However, the main different is this: green tea is made by steeping the leaves of this plant in water, while matcha is actually the leaves themselves, which have been ground into a fine powder. Got that? Green tea comes in a tea bag and matcha comes in powder form.
That said, matcha is more concentrated then green tea and, as a result, its health benefits are greater.
But what are the health benefits of matcha?
By now, I’m sure you’ve all heard the hullabaloo about green tea — it’s high in antioxidants, loaded with nutrients, contains anti-inflammatory properties, etc. As I mentioned, matcha is more concentrated — so basically, it’s loaded with the same vitamins and minerals as green tea, but ten-fold. And quite literally — I’ve heard that one cup of matcha provides the same benefit as TEN cups of green tea. Isn’t that insane?! Matcha is basically green tea on steroids (technically speaking, of course).
So besides being a nutrient-dense powerhouse, matcha boasts a slew of other indirect health benefits:
> increases focus, mental clarity and concentration
> boosts energy levels
> calms the mind and relaxes the body
> reduces stress and anxiety
> supports metabolism and immune system
> helps to detoxify the body and cleanse it of harmful elements
If you’re anything like me, your first thought is probably going to be: how the f*%! can something increase my energy levels AND relax/calm my body & mind at the same damn time? Mark my words, my friends: this is the real deal.
Wait… does this shit really work?
Easy answer: yes. I drink matcha almost every day and can attest to these benefits firsthand. Matcha provides me with a calm, clear energy and improves my focus, without the huge spike and eventual crash that I’d normally get from coffee (3pm slump, I’m looking at you).
Now don’t get me wrong — I love coffee. Like really, really love it. So believe me when I say that I certainly did NOT set out on a mission to remove coffee from my life. In fact, it all kind of happened by accident…
You see, last May we had an amazing(ly indulgent) week in Bordeaux, France — but when we got back, I dove head first into a 21 day elimination diet to figure out why I felt like shit 24/7 (daily croissants and bottles of wine notwithstanding). I ultimately realized that I was sensitive to both gluten and dairy, and cut them out of my diet altogether. I also figured out that I had been suffering from severe adrenal fatigue for months — brought on primarily by chronic stress, lack of sleep and generally just pushing myself too hard for too long. This article does a good job of explaining adrenal fatigue in more detail if you’re not familiar. Without going too much into the science behind it (hello, my name is Talia and I do math), my cortisol levels were all out of whack — and unfortunately caffeine did not help my cause.
So in the midst of all this elimination and experimentation, I also got a nasty cold. As a result, I somehow forgot to make my usual morning coffee for like a week straight (clearly I was out of my mind sick). Oddly enough… I felt okay. No headaches or any of the other typical caffeine withdrawal symptoms I’ve felt before. Understanding the effects of caffeine on adrenal fatigue (i.e., not good), I continued carefully along this path for a few weeks and learned that I apparently didn’t need coffee to survive each day…?! WHO KNEW.
However, I’m a firm believer in a morning routine. To me, there’s nothing better than starting my day with some light yoga & stretching, followed by a delicious, steaming mug of coffee. So if I couldn’t (shouldn’t) have coffee, then I needed something else to pour into my favorite owl mug each morning, dammit! I had been listening to health & wellness bloggers rave about matcha for months, so I decided to see what the hype was all about. I ordered some online from my favorite organic superfoods company and tried it out one morning…. only to find that it tasted like grass.
Now I’m going to tell you guys right now: matcha is an acquired taste. For those of you who have tried green tea before, I’m sure you can relate. There’s a slightly bitter, almost fishy taste to it (sorry, real life here) and it takes weeks of reminding yourself of all the benefits to finally get past the taste. No? Just me?
I personally am not a tea drinker and have tried — unsuccessfully, obviously — to get on board the green tea train. I just can’t do it. So if you struggle with the same issues I do, then I think matcha might be a good alternative.
But how do I drink it?
Matcha is traditionally made using a tea strainer, bamboo tea ladle and a bamboo whisk… heck, the Japanese even have special ceramic bowls meant for their tea ceremonies. I’m not even going to pretend I understand the traditional method, because I still can’t bring myself to drink it the traditional way (matcha + water). Bitter & grassy, yuck. But if you’re interested in learning more about it, this article is a good reference.
Instead, I prefer my matcha in latte form — and no, that doesn’t mean there is espresso involved! I admit, I miiiight have been under the impression that matcha lattes were made using matcha AND espresso. That idea was squashed once I spent 25 minutes in search of a recipe that didn’t exist…
But I digress. Back on track: matcha lattes are warm and frothy, typically made using just milk and matcha. I use my homemade almond milk, which brings a touch of sweetness and cuts through the bitter, grassy flavor of the matcha. And as you all know, I can’t ever have anything plain — so my morning matcha has a couple more ingredients tossed in for good measure. Maple syrup for added sweetness, cinnamon for its anti-inflammatory/antioxidant properties and collagen peptides for gut health (oh! next Wellness Wednesday topic, perhaps?!).
This matcha latte literally takes me 5 minutes to whip and the benefits last all day! Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself, I dare you!
(or just come over, I’ll make you one)
- 1 teaspoon matcha (see Notes for suggestions)
- 1 scoop collagen (optional - see Notes)
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon pure maple syrup
- ¼ cup filtered water
- ¾ cup milk of choice
- Heat water and milk over low heat until warm, roughly 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add to blender with remaining ingredients and blend for 1 to 2 minutes or until frothy.
- Again, if you're just trying matcha for the first time, I suggest using ½ teaspoon to start. Work your way up to 1 full teaspoon (or more!) slowly.
- When I don't feel like dragging out my blender for just one cup of matcha, I'll use a handheld frother or even a cocktail shaker -- just use what you have!
- I blend collagen peptides (always Vital Proteins!) into my matcha latte for additional collagen and protein. It also makes it extra frothy! Not necessary, but I highly recommend.
Wishing you luck in your matcha exploration, my friends! And feel free to gimme a shout if you have any suggestions for the next Wellness Wednesday :)