Often, certain ingredients make their way into the public sphere and catch the population’s attention because of their rumoured health benefits. This is certainly the case with matcha, which has ballooned in popularity in recent years.
But before individuals can consume matcha, there are a number of processes it must undergo before the ingredient is ready for consumption. For those aiming to enter the food industry, learn what there is to know about matcha.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a ground powder made from a plant called camellia sinensis, which is the same plant used to make teas. What separates matcha from other tea preparations is its harvesting and production process. Once tea buds begin to grow at the start of April, they are covered and shaded from the sun for at least 20 days in order to gradually decrease sunlight exposure and reduce photosynthesis. This action increases the amount of theanine and caffeine, limiting bitter tastes and enhancing matcha’s flavour and colour.
Once the leaves are picked, they undergo a series of stages before they are finally grinded up into powder. Professionals who have completed a food handler exam will be familiar with different processes that foods undergo. When preparing matcha, the first stage of prepararion involves steaming the leaves at a high temperature to prevent oxidization and to preserve its vibrant green colour. Next, the leaves are cooled down and the stems and veins are extracted from each leaf. The remaining leaves are called tencha: a dark green raw material that is used to make matcha powder. After grinding, the powder must be quickly refrigerated at low temperature or it will lose its flavour.
Students in Food Safety Training Should Know of Potential Health Benefits and Risks
As opposed to traditional tea where the leaves are steeped in water and then discarded, consumers ingest the whole tea leaves when drinking matcha. Due to this method, matcha tea provides a more potent source of nutrients. It contains rich antioxidant properties, such as polyphenols, that are said to help protect against heart disease and cancer, as well as help with blood sugar regulation, blood pressure reduction, and more.
With most ingredients and foods, it is important for students in food safety training to consider any possible risks that may be associated, especially during its production. Green tea plants have been known to contain traces of lead absorbed through the environment. Since individuals are consuming the actual leaves instead of consuming its steeped flavour, matcha is said to contain more lead than traditional green tea. However, consumers do not have to avoid the beverage altogether, but rather limit their intake to one cup per day and avoid giving matcha to children.
Matcha Can Also Be Used in a Wide Variety of Food Dishes
Since matcha is powdered, it has been used by many through different recipes and food preparations. From baking to cooking, matcha can be used to make muffins, brownies, cakes, stir frys, and other delicious dishes. It is recommended to purchase a high-quality, purer matcha instead of other powders that can contain milk and sugars for a healthier product. Also, it is beneficial to use matcha in moderation when mixing with other foods to avoid overindulgence.
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