There’s a quiet revolution happening at the cafés and coffee shops of Brighton & Hove as the march of matcha tea finds its way onto many drinks menus. Nick Mosley talks to Katherine Swift of Brighton’s OMGTea to find out more.
Matcha originates from Japan, and comes from the same Camellia Sinensis plant as all other teas. The difference is that about four weeks before it is harvested the tea field is shaded resulting in a 90% reduction of sunlight. To compensate for the lack of light the plants produce a huge amount of chlorophyll making the leaves dense in antioxidants & amino acids.
Once picked, the tea is freeze-dried and stoneground into a super fine powder – in fact, ‘matcha’ means powdered leaf in Japanese. Instead of being brewed like regular leaf tea, you mix the powder directly with hot water meaning you get all of the nutritional benefits in every cup. One cup of matcha has the overall benefits of 10-15 cups of regular green tea, and around 130 times the amount of antioxidant EGCg (Epigallocatechin gallate), meaning the drink is highly effective at protecting cells and DNA from free radical damage.
Its these health and nutritional benefits that are at the heart of Katherine’s OMGTea business.
“At OMGTea we are working with leading UK medical professionals, conducting scientific and clinical studies which leave no doubt as to the superior health benefits of matcha”, says Katherine. “We’re currently studying matcha’s impact on weight loss and breast cancer”.
Most recently, research revealed that the tea boosts fat burning and aids weight loss during exercise in healthy females.
“To be able to come out with these findings on fat oxidation and performance is just wonderful. I expect an increased interest to discover additional potential of matcha intake in the world of diet and exercise”, says Mark Willems, Professor in Exercise Physiology at the University of Chichester.
Now that all sounds well and good – but what does it taste like? If you’ve tried green tea then you’ll get an idea of what to expect, however Katherine’s matcha tea packs a more powerful flavour punch. OMGTea are the only organic matcha green tea to be awarded a coveted two star Great Taste Award so the nations food and drink experts certainly enjoyed it.
Katherine’s championing of the highest quality of matcha tea has led to many of the city’s eateries stocking it. You can enjoy a cuppa at V&H Café and Flour Pot Bakery, iced tea at Nuffield Gyms, a healthy shot at YouJuice, and even a cocktail at The Plotting Parlour. Local retailers including Infinity Foods and HiSbe also sell packs for home, whilst nationally even the likes of Amazon are making Katherine’s product available.
I recently tried an experimental matcha ice cream created by Katherine and Seb Cole of Brighton’s Boho Gelato so I wondered if we should be keeping an eye out for matcha tea appearing in food dishes too.
“In Japan they use it in more or less everything”, says Katherine. “You can even find matcha KitKats over there”.
For more information visit www.omgteas.co.uk