There are dozens of reasons to consume Japanese matcha tea, and almost all of them have to do with the drink’s phenomenal health benefits, high antioxidant content and other healthful properties. “But wait,” as those old TV infomercial marketers used to scream, “there’s more!” In this case, there really is more. And no, you won’t get a free set of carving knives for ordering.
What began as a Chinese import to Japan almost a thousand years ago, solely for use in formal tea ceremony, matcha is now the undisputed king of the culinary and beverage world, both as a stand-alone beverage and as a recipe additive. Its health properties are already the stuff of legend, and boast a wide array of preventive and curative properties in the arenas of high blood pressure, depression, cholesterol, and common infections.
Coffee houses were among the first to “discover” its mass appeal about a decade ago. Now the food industry has caught on and so has one of the most lucrative segments of the modern commercial economy, the beauty market. Spas and high-end salons are among the most matcha-friendly locales in the capitalist universe.
And when the salon-spa niche gets hold of a good thing, they invariably find exciting new uses for it. For example, did you know you can use matcha tea as a hair conditioner, a facial scrub, a facial mask, soap, deodorant and a nail polish? Many even mix it with their favorite ice cream. Oh yes, it can also be added to very hot water and consumed as a beverage.
All kidding aside, the quite valid role of matcha tea powder as a mainstay in salons and spas is firmly established. Here are just a few of the ways that a hot drink from Japan’s ancient tea ceremony has changed the world. Note that each is a DIY treatment that will probably save you plenty of green:
The Matcha mask
This interesting journey begins in the frig. Add one tablespoon of yogurt, a tablespoon of matcha tea and slightly less than a tablespoon of honey together in a small bowl. Except for mixing, it’s almost done. Hint: It helps to sift the tea powder first. It’s also a good idea to let the ingredients reach room temperature before mixing. After thoroughly blending into a smooth paste, the mask is ready for application. Leave on for about 15 minutes and then rinse. Many people notice the effects immediately, but you’ll get the full benefit by doing a matcha mask once a week for a month or so.
Glam-green nail polish
This “recipe” is a simple and fun way to show your true love for matcha tea. Add a pinch of matcha powder to a small bottle of white nail polish, along with a drop or two of polish remover to thin out the mix and allow for shaking. Shake, shake, shake. The new color is what some call “matcha matte,” and its hue is amazingly agreeable.
Healthy hair conditioner
Matcha tea is good for skin, so why neglect the scalp? Add a tablespoon of tea powder to an equal amount of milk and massage it into your hair and scalp after shampooing, but before drying. Leave it in for about five minutes before rinsing thoroughly. (Consider a quick selfie for social media posts while your entire head is wet and green).
Tub time is tea time
The matcha tub soak formula is amazingly relaxing, but it’s also serious skin treatment. Allowing the tea’s antioxidants to cover your entire body in a hot bath is a powerful rejuvenator. For best results, don’t forget to shower the tea residue off your body (and tub) after the bath.
The elixir consists of one-quarter cup of matcha powder, one cup of Epsom salts, two drops, each, of lavender and peppermint essential oils, plus four drops of almond oil. After mixing it all into the bath water by hand, soak for at least 20 minutes. The results speak for themselves.
There’s so much that can be done with matcha tea besides mixing it into a hot or iced drink. From baths and facial masks to ice cream and hair conditioner, matcha seems to be slowly taking over the world. That’s a good thing. The humble green powder from Japan contains so many nutrients that it was probably destined to develop into a cottage industry of its own.
For almost a thousand years, the Japanese have been drinking matcha tea in Zen Buddhist tea ceremonies. Nowadays, the green powerhouse has shown up in practically every beauty product on the market and hundreds of culinary offerings, yet still reigns supreme as the elite of the elite in the world of green teas.
Anyone who enjoys drinking matcha should try at least one of the applications listed above. If you’re like most enthusiasts, you’ll end up literally bathing in the stuff, using it to condition your hair, and painting your nails “matcha matte.”
Whoever coined that old saw about “too much of a good thing” had obviously never encountered matcha tea. Seriously, who could turn down a soothing green-tea bath followed by a bowl of green ice cream? If you answered, “no one,” then you’re already part of the matcha revolution. Onward green tea soldiers!