Have you jumped on the Matcha Bandwagon yet? If not, it might be time. I can’t walk 10 blocks in New York City without seeing a matcha reference in the window of a coffee shop, it’s literally everywhere! But why, you may ask? Great question – let’s start this post with a crash course in this health foodie staple.
Matcha is a green powder made from finely ground green tea leaves. The tea leaves used for matcha powder are unique in that they are shade-grown a few weeks before harvesting, a method that accounts for the increased production of caffeine. Once these special tea leaves are harvested, they’re steamed, dried and aged in cold storage until the dried leaves are ground into a beautiful deep green powder.
Unlike the typical steeped teas that we’re most accustomed to, matcha is dissolved in a liquid, most often water or milk, which means you’re actually ingesting the tea leaves, instead of tossing out the leaves once they’ve steeped.
Matcha’s caffeine content is more similar to coffee, which is why it’s become such a common replacement for morning joe. Matcha is a great source of antioxidants (and you know how much I love antioxidants!) and has been tied to benefits such as increased metabolism, blood pressure reduction and protection against cancer.
Ok crash course complete. Ready for the pop-quiz? Just kidding. Time to focus on today’s deliciously refreshing and energizing matcha recipe – Rosemary Matcha Iced Tea Lemonade. Iced Tea-Lemonade (aka Arnold Palmer, half-and-half, etc) is definitely my cold drink of choice (I got it from my mama, she’s obsessed). Lemonade is packed with sugar, so it’s not something I guzzle by the gallon, but when I’m in the mood, I don’t hesitate to satisfy my cravings (balance, people!). This Match-afied version of iced tea lemonade not only increases the health factor but also makes it an energizing drink that just happens to be outrageously tasty.
I added rosemary to the sugar syrup for some depth and boy did it work well with the tang of the lemons and earthy-umami-ness of the matcha. Pure perfection. This is now my ultimate pick-me-up drink for long work days when I need a jolt of caffeine, sugar, antioxidants and refreshment. I’m serious when I say this is an energy drink, so don’t drink too close to bed time. After all, a good night sleep is #1 when it comes to living the health lifestyle.
Rosemary Matcha Iced Tea Lemonade
Yield: 6 cups Serves: 6 Active Time: 10 minutes
3 cups water, divided
4 teaspoons matcha powder (I love Naoki brand Fine Ugi Matcha)
3/4 cup maple syrup (or sweetener of choice, see notes below)*
3 4-5″ sprigs fresh rosemary
1 & 1/4 cups lemon juice (5-6 lemons)
1+ cup cold water (filtered water preferred)
In a small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of water to a simmer. Transfer to a mug or glass container, stir in matcha powder. Stir well to remove clumps. Allow to cool to room temperature.
In the same (now empty) small sauce pan, combine 2 cups water and 3/4 cups maple syrup (or sugar of choice). Bring to a simmer, stir well. Remove from heat, add rosemary sprigs. Allow to cool to room temperature. Once cooled, remove and discard rosemary sprigs.
When matcha mixture and rosemary sugar syrup are cooled to room temperature, combine both in a pitcher with 1 cup cold water. Add 1 cup lemon juice. Stir well and taste. Add up to 1/4 cup more lemon juice. I like adding 2 tablespoons, but it’s a personal thing so do what tastes right. To mellow the flavor, add more water, 1/2 cup at a time. Allow to chill completely in the fridge before serving.
* for a drink that is a lighter/brighter green color, use a white sugar (like table sugar) – the dark green color comes from the brown color of many natural, less processed sweeteners (maple syrup, raw sugar, etc.)
* reduce the sugar if desired – to make this less of a treat and more of an everyday thing, use 1/2 cup of sugar when making the sugar syrup
**this drink is a pick-me-up drink – beware of drinking too late in the day, unless you’ve got a long night ahead or need a serious energy boost