Mind & Body: The Quest for Authentic Matcha...

Lately whenever I drink my morning coffee I'm plagued by a nagging feeling that I'm in dire need of a health overhaul. I wish it weren't true, but I can't deny it to myself any longer. Shouldn't I start my day with a green tea or a superfood-packed wheat grass shot? I should, I know I should. Last year I gave up a host of bad dietary habits: gluten (which was an underlying cause of multiple issues), Splenda (horrible and very difficult to give up, but I did!) and protein bars. 

2014 was the year I committed myself to whole foods, less convenient meals (those aforementioned protein bars) and cleaning up my diet. Well... it's time to take it to the next level. Yes, I'm jumping on the goji berry, chia seed, matcha track much beloved by supermodels for good reason.

If 2014 was the year for eliminating the bad, I want this year to be the year I focus on adding in the good to my life and my nutritional routine. 

Why am I considering kicking my coffee habit? First: coffee is acidic. Green tea by contrast is rich in antioxidants and is alkaline in nature. It is hailed as a cancer fighter and a fat burner. All good things, but what I really want is a genuine health boost and an energy lift that doesn't affect my blood sugar levels. All of which lead me back to my coffee habits. 

That second reason? I don't drink my coffee black. I want to stop using stevia (my splenda stand-in in my daily java) and look for ways to radically transform my natural energy levels. In addition to stevia I also add either milk or creamer - neither of which seem easy to clean from my mugs, so I can only imagine what these film-inducing substances are doing to me internally. Ick. Ick. Double ick. 

And so...  it seems perhaps my rabid coffee-lust could perhaps, just perhaps, be replaced by something more positive and better for mind & body. 

Matcha is hailed as a miracle drink for all that ails us. And I'm ready to add this to my repertoire as well as add in a collection of those other yummy superfoods I mentioned. The berries & seeds are easy picks. These and a host of other popular miracle foods are readily available at Whole Foods and any organic market. Even Amazon can get them here in record time (hello, Prime!). 

But the matcha? It's a bit trickier. I'm not in search of the American version of this frothy whole-leaf tea concoction. I'd like to be a purist and enjoy a traditional bowl of the good stuff. After much research I determined that O-Cha has an amazing organic version. Prized for its smooth taste and rich verdant hue. But this award-winning Japanese tea requires special accessories to make properly, and it's no shock I don't have those specialized accoutrements on hand. 

Enter Panatea. I discovered them via a Bon Appetit article late last night. Panatea makes entering the world of matcha look easy and, dare I say it, desirable. Their videos and streamlined site make it seem simple to whip up a batch of this rich-in-antioxidants drink. Yes, they are Americanizing it for me (exactly what I swore I didn't want), but it makes the ceremonial drink a bit more approachable and attainable for the masses.

If you've been curious about matcha yourself, peep at their starter kit for a very reasonable $59. It comes with a traditional double-wall glass bowl, a measuring scoop and a traditional whisk (called a "chasen") to transform this coffee boss into a matcha guru in no time flat. Hopefully. 

Downsides: I don't see any reviews or details regarding the quality or source of their matcha powder. It's not organic and I see little info on the product itself. I'm not expecting the product itself to be on the level with O-Cha's premium powders. But... for my initial foray into the world of Japanese tea this starter kit might be a good first stop. The gateway product to set me on the path to my "zenlightenment" that surely must follow. Primarily, I see the acquisition of the tools themselves and the knowledge of how to use them as perhaps the real beauty of the Panatea offer. 

I haven't ordered it yet, but I've got a kit in my online cart. Pondering. Considering. Researching. (Note: I have no vested interest in the brand, but their sleek marketing and mention in Bon Appetit has me intrigued.) 

***update: I ended up going with quality over quantity. O-Cha makes a truly organic authentic premium grade matcha. It's on the way from Japan as I type this. From all online accounts this is a very good brand with high quality products. I decided to start with the very best and make my decisions from there!***

What about you? Have you matcha'd yet? Are you whisking up a frothy batch of the good stuff each morning in lieu of coffee or are you dabbling in it with matcha-infused baked goods or lattes? Do tell. Also.. Are you tossing back goji berries and chia seeds on the regular? I'd love to hear all about it. What nutritional changes are you making this year? 

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