The Rising Popularity of Matcha

For a good couple of weeks, I was feeling lethargic, stressed and mentally messy. It started to show on my face as I began breaking out in places I never thought I’d break out, and the dark circles under my eyes became a mainstay. It wasn’t looking good. I reserved a mental checklist of how I could gradually fix all these things. It included obvious remedies that encouraged simple lifestyle changes, such as meditating more, going to bed early, eating more wholesome foods, and, most importantly, diminishing my caffeine intake.

Coffee is a tricky one. I appreciate the taste, but the inception of a headache beckons me to drink no more than one cup a day. It’s a shame, really, and it leads me to ponder on the health concerns of coffee that are often dwarfed by its social benefits. Most medical and psychology studies come to the same humdrum conclusion that we already know: too much caffeine is never great, and we ought to think twice before we guzzle that fourth flat white. That said, any adverse side-effects are entirely individual.

For me, I sought to avoid the stimulant for the sake of my skin. Coffee is acidic, and too much of it can trigger the stress hormones that control your skin’s oil production. Excess oil production induces an undesirable chance of clogged pores, and we all know the perils of a clogged pore. Additionally, coffee is a diuretic that leads to dehydrated skin. To improve my haggard look, I considered it worthwhile to find a decent substitute.

Cue matcha. 

One cup of matcha contains about half the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee. Dating back to the Tang dynasty in China, matcha is a finely ground powder made from green tea leaves. How exactly matcha differs from green tea comes down to its potency. The latter is produced by infusing leaves in hot water, whereas matcha is made by steaming the leaves, drying them, and grounding them into a powder, thereby making it stronger. In the health realm, matcha's a hip, new commodity that successfully catches the zeitgeist thanks to its prosperous mix of vitamins, antioxidants and amino acids that improve concentration and overall vigour. It’s essentially coffee without the jitters.

But is matcha more than just a fad? Industry insights state that the global matcha market was valued at 2.62 billion US dollars in 2016, and anticipates a compound annual growth rate of 7.6% from 2017 to 2025. This makes sense given a rising consumer demand for low-calorie drinks that have detoxifying properties. Our health-conscious culture has pushed for a multitude of nutritious shakes, smoothies and juices to hit mainstream shelves. In this way, matcha is now a firm speciality in many coffee houses, and even chains like Starbucks and Smoothie King have decided to give it a whirl. While it may be pricier than its counterparts, matcha is very much here to stay.