The Secret Handbook 4 Teens

Are U a Good Match 4 Matcha?

I’m not going to lie. I’m completely and totally addicted to matcha (a powdered green tea) so I’m pretty much going to try to convince you that you ARE a good match for matcha! You’ve probably noticed that matcha is showing up on more and more coffee house menus (although Starbucks calls it a green tea latte) but perhaps you’ve been afraid to try to this alien green concoction. Fear not! I’m here to tell you how simple it is to make and why it’s good for you too!

I switched to matcha after my panic attack when I was looking for a less caffeinated alternative to coffee. The first thing I’ll tell you about matcha is that yes, it does have a less caffeine than coffee but it gives you this lovely energy boost (that I personally feel almost immediately) that lasts for a few hours. It doesn’t blast you with caffeine like coffee does but sort of imparts a nice alertness. Just perfect.

Anyway, you might be wondering what matcha is and why it’s a powder. Matcha is a green tea that is grown in the shade for the last few weeks of its growth and then ground into a powder. You’re drinking the entire leaf when you drink matcha which is why you get so many more health benefits. Matcha has lots of antioxidants and catechins (which can help with cholesterol) but it’s chock full of other good things too! Because you’re drinking the whole leaf it’s also why you get this lovely sweet flavor (if you’re drinking good matcha). I don’t recommend trying to skimp on matcha and buying a cheap brand. I started out this way and it’s very bitter so it’s probably ok for baking or smoothies but for pure sipping pleasure, spend a little more and get a ceremonial grade tea. You don’t have to hold a tea ceremony when making matcha like they do in Japan but you can make preparation a little mindful and special which, to me, is part of the joy of partaking of matcha.

Sure you can just dump a teaspoon of matcha in a mug with some hot water and stir it but with a few simple steps and tools, you can make a much more special and tasty drink. I highly recommend buying the following (and you can just google these and find lots of online sellers. I bought my stuff on Amazon because it was easier but it’s up to you!)

  1. A sifter. Putting the tea in a sifter over your bowl and sifting it through takes out the static and clumps and makes for a smooth tea with no overwhelming matcha sludge. You know those gross clumps you get when you make powdered hot chocolate? That’s because you’re not sifting so sift when making matcha for a smoother end product. Personally I’m probably going to sift hot chocolate from now on too!
  2. A bamboo matcha scoop or chashaku. Yeah yeah you can just dump in a teaspoon in a sifter but using this lovely little bamboo scoop is so much more fun and you always seem to get just the right amount (although you can obviously add or subtract depending on your own personal tastes.) Have fun with this and experiment!
  3. A bamboo whisk or chasen. Believe me, I tried just using a metal whisk but the fine pieces of bamboo make a lovely creamy foamy top (or crema) and it’s also super fun to do! It’s hard to stop whisking actually but try to control yourself people!
  4. A bowl. Sure you could drink matcha from a mug but there are lots of beautiful bowls out there to sip from. I bought one on Amazon from Japan with bunnies on it and it makes me happy every time I take it out.
  5. Finally and obviously you need some matcha! I just bought some at Teavana in the mall but there are lots of online purveyors out there to check out. Just make sure it says “ceremonial grade” so you know you’re getting better quality.

That’s it! With five simple tools you’re ready to make some matcha. This part is easy. Ready?

Just take a scoop of matcha with your chasen (or about a teaspoon of powder) and sift it into your bowl. Then take your heated water and pour in about an ounce or so (only a little bit in other words) and use your whisk to create the foam and try to get a whole bunch of small bubbles on the top. Once you have your crema on top you just gently pour in some more water and enjoy! Savor this process and slow down when you take your first sip! Try to bring some of that ceremony to your tea drinking and try to be mindful and aware of what you’re doing. Consider it a mini-vacation from life!

So there you have it. A little matcha 101 for matcha newbies like me. Once you get the basics down you can make lattes, iced matcha, etc. Any matcha fans out there? Let me know your tips and tricks and favorite brands! Namaste!




Why U Need 2 Picture Yourself as a Spry & Sassy Granny

My parents are pretty old. My Dad is 89 and my Mom is 83. My Dad is dying (which I can’t even bring myself to type about because I will burst into tears) and my mother has a whole suite of her own health issues. I was home to help take care of them last weekend and you can’t help but think about your own mortality when you’re around elderly people – at least I can’t. As I watch my parents struggle though I find myself thinking about what I can do now to improve the quality of my life when I get older. I know there are some things about aging that are inevitable but I also know that my parents didn’t take the best care of themselves and if they had, they might be more mobile and agile now.

I know as a teen that pretty much the last thing you think about is getting old but it actually really is important to start getting into healthy habits now that you will retain throughout your life. You know the drill – eat right and exercise. It’s not rocket science but trust me, it actually really makes a difference in your life especially as you get older. But really, you can see the benefits of eating right and exercising even now (do you get winded going up the stairs? Might be time to do a little more cardio) so imagine how that will help you when you’re older.  Oh and let’s not forget about your parents or other adults in your life who you care about. Encourage them to take care of themselves now so they can age with grace and good health for as long as possible. Trust me, watching them get old and struggling just to live their daily lives is so incredibly painful. Give them a little nudge in the right direction now so you and they can enjoy the future, whatever it may bring.

Sorry to be a little lecture-y but it is sooooo important to take care of your body so it will take care of you and allow you to truly enjoy and live your life whether you’re 18 or 81. Think about it once in awhile (trust me, the older you get the more you will think about it) and remind your loved ones too. Keep a vision who you want to be when you’re older and make a plan to get there. Who do you want to be when you’re elderly?