Nothing embodies the spirit of Japanese tea ceremonies quite like matcha. Its unique flavor and bright green color have recently found their way into desserts and snacks all around the world. Let’s embark on a journey of discovery and find out why people in Japan and other parts of the world can’t get enough of matcha. We’ll start with the basics: what is matcha?
Matcha is an edible powder made from green tea leaves. This powder is used as a type of flavoring for traditional Japanese tea, snacks, and desserts. Surprisingly, matcha originated in ancient China and was brought to Japan in 1191.
Today, matcha tea has a place in the country's culture and is served at popular coffee stores, weddings, and other special ceremonies. But it's not just a delicious beverage; it's also used to make foods like ice cream, mochi, and daifuku. Matcha flavor now has a hold on the snack industry that many didn’t foresee, and it's largely due to its unique flavor profile.
Let’s take a deeper dive into the world of matcha snacks!
Matcha Powder: The Key Ingredient in Japanese Matcha Snacks
Matcha is a product of the Camellia sinensis plant’s leaves. The leaves are also called green tea leaves, and the best ones for making matcha are young and shaded from the sun. They are ground with a heavy stone to make matcha powder. The resulting powder is used as an ingredient in different snacks, bringing the authentic matcha taste and color to these goodies.
The Unique Flavor Profile of Matcha
At a time when most snacks are sugar-filled sweet treats, matcha has found success by bringing a distinct flavor profile to the market. It has a mellow and hearty taste with savory undertones. Many may even consider the initial taste of matcha bitter; however, the aftertaste is often accompanied by sweeter notes.
It works well as a green tea drink and as a versatile ingredient for traditional Japanese snacks because of its umami flavors. Umami happens to be a big deal in Japanese cuisines, and matcha brings that beloved sweet and salty deliciousness to snacks and desserts like stretchy mochi, crunchy choco biscuits, tasty chocolate bars, and yummy flavored creams.
The Health Benefits of Matcha Green Tea
Matcha’s umami taste is not the only reason for its global popularity. Medical experts have proven that green tea matcha is a great choice for health-conscious consumers. Below are some of its biggest health benefits:
Prevents Diseases: Matcha contains chemical compounds that act as antioxidants, helping to reduce cell damage. These antioxidant properties can prevent chronic illnesses, including certain types of cancer.
Improves Brain Function: Matcha’s chemical composition includes caffeine and L-theanine. They help brain function by improving memory, focus, and reaction speed.
Contributes to Heart Health: Green tea is considered an inhibitor of several heart problems, and matcha has a similar composition that provides the same benefits.
Helps with Weight Management: People looking to lose weight can turn to matcha for better results. It aids metabolism and helps the body burn fat quicker.
From Tea Ceremony to Snack Time: The Cultural Journey of Matcha
In the year 1191, a Japanese Buddhist monk named Eisai returned to Japan from China, and he brought along two important gifts. The first was the concept of Zen Buddhism and the second was matcha.
Eisai introduced “the way of tea,” a ceremonial practice of preparing and drinking green tea using traditional methods. This practice would later form the basis of tea-serving at Japanese tea ceremonies (Chanoyu). Teas made with matcha were considered to have the best quality. Hence, matcha became a symbol of Japanese hospitality and respect, the core values of these ceremonies.
Years later, Japanese chefs began to use matcha as a flavor for traditional snacks like tempura and mochi. As Western influence grew in 20th-century Japan, less traditional desserts such as chocolate, latte, frozen yogurt, cookies, and pastries began to have matcha in them.
The Role of Matcha in Japanese Tea and Snack Culture
Today, matcha plays a dual role in Japan. It functions as both a traditional tea and a modern snack flavor. This has greatly contributed to its fame among both young and older generations. It is associated with umami, sweetness, culture, prestige, and healthy living.
Matcha Snacks: A Fusion of Tradition and Modern Taste
In the 8th century, people drank tea in Japan, and it wasn’t long before they began to eat snacks alongside it. When green tea became popular, they attempted to enhance the flavor with the help of tea-time snacks such as mochi, senbei, wagashi, and manju.
The appreciation for matcha snacks and their health benefits expanded overseas in the 21st century, thanks to the rise of social media. Matcha’s growing popularity led to its being incorporated into modern snacks, blending centuries-old traditions with contemporary flavors.
Innovative Matcha Snacks on the Market
Let’s have a quick look at some innovative matcha-flavored snacks available on the global market:
Matcha chocolate bar
Matcha biscuits with thick green tea filling
Matcha organic coconut cookies or macaroons
Matcha ice cream
Matcha wafer cookies or green tea covered wafers
Matcha chocolate almond snacks
Matcha cream sandwiches
The list could go on and on as top snack and confectionery manufacturers continue to come up with creative ways to offer sweetened matcha flavor combined with tasty treats, such as Kit Kat’s green tea chocolate collection.
Matcha and Chocolate: A Perfect Pairing
A lot of the snack brands that incorporate matcha into their product lines for the first time tend to go straight for green tea chocolates. This is because matcha and chocolate pair well together. Matcha flavor has a bitterness that contrasts with chocolate’s sweet taste, creating a perfect balance of flavors that has led to the popularity of matcha chocolate snacks.
DIY Matcha Snacks: Bringing the Flavor Home
Before you attempt to make DIY matcha snacks, you should know that there are two major matcha powder grades: ceremonial grade and culinary grade. The culinary-grade matcha is best for making snacks because it maintains its strong flavors after the rigorous snack-making process. It’s further subdivided into categories: premium, cafe, classic, ingredient, and kitchen.
Premium, cafe, and classic grades for making blended drinks and latte
Ingredient grade for making dessert
Kitchen grade for making baked snacks
The Global Rise of Matcha Snacks
Matcha has captured the hearts of snack lovers around the world. While several Asian countries, like Japan and China, have known about delicious green tea snacks and their health benefits, a lot of other countries are only just catching on. Now that matcha is mainstream, we can only expect its popularity to grow in the coming years.
Matcha Snacks as Healthy Alternatives
Traditional snack foods contain long lists of artificial, questionable ingredients and tend to be too sugary, salty, or fatty.
Traditional snack options tend to contain artificial ingredients and coloring. Many of them are too sugary or fatty. Matcha snacks offer a healthier alternative, thanks to the green tea nutrition benefits we mentioned earlier in this post.
Why Matcha Continues to Captivate: Consumer Trends and Preferences
A big part of the reason for matcha’s global rise is the growing interest in unique flavors and healthy eating. With countries like the US among the top ten most obese countries in the world, many people who tried matcha did so for the health benefits. As it got more trendy on social media and food blogs, more people began to appreciate the unique flavor.
The Future of Matcha Snacks: Trends and Innovations
The future of matcha snacks looks brighter than ever! Experts are expecting the matcha product market to grow by about 10% over the next decade. You can join in on the trend by enjoying matcha-flavored versions of your favorite snacks.
Are you a Japanese green tea fan? Subscribing to Bokksu Snack Box gives you monthly access to matcha-flavored snacks and other Japanese snacks. You can try different types of exclusive matcha snacks, along with other Japanese flavors and even tea. All of the products are shipped to you directly from Japan, and we offer free worldwide shipping! Subscribe now to get a steady supply of the best matcha snacks Japan has to offer.