I’m a mom, and I am a walking caffeine stereotype. Even as I’m typing this, my brain is shot because I haven’t slept in since Obama’s first term, and I can’t get anything done without some form of caffeine assistance, much like all parents before me.
Doubling down on motherhood with my New York heritage means coffee was not only a part of my routine, but my identity. Setting aside my own roots, coffee is a huge part of our culture. In a super outdated, but probably still accurate infographic posted by Massive Health in 2012, New Yorkers were consuming 6.7 times the amount of coffee than people anywhere else in the US. And since I’m based in Canada right now, here’s a little fact about Canada: it turns out maple syrup isn’t the only thing this country loves. Statista reports 4.87 million 60kg bags of coffee consumed in 2017/2018, higher than the 2014 figure which showed that 67% of hot drinks in Canada were coffee. So in North America alone, we have a serious coffee crush.
Coffee is prevalent everywhere you go. Whenever we want to link up with friends, it’s usually over coffee (or alcohol, but that’s for another post). Go to any social function, and there’s fresh coffee ready to be served. We are so used to drinking coffee, that sometimes it can be kind of weird to see people opt for a different beverage, and there are memes everywhere dedicated to our obsessive need for it. I’m not going to dive into a deep lesson on caffeine, but here’s a quick recap: it causes you to be alert and has some valid health benefits, but we tend to consume more caffeine than we need. It can cause a serious high and crash, and since caffeine releases cortisol (the hormone that is released when we are stressed), too much can imbalance our cortisol levels. This can make us moody, anxious, and lethargic.
For me, I found that coffee started my day off on the right foot, but by the afternoon, I felt a headache building without a second cup. I felt more agitated, stressed, and shaky, and my body didn’t like the sudden energy jolt coffee gave me. This may not be an issue for a lot of you, but it was for me and many others I’ve chatted with. So after feeling gross for too long, one day, I just.. went without coffee. The first day was fine. As you can imagine, the subsequent second and third days sucked. They were full of withdrawal symptoms (headaches, nausea, inability to focus, irritability). By day four, I started to turn a corner. By the end of the week, I felt fine. My energy was better, even. Mornings were still hard, though, partly due to low iron, and I missed having a drink every morning as part of my ritual for the day. That’s when I started to look into matcha tea.
Matcha is green tea, but rather than being steeped, it’s the entire leaf ground into a fine powder. It makes it more potent and health-effective than traditionally steeped green tea, and is extremely high in antioxidants. Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) units measure the level of antioxidants in foods, and matcha rings in high at 1,385 units per gram. For comparison, blueberries come in at 93 (source). While it does have caffeine, it’s half the amount found in espresso, and about on par with a single serving of coffee. But thanks to amino acid L-Theanine, which slows the release of caffeine, it’s like a steady, peaceful rise in energy. It’s calming and relaxing, and doesn’t give coffee’s signature intense burst with a crash. In summation, matcha is healthy, nourishing, calming, and steadfast in its uplifting nature.
I’m not going to lie, I used to hate matcha. I worked at a coffee shop long before matcha got on the radar, and we used a powder that smelled like gross play-doh. I hated it so much that, if given a chance, I would have my coworkers prep a matcha latte for customers. I never liked the taste because it was overly sweet and had a sticky texture, so I avoided it like the plague. I was apprehensive when matcha grew in popularity this past year, but after trusted bloggers and friends praised it, I decided to actually research its benefits for the first time. Friends looked at me quizzically when I said, but how do you get past the sticky, sweet texture and taste? They had never associated matcha with those two things, aside from the “cheap, gross stuff some coffee shops use.” This had me checking into the powder I had been familiar with, only to discover it in no way resembled true matcha. It was full of additives and sweeteners that gave it the overly sweet, sticky texture that shops felt consumers liked. While we are a country that loves our sweets, I’m finding a lot more people like me, lover of black coffee: we prefer naturally sweetened, or unsweetened, to anything else. So I gave real, unadulterated matcha a try and…
I didn’t like it at first! Because the smell still somewhat resembled the old powder. I had to get past that trigger reaction. So I slowly drank it throughout an hour and…
I started to tolerate it. Then I started to like it. Then I really started to like it. Then I bought some to make at home, followed some tips, and decided I love it. Admittedly, how I make it at home isn’t as great as some cafes I love, but I’m still figuring it out and adjusting. Here are some benefits so far:
- I have no headaches by midday
- I have no caffeine crash/tiredness
- It’s easy to prepare
- It can be made so many ways
- It’s the perfect conduit for collagen (more on that in a second)
- It helps me focus
- It keeps me more calm
- It’s delicious
- I’m writing this post in the morning, my least favorite time to put words in order, and actually succeeding
I haven’t noticed a groundbreaking boost in energy or focus, but I find I have enough energy to get through the day, and I’m not dying by 5pm. Sometimes I go for a matcha top-up when I’m running errands because I love matcha frappes by Starbucks (unsweetened), but that’s more of a special treat because I don’t trust their powder. I go for organic, ceremonial grade matcha which may seem expensive at first, but my little bag has lasted me almost two months! Culinary grade just isn’t as creamy, and tastes a little grassier than I prefer.
mY MoRNiNg MaTCha rOUtinE:
- heat water, coconut milk, or a mixture of the two (it depends on my mood) until just before boiling
- using a bamboo whisk, add 1-2tsp of matcha to a bowl with a little of my liquid mix and stir vigorously until it’s a little foamy
- pour into a blender with remaining liquid, plus 1 scoop of collagen powder, a dash of vanilla extract, and a sprinkle of cinnamon
- blend for 1-2 minutes for ultimate frothy foaminess (I do 1 minute, because I don’t like 3 inches of foam)
- enjoy the shit out of my drink
I add collagen peptides because it’s amazing for bone, joint, muscle, hair, and skin health. My husband is a carpenter, and I started doing jiu jitsu and MMA, so we both really need the extra support for our joints. Already we’ve noticed a difference just by adding 1 scoop a day to our morning drinks; since it’s completely tasteless and dissolves easily, we don’t even notice. I love when I don’t have to figure out how to take supplements while suppressing my gag reflex. We order our collagen from Vital Proteins, but if you don’t want to source from the United States, WithinUs is reputedly great and based in Canada. We live 5 minutes from the border, so it’s no big deal for us to hop across and get our powder. Speaking of, I just tried a matcha/collagen/coconut water blend from Vital Proteins this morning, and I’m a big fan.
One of the reasons I went for a blend is because I travel a lot, and this is so much easier to take with me. I don’t have to measure out my collagen or matcha separately, and since it includes powdered coconut water, I don’t have to boil up any coconut milk. I can easily get hot water from any fast food joint for free, and mix up my own. I do prefer it blended, so I may end up grabbing a travel milk-froth tool that is found on Amazon for dirt cheap (I’m looking at you, Aerolatte). Another reason I tried this out is because between me and my husband, we go through collagen quickly. I like that I have my matcha and collagen together in one place, while my husband has his coffee and collagen all on his own. I do want to give WithinUs’ matcha collagen mix a try, because they use powdered coconut milk and that sounds delicious. What’s rad is both companies do a subscription option, so you get to save a percentage off your order each time. You can also control the frequency of your shipments, which is helpful when trying to figure out how often you go through a container of collagen.
So that’s all I have to say on matcha and collagen so far. I’m still figuring out my favorite way to make it and how to perfect the best at-home latte, but I’m happy I made the switch from coffee. Which, by the way, I had a cup of for the first time the other day and loved the taste of it so much, I nearly gave up my matcha. To hell with antioxidants and peace, I told myself, when coffee tastes like the waterfalls from the gates of Heaven. Then a nasty headache hit around lunch time and I changed my mind again pretty fast. I’m flighty, I guess. I will probably enjoy some real coffee when I’m back home in New York, but I’m going to be on the hunt for some good matcha in my home city.
Do you drink matcha? Or are you coffee’s ride or die?