New Delhi: With Indian consumers getting more aware and conscious of healthy eating, consumption of green tea, gluten-free products or super foods has seen a rise. Matcha, a green tea from Japan, is an ingredient being innovatively used in ice creams, cupcakes and donuts.
For the uninitiated, matcha is a finely ground green tea. In ancient Japan, monks primarily consumed it as a beverage of choice. Now it can either be dissolved in milk or water to add to its versatility -- and also for its health benefits.
"Apart from health benefits like improving moods, memory and concentration, helping you relax, aiding in weight loss, matcha has taken a diverse transformation into the culinary world with people being more conscious about what they eat," Chef Himanshu Taneja, Director of Culinary at The St. Regis Mumbai, told IANS.
"Adding matcha in food from a simple Frappuccino and turning it into a green tea Frappuccino, to adding matcha in our desserts like matcha cheese cake or a matcha ice cream, the ingredient is versatile and helps add to the health quotient," he added.
Experts say eating healthy and staying fit has become an area of focus for people across all age groups, and they are increasingly looking at a variety of options that contribute to that lifestyle.
Given that matcha is high in antioxidants, enhances calmness, boosts memory and concentration, increases energy levels and endurance, helps to burn calories and detoxifies the human body, improve cholesterol levels and more, it is fast making its way as an ingredient of significance.
Chef Rahis Khan of Delhi's Metropolitan Hotel and Spa says matcha nowadays is used to add flavour to a variety of Western-style confectionery items including chocolates, cakes, candies, cookies and green tea ice-creams as it is the only tea in which the entire tea leaf is dissolved in water to provide the maximum benefits of its components.
"We, at (the hotel's) Sakura (restaurant) serve matcha ice cream. Also, matcha-based drinks have been introduced such as smoothies, lattes, milk shakes and also alcoholic beverages," Khan told IANS.
Foodhall, a premium lifestyle food destination by the Future Group, is also experimenting a lot with matcha. It has started a matcha experience zone that has flavoured macarons, iced tea latte, cupcake, cookies, baklavas, eclairs and donuts.
"I think with more places experimenting with matcha as an ingredient, people have become more open to adding it and experimenting with such dishes," Olivier Vincenot, Corporate Chef at Foodhall, told IANS.
The combination of flavour and nutrition that it provides is interesting, says Smritika Sharma, Marketing Head at beverage brand RAW Pressery.
"Matcha is stronger as compared to other green teas, even when compared on caffeine levels. One must lower quantities right before bed time. Packed with catechins, matcha is an ideal pre-workout beverage. It boosts thermogenesis by 8 to 10 percent and hence improves fat burn.
"Matcha in cosmetics or through homemade masks is great for the skin. The chlorophyll present in the leaves acts as a powerful detoxifier which stimulates skin cells. Matcha, when applied topically, is also known to reduce sebum production and therefore is great for acne," Sharma told IANS.