Every few years or so, a new food phenomenon sweeps people off their collective feet. In recent years, matcha has made a big splash in the food (and beauty) world, earning it a spot on many booming trend lists. But matcha isn’t actually new. It’s old. Older than great grandma old. Thousands of years ago, Buddhist monks began a ritual of grinding tea leaves into powder and mixing it into hot water with bamboo whisks. Today, the ritualistic tea is experiencing a renaissance in the west, and for good reason.
Matcha (from the Japanese “ma” meaning powder and “cha” meaning tea) is a powdered version of green tea. Instead of steeping the leaves and drinking the liquid like traditional green tea, you’re drinking the whole leaf, in powdered form.
One of the many reasons why matcha is being heralded as a superfood is because in comparison to your classic steeped green tea, the percentage of antioxidants in matcha is much higher. More specifically, it contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate). This has gotten a lot of attention in recent years as EGCG has been found to have antioxidant effects, and could be preventative in fighting free-radicals known to cause cancer. While the jury is still out as to how much green tea is both safe, and protective against disease, the research has been positive in showing that green tea could have a place in a healthy diet, and aid in preventative health.
It’s also unique in how it’s harvested. The leaves are shaded from the sun several weeks before harvest to slow down growth, increase chlorophyll levels, and boost the production of amino acids, like L-Theanine, which gives you a gentile pick-me up without the jittery side effects of caffeine. Win win.
For newbie matcha friends and lovers alike, you can’t go wrong with these Matcha Truffle Balls. Matcha’s slightly bitter, somewhat umami, grassy flavor is rounded out with the sweetness of the Medjool dates, coconut, and vanilla extract. The dates are also a healthier alternative to refined sugar and have a lot of amazing nutritional benefits, including 50% more potassium than bananas by weight. Potassium helps move our muscles, maintain healthy blood pressure, and regulate our fluid balance. All the more reason to pack a few of these for your day, right?
But before you dive into this delicious recipe, there are a few things to note. It’s important to purchase high quality matcha. All tea (whether it has been organically grow or not) that is grown in soil with lead, will ultimately have some level of lead in the tea itself. And since you’re in fact consuming the tea leaves when you’re consuming matcha, it’s important to purchase quality tea from a location where lead contamination is minimal.
Also, there are different grades and types of matcha on the market. For this recipe, culinary matcha is best. It’s specifically blended for use with other ingredients and has a more robust flavor than ceremonial grade matcha. To preserve its delicate flavor and consistency, store your matcha in a closed storage container away from moisture, light and heat.
Matcha Truffle Balls
Coconut dark chocolate, no-bake energy balls dusted with matcha
Tags: Gluten Free, Vegan, Raw
Prep Time 15 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
¾ cup dates pitted
½ cup whole raw almonds
¼ cup cocoa powder
¼ cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1 tbsp. matcha powder plus more for rolling
2 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1. Place all the ingredients into a food processor. Blend until finely chopped and blended.
2. Using a cookie scoop, scoop out balls of mixture. Roll between your hands to create evenly sized balls.
3. When all balls have been rolled, dust them with matcha powder.
4. Refrigerate for 15 minutes then enjoy.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julianka Bell, MS, RD
Julianka Bell is a Registered Dietitian, nutrition consultant, and founder of Nutrition Her, a platform focused on having an honest conversation about women and food. She works with food and wellness brands to help tell their story, and provides personalized nutrition counseling in New York City. She holds a Master of Science in Nutrition from Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition. You can find Julianka on Instagram @nutrition.her.