NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – As you head out for your morning commute, you may grab a cup of coffee, but it may not be that way for long.
The green tea popular for centuries in Japan has made its way to the United States.
Matcha is poised to become the new morning go-to, thanks to its caffeine kick and health benefits, CBS2’s Alex Denis reported.
Graham Fortgang was a daily coffee drinker; he needed the jolt so he ignored the drawbacks.
“Espresso energy drinks make my heart race,” he said. “I was looking for something that was not only gentler on my body but would result in what I call, like, a more sustainable fuel.”
That’s when he found matcha– ground up green tea leaves harvested primarily from the Kyoto region in Japan.
It left Fortgang alert and relaxed, without the jitters associated with coffee.
So, he and his brother Max decided to open MatchaBar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the first modern matcha cafe in New York City.
“People who respond nice to it, they’re coming back every day. Instead of their morning espresso, it’s their morning matcha,” Fortgang said.
That morning matcha is a lot more accessible these days with cafes popping up from Los Angeles to Miami to Boston.
Tea expert Kathy YL Chan says matcha may be new to many, but it’s a mainstay that’s been around for centuries, first used by monks to center themselves during meditation.
Since you consume the entire leaf instead of simply a bag steeped in water, matcha has more fiber and 10 times the amount of anti-oxidants than regular green tea.
“The tea leaves that are used to produce matcha are shaded a few weeks before they’re picked, so you get lots of extra chlorophyll, vitamins– which is good for a detoxing, removing heavy metals from the body,” Chan said.
Now offered in flavors like iced Fuji apple ginger, sprinkled on Starbucks green tea lattes or used by models during New York’s fashion week, the growing matcha community is also taking to social media and sharing ideas, creations or simply beautiful photos.
And while Fortgang admits the flavor takes some getting used to, he believes green is the new gold.
“New Yorkers are the biggest skeptics in the world. So if you can turn them against coffee, you know, you can turn anybody against it,” he said.
Matcha isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. It has a very distinct earthy taste, but the strong flavor can be masked if mixed with other ingredients.