Matcha green tea is a refined type of green tea that has an ancient tradition and it is an essential part of Japanese culture and of the tea ceremony (茶の湯– Cha no yu). 

Moreover, in the last few years, Matcha green tea has started to gain increasingly more popularity among customers outside the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Bright green and intense aroma. These are the two characteristics of this tea. 

The Matcha green tea plantation is very delicate and it requires a careful plantation and production. In fact, the plantation has to be favoured by ideal climate and soil conditions, without forgetting the fact that these plantations have to be repaired from the sun light. Uji (Kyoto prefecture) is where the most refined Matcha green tea comes from. 

Farmers collect by hand tencha leaves, and subsequently, the powder of the final product is obtained through a stone grinding process. Therefore, the powder obtained from this process can be mixed with hot water, milk or it can be used in other types of dishes. Matcha green tea is also used to prepare the well-known matcha cappuccino, matcha latte and in Japan we can find it in several products, from ice-creams to smoothies, from mochi (rice cake made of glutinous rice) to kitkat. 

There are two preparation methods:

  1. Usucha: it is the most common preparation and it is the one used when we order a matcha tea at the bar. 
  2. Koicha: it is the preparation used during the tea ceremony, where the tea is mixed by using the Chasen (茶筅), namely the bamboo tea whisk typically used to mix the beverage. 

However, considering the ancient tradition, matcha green tea shouldn’t be underestimated as it has many advantages; so many that it can be considered a “superfood”: 

  • Antioxidant:  it is a powerful antioxidant and one single cup contains more than other foods (for instance pomegranates and blueberries).
  • Energy: it also gives a lot of energy thanks to its natural properties. 
  • Concentration and memory: thanks to the L-theanine, matcha green tea helps to reduce stress levels and favours more concentration and memory. 
  • Digestion: matcha green tea also has many digestive proprieties since that it helps to protect the mucous membrane of the digestive system. 

Matcha green tea, other than the characteristics mentioned above, has many other proprieties; and we shouldn’t forget that it is delicious.

Try it! 

Signed 

Technical committee 

GLUTAMMATO

MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE, THE “CHAMELEON” ADDITIVE.

Additives are chemical ingredients that are used as ingredients. They can be grouped in several families: colourants, preservatives, antioxidants, emulsifiers, flavour enhancers etc… for a total of about 900 compounds. What puts them on the same level is the way they are codified, namely the acronym made of two components: the letter E (which refers to Europe) and a numerical identification code. When we look at labels, we can find the name of the substance, its code or both. 

The first of which I would like to unveil the identity is the E621also known as monosodium glutamate (MSG), which is one of the most common synthetic origin flavour enhancers. Do you know when you have the irresistible “desire” to finish up, in just one second, a bag of potato chips? What makes you go crazy is exactly the E621; in fact, it can excite your taste buds and makes you want to eat all those foods that contain it. The fact that packaged foods have irresistible flavours, it doesn’t mean that it is equally healthy for our health. What this flavour enhancer does is to trigger a real addiction, and widely contributes to promote obesity. Do you know what are the foods where we can find the monosodium glutamate? Generally speaking, in processed foods. It can be found in so many products that I’ll mention just a few examples:

  • Potato chips
  • Packaged soups
  • Frozen foods
  • Prepared foods
  • Candies 
  • Spreadable creams

However, another characteristic we should pay attention to is the fact that on the label it is not always written E621 or its full name. This additive can hide several other denominations, such as: glutamic acid, glutamate, hydrogenated vegetable oils and fats, hydrogenated proteins, gelatine, sodium and calcium caseinates, yeast extract or added yeast. In particular, any type of natural flavour or artificial flavour often contains monosodium glutamate. The majority of international scientific studies have determined its neurotoxicity; Dr. Blaylock’s (eminent American neurosurgeon and nutritionist) 2007 new research confirms it and shows that this additive aggravates cancer and amplifies tumours. 

There can be several side effects, such as weight gain, nausea, arrhythmia, hyperactivity, skin rashes, swollen legs and much more. Here’s a little curiosity: considering that this additive is used very often in Asia and India, some American restaurants have recently started to place signs saying, “NO MSG HERE” as a way to attract informed customers.  Now that you have come to know this ingredient, don’t worry if you have already consumed it a hundred times, with or without side effects; now that you have more information about it, exploit it to say yes or no when you go to the grocery store or before consuming a product that contains it, whether you are at the supermarket or at a friend’s house. It is important to identify it and to avoid it!

In the last few years in many Italian cities we have started seeing an increasing number of restaurants

that offer sushi and other dishes of Japanese cuisine, triggering a real sushi mania. Undoubtedly, sushi is the most popular Japanese dish outside the Land of the Rising Sun.

In addition to this, Japanese cuisine was also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In fact, our health can benefit from Japanese food (Japanese can claim to be one of the mostlong-lived populations thanks to their diet).

However, regardless of this diffusion that has almost become a fad or a mania, are we really aware of all we need to know about sushi? What are its benefits? What are the small detailsthat we should pay more attention to?

By now, in Italy there are many Japanese restaurants that give us the opportunity to eat sushi at lunch or dinner at a bargain price, or with the most popular proposal known as “all you can eat”. Even though these offers don’t make us think twice about entering the restaurant, what we eat not always is healthy and safe. 

If we think about the fact that with a price range of 10/20 euros the client can eat as much as he/she wants, the quality of the fish must be quite poor. Moreover, if we bear in mind that the majority of the fish served is raw, restaurants have to respect specific hygiene standards in order to guarantee a safe and delicious dish to their clients. In fact, the abatement of raw fish is fundamental, and every single restaurant has to make sure to follow it, since that this process destroys the dangerous Anisakis parasites. Another important step to limit the proliferation of bacteria that can be very dangerous for our health is the extreme hygiene standards when handling the ingredients and, as we know, high hygiene standards are the bedrock of Japanese culture. While we can’t say the same about the asian imitation of this precise and methodical cuisine, for instance the “Chinese/Japanese” restaurants that we find in our cities, of course, are not famous for their hygiene standards. 

When sushi is made in the right way, our body can benefit from this delicious dish:

  1. Fish: it is not a secret that fish is rich in nutritional benefits for our body. It is rich in omega-3, high biological and phosphorus proteins; it helps to improve the function of blood vessels, it reduces the risk of depression, heart attack and other negative conditions. 
  2. Nori seaweed: it is mainly known thanks to sushi. It is rich in high vegetable protein content, vitamins, omega 3 and iodine. 
  3. Wasabi: some people love it, others hate it due to its spiciness. Nonetheless, wasabi has many important beneficial qualities. It is good for our skin, it reduces the levels of LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol) in our blood, it is an efficient antibacterial, and it also has properties that stimulate the immune response of our organism and its antitumor activities. 

Therefore, taking into consideration all its benefits and, especially, if it is made following their tradition, sushi can really be a healthy dish. 

From now on, we should all pay more attention and Itadakimasu! (いただきます!).