matcha, matcha kari,

Uprise? How about Matcha and Chill

Most, if not all of us have been caught in the caffeinated, jangling tidal wave of a strong coffee. There's a lot to be said about that type of energy. In fact, that rush has given the coffee bean a surprisingly colorful history, one that we'll see also helps to give matcha some context.

Coffee as proponent of social unrest

There’s no denying, great things can be said of most any substance which peels away at social order, history just wouldn't be the same without them. You might first think of psychedelics; hippies in the 1960s living off the grid both as a lifestyle and a statement against society. And yes, while there’s certainly other examples, you might not think about coffee: a substance with a deep history, limited not to the distinct forging of social uprising and movements of change.

In a time between 17th and 18th century, England, coffee houses were pivotal in sober-minded political discussions, a place where the bourgeoisie candidly spoke on politics, public opinions, and the grit of daily life. Intriguingly, there is even scholastic debate which points to coffee houses’ key role in spreading the Age of Enlightenment. Historians may not absolutely prove this, but the correlation stands enough reason to suggest coffee as an unhinging force, capable of destabilizing government, philosophical, and even religious institutions. Maybe not so surprising then, coffee has been banned more than once historically; governments who feared whatever encouragement it may bring to opposing parties a great example being that of 16th century Mecca.

So how might history frame matcha?

Matcha diverged as a uniquely Japanese practice after green tea was originally brought to Japan by Zen Buddhism. From that point, its popularity began to dramatically grow, as too, its dedicated school of agricultural practices and social significance. Within a relatively short period of time, matcha's natural qualities established a powerful niche in Japan’s culture, including influences in their daily practices, monastic life, and military traditions. More specifically, its calming and energizing effects richly accentuated Buddhist meditation, Samurai tactics-training, and Japan’s agricultural ingenuity. In essence, matcha came to gradually unify the collective potential of the Japanese.

What’s more, is that political authorities such as the Daimyō, began recruiting tea masters to help them explore the prestige of matcha. With emphasis from its use with monks and samurai, matcha became officially ritualized through the development of what is now known as Japanese tea ceremony, or chanoyu (茶の湯). So, while its story may have begun with its use in those institutions of government, monastics, and military, matcha soon succumbed to total incorporation in the lifestyle of every Japanese class and citizen.

Differences in effect: Matcha vs. Coffee

If you've had matcha before, you’re aware how unlike it is from coffee or other caffeinated beverages. It differs most by encouraging a blissful, sentient calmness, one which empowers will, and emboldens intent. These effects naturally complemented the historical implications of tea ceremony in Japan, providing an edge in grounding Japan’s development as a first-world country, an aid to its well-formed social atmosphere, identity, and sense of community. In contrast, coffee’s relationship with the social arena, in many ways, is metaphorical to coffee's energetic relation to oneself: one cup of coffee has the potential to frazzle our emotions, our sense of balance, our impulsivity. These are effects that we (and society in whole) may not always need.

The clearer choice?

At this root level, the metaphor of social influence is typified by these physiological impacts. As such, if you need a burst of energy to uprise, rebel, and change the direction you’re headed, a bit of coffee is sure to help! On the contrary, if you're looking to capitalize on newfound stability, take the path of least resistance, or to find greater semblance of peace right where you are then it sounds like matcha is the better bet. It’s not that any substance is inherently bad, or evil, it’s just that there is a time and place for different effects. 

One worthwhile note, an additional benefit of matcha is its ‘L-Theanine’ content. Our First Harvest Matcha represents a great balance between L-Theanine and Caffeine, and clinical reports suggest that this amino-acid may help in memory and learning, in the reduction of anxiety and depression, and as a synergizer against any possible side-effects from caffeine both naturally occurring in matcha green tea. Thus, not only does a bowl of matcha promote concentration and clarity of mind, it does so without any of the nervous energy found in coffee. Maybe that helps explain some of those key historical differences. . .