Author: Anna

Baking with Matcha and Beyond.

Getting The Most From Matcha. Baking and Beyond.

We all know about the benefits of matcha green tea, but have you ever considered using it as an ingredient in your cooking and baking? The subtle sweet grassy tones of matcha add an interesting flavour dimension, and when you understand how well it pairs with other ingredients the creative possibilities are endless.

So, whether you simply want to bring a bit more interest to your morning matcha latte, or bake some impressive matcha makes, read on to find out what you can do with matcha. And what you maybe can’t.

Matcha Flavour Pairings

Matcha is a hugely versatile ingredient that plays well with a variety of complementary tastes.

Sweet Vanilla

The creamy sweetness of vanilla is like a hug for matcha’s complex bitterness, softening its edge and adding a cosy warmth.

Rich Caramel

The deep, buttery notes of caramel melt into the earthy matcha, adding a rich, more complex sweetness.

White Chocolate

The creamy texture and sweet, milky flavour of white chocolate pair perfectly with matcha’s slightly bitter and earthy tones. Matcha loves anything creamy, and sweet.

Peppermint

Peppermint takes matcha in a different direction, bringing out the herbaceous quality of matcha, rather than rounding out bitterness. With a deft hand, you could balance both.

Toasty Nuts

Toasted nuts have their own element of bitterness, with a sweet creaminess that works alongside the bitterness of matcha. The toasted depth adds an extra layer of complexity.

Coconut

Coconut infuses a silky, exotic flavour that works in the same way as sweet and creamy flavours, yet with a different tropical dimension.

Bold Spices

Again, it is the sweet spices like cinnamon, cardamom, or nutmeg that work well with creamy milky flavours, that pair well with matcha. You could push the boundaries though. Keep it milky, yet experiment with black or pink pepper; even Szechuan.

What not to pair with matcha

While matcha is incredibly versatile and pairs well with a broad range of flavours, there are a few that might not make the perfect match.

Citrus fruits, for instance, can overly accentuate matcha’s bitterness, creating a sharp taste that overshadows its nuanced flavours. The same goes for most acidic flavours. The key here is to balance out the acidity, with something richer. The fruity flavour of raspberries, for instance, goes well with matcha, yet it requires a careful hand to balance out their acidity.

Dark chocolate or coffee, with their bitter tones, can sometimes accentuate the bitter notes of matcha too much. Again, the key here is to balance out the bitterness with something creamier.

Too much sugar can also drown out the distinctive taste of matcha, turning a sophisticated flavour profile into a one-note sweetness.

Experimenting is key, but these guidelines can help maintain the integrity of matcha’s unique taste.

Ideas for Matcha Makes

  1. Matcha Shortbread Cookies: Incorporate matcha powder into your shortbread before baking.
  2. Matcha Chia Seed Pudding: Mix 1/4 cup of chia seeds with 1 cup matcha-infused milk, let it sit overnight, and top with berries in the morning.
  3. Matcha Tiramisu: Indulge in a decadent but simple dessert by layering matcha-soaked ladyfingers with a whipped mixture of mascarpone cheese, sugar, and cream, then dusting the top with matcha powder as the finishing touch.
  4. Matcha Mousse: Create a light and airy matcha mousse by folding matcha powder into whipped cream. Sweeten with powdered sugar and layer with crumbled biscuits for an easy, elegant dessert.
  5. Matcha White Chocolate Latte: Turn your matcha latte into a decadent winter treat with melted white chocolate. Top with whipped cream and a light sprinkle of matcha powder for a truly indulgent drink.
  6. White Chocolate Matcha Truffles: Melted 450g white chocolate into 250ml heavy cream. Add a tablespoon of matcha powder and leave it to set. Roll the mixture into balls and dust with matcha powder. Or dip in tempered melted white chocolate and leave to set.
  7. Matcha White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies: Give the classic cookie a twist by adding a hint of matcha to the dough. The nuttiness of macadamia pairs well with the sweetness of white chocolate chips.
  8. Creamy Matcha Panna Cotta: Delight in the silky texture of panna cotta with a matcha twist. Simply infuse the cream with matcha powder before setting it with gelatin and chilling. Go one step further and turn it into a creme caramel instead.
  9. Quick Matcha Cupcakes: Upgrade a vanilla cupcake mix and blend in a bit of matcha powder for an easy matcha upgrade. Top with vanilla frosting and a dusting of matcha.

Explore our range of matcha and other teas. Want to more about matcha? Read our article on the different grades of matcha explained.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Matcha Tea importers”.
See original article:- Baking with Matcha and Beyond

The True Art of Fermented Tea

fermented tea

You may have heard that fermented tea is good for you and be wondering what it is all about. But there are some common misconceptions about which teas are actually fermented so we thought we would explore the subject in a little more detail.

What is Fermented Tea?

Fermented tea is a type of tea that undergoes a unique fermentation process after the leaves are harvested and dried. This fermentation process, which always involves microbial action, is what sets these teas apart and gives them their distinctive flavours and health benefits.

Contrary to popular belief, this process is more than just the oxidation that most teas undergo; it’s a true microbial fermentation that can last from a few days to several years.

The difference between true fermentation and oxidation

Some teas are mistakenly classified as fermented when in reality they are simply oxidised. Most black teas are oxidised as part of their transformation from fresh green to fragrant black. White teas and green teas are not oxidised, oolongs are partially oxidised, whilst black teas are fully oxidised.

Oxidation vs True Fermentation

The distinction between oxidation and true fermentation is a fundamental one in the world of tea. Oxidation is a natural process driven by the enzyme action that exposes the tea leaves to oxygen after they are plucked. This process transforms the green leaves into a darker hue, creating robust flavours typical of black and oolong teas.

In contrast, true fermentation involves the action of microorganisms and can extend over long periods, even years, altering the chemical composition of the tea. The end product is a uniquely flavoured, fermented tea, rich in probiotics and other compounds that contribute to its already considerable health benefits. The difference is significant: one is a short, enzymatic process changing colour and flavour, and the other is a long-term, microbial process offering a unique complexity of taste and health properties.

Popular Types of Fermented Tea

Some popular types of fermented teas include Kombucha, Pu-erh, and Jun Tea, each having its own unique taste, aroma, and health benefits. Of these, kombucha and jun are fermented drinks, whilst Pu-erh is in the form of dried tea. Let’s examine these in turn.

Kombucha Tea

Kombucha is a tangy and effervescent tea-based beverage that has been enjoyed for its unique taste and purported health benefits for thousands of years. Originally from East Asia, it is traditionally made by fermenting sweetened tea with a symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast, referred to as a “SCOBY”. The fermentation process takes about one to two weeks, resulting in a drink rich in beneficial probiotics, antioxidants, and organic acids. These compounds are believed to contribute to improved digestion, enhanced immune function, and overall well-being. Its flavour, often described as tart and sweet, can be customized with additional infusions of fruits, herbs, or spices, making kombucha not only healthful but also versatile and delicious.

Our organic kombucha is made with green tea

Jun Tea

Jun tea, often called the “Champagne of Kombucha,” is a delicate fermented tea drink from Tibet. It is brewed using green tea and honey instead of the black tea and sugar used in kombucha. The fermentation process, lasting approximately one week, results in a slightly sweet and tart drink, with subtle notes of honey and floral undertones brought out by the green tea. Like Kombucha, Jun tea is rich in probiotics and organic acids, and it’s believed to aid digestion, boost immunity, and promote overall wellness. Its unique and refreshing taste, combined with its health properties, has made Jun tea a popular choice among fermented tea enthusiasts.

Pu’erh Tea

Pu’erh Tea is a specialized form of fermented tea from China’s Yunnan province. It is unique in that it undergoes a process of microbial fermentation and oxidation after the leaves have been dried and rolled, which can last anywhere from a few months to several years. This ageing process imparts a distinctive earthy flavour to the tea, making it a truly unique beverage. Pu’erh comes in two varieties, raw (Sheng) and cooked (Shu), with the raw variety being lighter and the cooked variety having a richer, more robust flavour. Often enjoyed as a digestif, Pu’erh tea is celebrated for its potential health benefits, including aiding in weight loss, reducing cholesterol, and supporting heart health.

Unlike the first two examples, Pu’erh tea comes in a block, ready to be brewed as a hot drink. It is worth noting that whilst kombucha, and its cousin Jun, are brewed as drinks in a similar way to beer (for instance) neither are classed as containing alcohol.

Does kombucha ferment into alcohol?

The fermentation process of kombucha does result in a minor amount of alcohol, typically below 0.5%, which allows it to be classified as a non-alcoholic beverage in most countries. This trace amount of alcohol is a byproduct of the action of yeast on the sugar present in the tea. However, it’s worth noting that if kombucha is brewed improperly or left to ferment for an extended period, the alcohol content may rise. Nonetheless, under standard preparation and brewing conditions, the alcohol content in kombucha remains negligible and does not contribute to intoxication.

Is Fermented Tea Good for You?

Fermented teas are noted for their numerous health benefits. Here are some that are particularly noteworthy:

  • Digestive Health: The probiotics produced during fermentation can enhance gut health, assisting in digestion and nutrient absorption. Find out more about fermented foods and their role in gut health in our article.
  • Boosts Immunity: Fermented teas are rich in antioxidants that can bolster your immune system, helping to fend off common colds and infections.
  • Heart Health: Some studies suggest that consuming fermented teas may reduce LDL cholesterol levels, thereby promoting heart health.
  • Weight Management: Fermented teas like Pu-erh are often recommended for weight loss due to their potential to boost metabolism and fat burning.
  • Mental Well-being: Some components in fermented teas may help reduce stress and improve mood, contributing to better mental health.
  • Detoxification: Certain fermented teas, such as kombucha, are believed to help detoxify the body, removing harmful toxins and free radicals.
  • Bone Health: Regular consumption of fermented tea may help improve bone density, reducing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Remember, while these benefits are impressive, it’s always crucial to consume in moderation and consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have specific dietary restrictions or medical conditions.

Find out more about our raw organic sugar free kombucha.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Kombucha Tea Manufacturers”.
See original article:- The True Art of Fermented Tea

What’s The Difference Between Organic Matcha and Regular Matcha

organic matcha

Matcha green tea has become one of the most popular drinks in the world due to its many health benefits. However, not all matcha is created equal, and it all comes down to the way it is grown and produced. So, what’s the difference? This article will explore the differences between organic matcha and regular matcha and help you decide which type of matcha is right for you.

What is Matcha Green Tea?

First, let’s define what matcha tea is. Matcha is a type of powdered green tea that is rich in antioxidants and is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Organic matcha and regular matcha are both made of the same ingredients, but the difference lies in how they are grown and processed.

Regular matcha tea is grown with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that contain harmful chemicals that can affect your health. It is grown quickly to maximise yield, but the quality of the tea is compromised, resulting in higher levels of toxins and a more bitter taste. Regular matcha also often contains additives and preservatives to enhance its flavour and appearance.

Is Organic Matcha Better than Regular Matcha?

Organic matcha tea is grown without pesticides, herbicides, or other harmful chemicals. This means that the leaves are grown naturally and only fertilized with natural compounds like compost and manure. It is also processed differently, going through a simpler and more traditional process that avoids any additives.

Owing to these slower, more traditional, processes it also has a superior taste compared to regular matcha, with a sweet and delicate flavour that is smooth and creamy. Regular matcha, on the other hand, can have a more bitter taste and a grainy texture due to inferior processing methods.

The health benefits of organic matcha are numerous. It is rich in antioxidants, and is also a natural detoxifier, helping to flush out toxins from the body and improve overall health. Regular matcha, on the other hand, may contain more toxins that can be harmful to the body over time

What is organic matcha green tea good for?

Organic matcha green tea is packed with antioxidants, specifically catechins, which are known for their disease-fighting properties and can help reduce free radicals in the body. The high concentration of the antioxidant EGCG has been linked to heart health, a healthy metabolism, and anti-ageing effects.

Furthermore, it also contains the amino acid L-Theanine, which promotes relaxation and stress relief without inducing drowsiness. This blend of energy and calmness makes it a superior choice for mental clarity and focus.

Find out more about the benefits of green tea in both matcha and kombucha

Is it OK to drink matcha every day?

Yes, it is perfectly fine to drink matcha every day. In fact, doing so can provide a host of health benefits. However, as with all things, moderation is key so it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you have any concerns.

How do you know if matcha is organic?

To ascertain if your matcha is organic, first, look for certification labels on the packaging. In the United States, the USDA Organic label signifies that the product meets stringent organic farming standards. For products outside of the U.S., look for similar organic certification labels applicable to that region, such as the EU Organic Farming symbol for European products, or the Australian Certified Organic label in Australia.

Additionally, check the ingredient list for any additives or artificial flavour enhancers. True organic matcha should only contain one ingredient: green tea.

Lastly, consider the colour and taste. Organic matcha tea tends to have a vibrant green colour and a sweet, mild flavour compared to the bitter taste and dull colour of non-organic varieties.

Is organic matcha worth it?

Yes, it is absolutely worth it. While it might come with a slightly higher price tag, the health benefits, superior flavour, and peace of mind of knowing you’re consuming a cleaner product make it a worthwhile investment.

As we have seen, the difference between organic matcha and regular matcha lies in the way they are grown and processed, which can have an impact on their flavour. Organic matcha is grown and processed naturally, free from pesticides, herbicides, and harmful chemicals. It also has a sweeter and more delicate taste than regular matcha. Regular matcha, on the other hand, is often grown with harmful chemicals, which can result in a more bitter and grainy taste.

Therefore, organic matcha powder is the sensible choice as it may provide more health benefits and a superior taste. So, the next time you’re looking for matcha, be sure to choose organic japanese matcha for your daily dose of antioxidants and superior taste.

Explore our range of organic matcha green tea powder


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Matcha Tea Importers”.
See original article:- What’s The Difference Between Organic Matcha and Regular Matcha

From Gut Health to Detox: The Benefits of Kombucha

benefits of kombucha

In case you missed the memo, the benefits of kombucha have been a talking point for quite a while now. From nurturing gut health with its probiotics to aiding the body’s natural detoxification process, it has emerged as a potent player in the world of functional beverages. In this article, we will look into the fascinating world of kombucha, its brewing process, and the various ways it can contribute to your health and wellness.

Where does Kombucha come from?

Kombucha originated around 2,000 years ago in Northeast China (formerly known as Manchuria). A fermented tea drink, it was highly valued for its detoxifying and energizing properties. It was then traded along the Silk Road and eventually found its way to Russia and Eastern Europe. Over time, it gained popularity in the West, and by the late 20th century, kombucha had firmly established itself as a globally loved health beverage.

Despite its seemingly recent surge in popularity, the roots of kombucha run deep, entwined with ancient cultures and age-old traditions of health and wellness.

How is Kombucha made?

Kombucha is made through a fermentation process that starts with a sweetened tea base. The magic happens when a Symbiotic Culture Of Bacteria and Yeast (SCOBY) is introduced to this sugary tea mix. This SCOBY, often referred to as the “mother” or “mushroom,” begins to feed on the sugar, initiating the fermentation process. Over a period of about 1-3 weeks, the brew is transformed into a fizzy, slightly sour, and refreshing beverage packed with probiotics, enzymes, and beneficial acids.

The specific flavour profile of kombucha can vary greatly based on factors such as the type of tea used, the duration of fermentation, and any additional flavourings added post-fermentation, such as fruits or herbs.

The Health Benefits of Kombucha

Thanks to its unique brewing process, kombucha is not just any ordinary tea. Kombucha health benefits have been celebrated for centuries and it is often touted for its ability to support a range of wellness goals – from boosting gut health to promoting detoxification and heart health.

Gut health and kombucha

Perhaps the best-known benefit of kombucha is its role in promoting a healthy gut. But why is it so good for our digestive health?

The role of probiotics in gut health

Probiotics, often referred to as “good bacteria,” play a vital role in maintaining gut health. Our gut is home to trillions of microorganisms, including various bacteria types, collectively known as the gut microbiome. When this microbiota is balanced, it aids digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune function. Probiotics contribute to this balance by inhibiting harmful bacteria’s growth, boosting the immune system, and helping to maintain the gut’s protective barrier. They can also produce substances like short-chain fatty acids, which provide nourishment for the gut lining.

How kombucha nurtures digestive health

Kombucha directly nurtures gut health through its rich composition of probiotics and acids produced during the fermentation process. These probiotics, along with acetic, gluconic, and lactic acids, can help restore the balance of the gut microbiota. The probiotics in kombucha, specifically Saccharomyces and Brettanomyces, are known to combat harmful bacteria in the gut, fostering an environment conducive to the growth of beneficial bacteria.

Additionally, the acids in kombucha can aid in maintaining an optimal pH level in the gut, further promoting digestive health by inhibiting the growth of undesirable bacteria and yeasts. Moreover, kombucha is believed to have a prebiotic effect, providing nourishment for beneficial gut bacteria and stimulating their growth.

By introducing and nourishing the beneficial bacteria in our gut, kombucha can play a vital role in maintaining and improving digestive health.

Kombucha as a detoxifying agent

Kombucha is also known as a powerful detoxifying agent, binding to the toxins present in the body and aiding in their expulsion, thus promoting a healthier liver and overall well-being.

Understanding detoxification

Detoxification is the biological process of eliminating toxins from the body. These toxins can be anything from harmful chemicals we intake through air, food, and water, to natural waste products produced by our bodily functions. The process involves several key organs, primarily the liver, which plays a central role in metabolizing substances to be removed. Toxins are processed for elimination and then excreted through channels such as sweat, urine, and faeces. The kidneys, lungs, and even skin also play crucial roles in this detoxification process.

Regular detoxification can support overall health, improving organ function, boosting energy levels, and supporting the immune system. Drinking kombucha, with its beneficial natural acids and antioxidants, is said to enhance this vital process.

The role of kombucha in the detoxification process

Kombucha plays a crucial role in the detoxification process due to its high content of glucuronic acid, a natural detoxifier. This acid binds to toxins entering the liver and converts them into soluble compounds that can be easily excreted through the kidneys.

By aiding in the efficient removal of harmful substances, kombucha helps to alleviate the burden on the liver and kidneys, resulting in enhanced overall health.

Other health benefits of kombucha

In addition to its detoxifying properties and its positive effects on digestive health, kombucha may offer plenty of other health benefits. The drink can be rich in B vitamins, known for their role in energy production and maintaining good brain health. Kombucha’s antioxidant content helps combat inflammation and protect the body from the harmful effects of free radicals.

The antioxidant power of kombucha is all down to the tea it is made from, as all the benefits of tea remain. You can find out more in our article about the benefits of green tea in kombucha.

Lastly, some studies suggest that kombucha may contribute to heart health by reducing levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol while increasing “good” HDL cholesterol. However, more research is needed in this area to fully understand the extent of kombucha’s health benefits.

Are there any downsides to kombucha?

Before we look at the downsides and potential side effects of kombucha, it is worth mentioning that not all kombucha is made equal. So it follows that the associated health benefits can vary widely from brand to brand, and even batch to batch. Always buy good quality kombucha and beware of high-sugar versions that may also contain artificial flavours and preservatives.

Our all-natural organic green tea kombucha is raw AND organic.

Like any food or drink, kombucha can also have potential side effects. While generally considered safe for most people, individuals with compromised immune systems or those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should exercise caution.

Kombucha is a fermented drink containing a small amount of alcohol and caffeine, which some people may need to avoid. It can also cause upset stomachs, infections, and allergic reactions in rare cases. Overconsumption may lead to acidosis, a condition characterized by excess acid in the body.

Always remember to consume kombucha in moderation and consult your healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

To recap, kombucha is a delicious drink with a unique flavour profile and a wealth of potential health benefits, that makes a refreshing alternative to sugary sodas. Just remember to prioritize quality, watch out for high-sugar versions, and most importantly, consume in moderation.

Have you tried our range of naturally flavoured raw organic kombucha tea?


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Kombucha Distributors”.
See original article:- From Gut Health to Detox: The Benefits of Kombucha

How Fermented Foods Help Promote a Healthy Gut

fermented foods

Among the various strategies to maintain a healthy gut, incorporating fermented foods into our diet stands out as a promising approach. Packed with beneficial probiotics, fermented foods are believed to play a critical role in promoting a balanced gut microbiome.

But how do they work their particular kind of magic on our digestive health? Read on as we explore the fascinating world of fermented foods, and their potential benefits for our gut microbiome.

Introduction to the Gut Microbiome

As we saw in our article on gut health, the gut microbiome is a complex community of microorganisms that lives in our digestive tract. These microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, and fungi. While some of these microorganisms can be harmful and lead to disease, the majority of them are actually beneficial.

These tiny microbes play a crucial role in our overall health and well-being. In fact, recent studies have shown that the gut microbiome is linked to everything from our immune system to our mental health. When the microbiome is out of balance, it can lead to a host of issues such as digestive problems, inflammation, and even weight gain. We can take care of our gut health by eating a balanced diet, staying hydrated, and avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. By doing so, we can help maintain a healthy and diverse microbiome to promote optimal health.

Fermented Foods and Gut Health

Fermented foods have been a part of our diet for centuries. Now known to be rich in probiotics, they can play a vital role in maintaining the balance of the gut microbiota. Eating these foods introduces a range of beneficial bacteria to the gut microbiota, which can help to improve digestion and boost the immune system. These are known as probiotics.

The process of fermentation

But how are these foods made? Unsurprisingly, it’s all about the process of fermentation, which is essentially the conversion of sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids by microorganisms, like bacteria or yeast. Fermentation has been used for centuries to preserve food and create unique flavours. You might be surprised by just how many of your favourite foods are actually fermented, such as cheese, sourdough bread, and even chocolate.

Are all fermented foods probiotic?

No, not all fermented foods contain probiotics. During the process of fermentation, microorganisms like bacteria and yeast convert sugars and carbohydrates into alcohol or organic acids. This process can lead to the creation of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics. However, not all fermented foods retain their probiotic benefits after fermentation. Factors such as processing, cooking, and pasteurisation can kill these beneficial bacteria. For example, both beer and wine are fermented yet do not contain probiotics because of the heating and filtering processes they undergo. So, while many fermented foods are rich in probiotics, not all of them are.

Types of fermented foods

  • Sauerkraut: A type of fermented cabbage, popular in German cuisine.
  • Kimchi: A traditional Korean dish made from fermented vegetables, mainly cabbage and radishes, with chili pepper and other spices.
  • Kefir: A fermented milk drink similar to yogurt, originated from Eastern Europe.
  • Miso: A fermented soybean paste used in Japanese cuisine.
  • Tempeh: An Indonesian product made from fermented soybeans.
  • Pickles: Cucumbers that are fermented in a solution of salt and water.
  • Kombucha: A fermented and sweetened tea, often flavoured with fruits or herbs.
  • Sourdough bread: Bread made by the fermentation of dough using naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeast.
  • Yogurt: A food produced by bacterial fermentation of milk.

Include fermented foods in your daily diet

Including fermented foods in your daily diet is an easy and delicious way to boost your gut health, and there are plenty of delicious options to choose from.

We recommend that you start small, as probiotic foods can be surprisingly powerful. Switch out your sugary soft drink for a cheeky kombucha. Or experiment with adding extra umami goodness to your cooking with a spoonful of our raw organic white miso.

Are you ready to start enjoying the benefits of fermented foods today? Explore our range of organic kombucha.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Kombucha Manufacturers”.
See original article:- How Fermented Foods Help Promote a Healthy Gut

Our Guide to Good Gut Health

guide to good gut health

Gut health plays a huge part in our overall health and wellbeing. Rather than a separate nutritional issue, it should underpin our entire approach to healthy eating.

Most of us are increasingly aware of the importance of the gut in both physical and mental wellbeing, and that it has something to do with ‘gut flora’, yet how many of us really understand what it is all about?

This article aims to explain a little of the science behind the whole gut health thing, in order to arrive at a better understanding of just how important it is to our everyday health, and the food choices we make.

What is Gut Health?

The foundation of gut health rests upon healthy eating and making food choices that better support our health. Stress, medication, and our increasingly unnatural diet, have played havoc with our health, our digestion, and our wellbeing. Which, as we know, are all intrinsically linked.

We have become so disassociated from the connection between food, health, and wellbeing, that many of us may not even be aware that things are not as good as they could be. Even those of us who do not suffer from digestive disturbances may never have experienced the difference that a truly healthy gut can make to the way we feel.

Gut health is about far more than simply reducing unpleasant symptoms, and it influences more of the bodies processes than we might realise. So maybe a better question would be; what is the gut?

What is the gut?

The gut is a collection of organs that belong with our digestive system, largely the stomach and the intestines. Yet, the gut is involved in far more than just digestion of the food we eat.

Did you know most of your immune system is housed within the gut, and that it is under the control of the gut microbiome? Not only does the gut flora act as a defence against invaders, it actively controls the behaviour of other immune cells.

Digestion itself plays a huge role in our overall health, in more ways than you may think. We have come to think of nutrition on a very reductionist basis which completely underestimates the complexity of the human body. The simple act of eating dictates every single bodily function, from the smallest chemical reaction to the largest muscle movement.

Let’s take a closer look at the role of the gut in digestion.

Our Digestive System

Our digestion is a complex system of mechanical and biological processes. In simple terms it is there to extract nutrients from the food we eat (and eliminate waste) in order to survive. As well as the mouth, the stomach, and the intestine, it involves other organs such as the liver, kidneys and the pancreas. All of it facilitated by an array of specialist cells, hormones, neurotransmitters, and enzymes. And an army of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and other assorted microbes.

Digestion begins in the mouth with the process of chewing, via the stomach where food is further broken down. Bacteria are present here in smaller numbers, playing an important protective role as part of the immune system, essentially acting as the guardians at the gate.

The role of the small intestine

From the stomach food enters the small intestine and this is where the microbial action really begins. It is here that most of our nutrients are extracted and absorbed.

The bacteria in the gut assist the digestive enzymes and provide vital protection to the intestinal barrier, making sure that nothing passes into the bloodstream that shouldn’t. They also play a role in keeping it all moving along nicely by supporting the muscular action of the gut wall.

If the small intestine cannot function as well as it should then the body will not be able to uptake all the nutrients it needs. Many of the symptoms of poor gut health show up here; however unconnected those symptoms may seem.

Once food has been processed by the small intestine, what’s left moves into the large intestine; the colon. And this is where the real magic of all those microbes begins.

The importance of the large intestine

The food that ends up here is the food that the small intestine cannot digest (like fibre, for instance). But whilst the small intestine takes all the credit for doing the bulk of the work, the large intestine is much, much,  more than merely a disposal chute.

The largest concentration of gut bacteria is found here in the colon. There are trillions of micro organisms in the large intestine and they are responsible for the final stage of digestion that happens here. They take the food that we cannot digest and turn it into many of the vital nutrients that our bodies need. These bacteria do not just breakdown the nutrients within our food, but they produce essential nutrients too.

The Gut Microbiome

The collective term for all these microbes that live in the gut is the gut microbiome. More than just a handful of bacteria that make your tummy happy, it acts as an organ in its own right, playing a part in digestion, hormonal control, the nervous system, and the immune system. It also plays a crucial role in weight management.

Gut Bacteria

Of the microbes that make up the gut microbiome, most of them (but not all) are bacteria. There are in fact more bacteria in the body than there are human cells, and they contribute to anywhere between 1kg and 3kg of our body weight.

The bacteria of the gut microbiome can be grouped into four dominant groups, and within these groups are thousands of different strains and types of bacteria, all with different requirements and doing different jobs. Of the four major groups, two are the most prolific, yet the overall number and their diversity differs from person to person. Not only does this depend on the biological conditions within the body, but it is also thought that we are genetically predisposed to a dominant type.

Whilst there isn’t really such a thing as good and bad bacteria, some are more beneficial than others. When the colonies of bacteria are out of balance, and the less beneficial bacteria are allowed to thrive, this can have a negative impact on our digestive (and overall) health and wellbeing.

How to Improve Gut Health

The aim of improving your gut health is to increase the diversity of the bacteria that make up the gut microbiome, and reset the balance in favour of the beneficial microbes. The best way to do this is to focus your diet around gut friendly foods. That not only means increasing your intake of those foods that support gut health, but also eliminating those that do not.

We will look in more detail at some of the things that can have an adverse affect on your gut health in another article, as well as explore certain foods that you may be best off avoiding; at least for a while.

For now, let’s look at some of the foods that are considered to be gut healthy.

Gut Healthy Foods

Try to eat as wide a range of whole, natural foods as you can. Diversity really is key here. Choose certified organic, and minimal intervention/pesticide free wherever possible. There are also two key topics here that need mentioning; probiotics and prebiotics.

Probiotics are foods that contain beneficial bacteria. By eating these foods on a regular basis, you can introduce these good bacteria into your own gut microbiome in order to increase diversity, and tip the balance in favour of the good guys.

You do however need to make sure that you are taking good care of the newly introduced bacteria so that they can survive and thrive. That’s where prebiotics come in.

Prebiotics are foods that contain the things that beneficial bacteria like to eat. Like soluble fibre, and resistant starch. These come mainly from the indigestible fibre found in the cell walls of certain plants. Raw garlic, onions and leeks are all excellent sources of prebiotics. As are underripe bananas. Sourdough bread, cooked and cooled white potatoes (yum, potato salad) are good sources of resistant starch. Uncooked oats and apples are also good sources, so you have a good excuse to break out the Bircher muesli.

Fermented foods are your go-to-source for all those probiotics that we talked about. Again, eat from as wide a range of these foods as you can. They each have different populations of varying types and strains of bacteria, so the more you can introduce into your own microbiome, the better.

Try our organic miso

Our organic kombucha is completely sugar-free

Try fermented vegetables such as naturally fermented pickles, kimchi, or if spicy is not your thing then maybe sauerkraut. Both is even better!

Live yoghurt, as well as unpasteurised dairy products, in particular goat or sheep cheese, are also excellent sources of probiotics. Yet another good reason not to eliminate entire food groups unless you have a compelling reason to do so.

Whilst not an actual source of beneficial bacteria, raw apple cider vinegar is thought to help balance gut bacteria and support gut health. You can use it as you would any other vinegar, or drink a small shot each morning.

Our naturally fermented raw apple cider vinegar is 100% certified organic

You will need to eat plenty of prebiotic foods to allow all those beneficial bacteria to thrive. Remember that the two go hand in hand. Not only do you need to introduce as many different strains of good bacteria into your gut, but you need to feed them with prebiotics in order to populate them!

 

We have plenty of foods to help support your gut health, but why not explore our full range of organic products first?


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Grocery Suppliers”.
See original article:- Our Guide to Good Gut Health

What is kombucha good for?

glasses of kombucha tea

It has all the health credentials of tea, plus the gut boosting benefits of probiotics, but exactly what is kombucha good for?

The healthiest kombucha is made with green tea, for a whole host of added benefits. In fact, although kombucha is best known for its probiotic benefits, it is the properties of green tea that make it particularly beneficial to health.

Kombucha is good for anti-ageing

The antioxidants in green tea have powerful anti ageing properties. As well as contributing to the maintenance of healthy youthful skin as seen below, it contains protective polyphenols of the type EGCG. This is a potent anti-inflammatory that may help protect against cognitive decline.

Kombucha and healthy skin

Alongside the anti-inflammatory EGCG, green tea contains several compounds that directly support skin health. Quercetin and kaempferol (also anti-inflammatory antioxidants) help to soothe sensitive skin. The green pigment chlorophyll helps to flush out harmful toxins that can contribute to tired looking skin.

Kombucha is good for the brain

L-theanine, a component of tea (not just green) has been shown to have anti-anxiety properties and can also aid relaxation. Caffeine, especially in conjunction with l-theanine, can help improve brain function too, for a clearer, sharper mind.

And then of course there is the power of fermented foods and those little guys known as probiotics. Otherwise known as beneficial bacteria, these provide healthy bacteria for your gut.

There are many different strains of bacteria that can act as probiotics within the body, but the ones we are most interested in when in comes to kombucha are the lactic-acid bacteria it is shown to contain.

Kombucha for gut health

But what does good gut health look like? We are only just scratching the surface of the role the gut plays in our overall health and, over time, restoring your gut microbiome can be totally transformative. Yet there are two major benefits that people report from improving their gut flora.

Kombucha for energy

The first is improved energy. When your gut begins to function as it should you are likely to feel simply more energised. If you were suffering from a lack of energy or motivation then it is like a fog has been lifted.

Kombucha is good for your digestion

Many of us suffer from digestive issues. For some, it causes discomfort and even embarrassment. For others it may not even be noticeable because things have always been that way. A healthy digestion is a different beast entirely. And once things begin to function as they should, many other benefits follow.

Find out what kombucha and matcha have in common

Our organic kombucha is available to buy online now. Made with green tea, it has all those antioxidant benefits we talked about.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Kombucha Manufacturers”.
See original article:- What is kombucha good for?

What is Matcha Powder?

what-is-matcha

Matcha, with its bright green colour and sweet herbal flavour, is widely used as an ingredient beyond just tea. But what is matcha powder, exactly?

What is matcha powder?

Matcha is a traditional ceremonial tea from Japan. Made with green tea which is ground into a fine powder, it is as unique as the famous regions in which it is grown. Harvested several times over the course of a single growing season, it comes in a variety of different grades, all suited for different purposes.

How is matcha powder made?

The tea used to make matcha is always grown in the shade. With a season that begins in spring, and ends in late autumn, the highest grade powder comes from the first harvest or first flush. As the young shoots develop, the plants are kept under shade. This reduces the rate of photosynthesis, concentrating the chlorophyll that gives matcha its bright green colour.

These first leaves grow slowly over the colder months, allowing time for flavour to develop. Lower grade leaves harvested later in the season grow more quickly in the warmer weather and are less flavourful.

The young tender leaves of the first flush are carefully chosen and picked by hand. They are then steamed immediately after harvest to keep the vibrant green colour of the chlorophyll. Unlike green tea, which after steaming is rolled and left to dry, the green leaves for matcha are quickly air dried in a machine.

Once dry, the stems and veins of the leaves are carefully removed, leaving only the tender green leaf for the final product. This is then stoneground, in a granite stone mill. The aim is to create as little friction (and therefore heat) as possible. In this way, all of the delicate flavour is retained.

The different grades of matcha powder

Ceremonial grade matcha powder is the highest grade there is. This is used for the Japanese tea ceremony and is purely for whisking in water.

The best ceremonial grade matcha powder is first flush, and will be labelled as such. It should be rich, aromatic, and sweet, and not at all bitter or astringent. It can come under a variety of names; ours is labelled as supreme matcha.

Second flush tea can also be ceremonial grade but the flavour will be slightly less delicate than the first flush. It is still good for whisking with water, but will also work well in your matcha latte. We label ours as imperial grade matcha.

Culinary grade matcha powder is made from the third, or even the fourth, flush. The tea may not have been harvested by hand, and it is likely to be more coarsely ground than ceremonial grade. It is not inferior, just blended to stand up to other ingredients. It is more bitter and astringent than the higher grades, and possibly less green, but is ideal in baking or cooking where the subtle nuances might be lost.

Find out why matcha has more nutrients than green tea.

 

Discover our range of quality matcha powder at great value prices.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Matcha Distributors”.
See original article:- What is matcha powder?

The benefits of green tea in matcha and kombucha

green tea

Matcha and kombucha both spring from the same source, and that is tea. Matcha is always made from green tea, whilst kombucha can be made from black or green tea, and they each retain the benefits of the tea from which they are made. PepTea products all begin with green tea, so read on to find out more about the unique benefits of this powerful plant.

What is green tea?

Green tea is a type  of tea that is processed from the leaves of the tea plant (camellia sinensis). Its growing popularity is due to not only its nutritional content, but also its subtly sweet grassy flavours.

Where does green tea come from?

Although tea originates from China, and is native to East Asia with its tropical and subtropical climates, it is now grown in many parts of the world.

Of the native teas, China still produces most of the world’s green tea. In Japan, green tea is the only tea produced commercially. Although modern mass production methods are responsible for most of it, there are many high quality teas produced by traditional methods. Japanese green tea is produced by gentle steaming, rather than the more aggressive pan-firing method, and this results in the sweet grassy flavours that it is known for. The world’s most well known black teas, such as Assam and Darjeeling, come from India.

Are green tea and black tea the same?

Both black and green tea come from the same species of plant; the tea plant camellia sinensis. Most of the tea we drink comes from two varieties of tea plant; var.sinensis and var.assamica. Assam, for instance, comes from the variety var.assamica. Darjeeling, on the other hand, comes from var.sinensis. Green tea can be produced from either variety. Each variety also has hundreds of different cultivars, from which all of the world’s teas are produced. This simply means that although they come from what is essentially the same plant, each variety and cultivar will have slight genetic differences that can result in vastly different teas. Just like fine wine, or great cheese, tea is a product of its environment. The soil, the climate, the plant type, the growing methods, and the processing, are all revealed in the final product.

The major difference between them lies in the processing. All tea begins as the freshly picked green leaves of the tea plant. There are generally three harvests of tea leaves known as a flush. The best tea is said to come from only the tips and first few leaves of the first flush which is in spring. Green and black tea both come from these young and tender green leaves.

Black tea is the product of oxidation. The leaves are left to wither and ferment, changing the colour from green to brown, and then black. The deep earthy flavour of black tea is the result of this process. The leaves for green tea are exposed to heat as soon as they are picked. This process stops the oxidation process, resulting in the green colour and fresh herbal flavours of green tea.

Does green tea have caffeine?

In general, black tea is considered to have more caffeine than green, which in turn is lower in caffeine than coffee. But that is not the whole story; as we have seen, tea comes in many many different forms, so there is no such thing as a ‘standard’.

Caffeine in tea is the plant’s natural defence against insects. Some sources suggest that leaves picked in the summer, when insect activity is at its highest, naturally contain higher levels of caffeine. Other factors affect the caffeine content of the fresh leaves; varietal, leaf type, processing, and exposure to sun, all have a part to play. The brewing process also has a lot to do with the final amount of caffeine in the cup. The more leaves you use, the longer you steep the leaves, and the hotter the water, the more caffeine you will extract into your brew.

Japanese teas in general are thought to contain more caffeine due to the gentle steaming process. Shade-grown teas, such as those used in the production of matcha, have more caffeine than tea grown in full sun. When you drink matcha tea, you are consuming the whole leaf, so none of the caffeine is left behind. There is also another side to caffeine in tea, and that’s l-theanine.

L-theanine and caffeine

Tea, whether green or black, is as calming as it is energising. It offers the perfect pick-me-up, with none of the jitters or post-caffeine slump of coffee. This is due largely to the soothing effects of l-theanine. This compound, found in the tea plant, appears to work synergistically with caffeine, producing the unique feeling of wellbeing that comes with drinking tea. The shade-grown teas, as mentioned before, tend to have higher levels of l-theanine. Matcha in particular has high levels of l-theanine and caffeine, which together are responsible for its unique buzz.

How green tea is made

Green tea is grown, and processed, in a number of different ways that result in variable levels of nutrients and ultimately capture different nuances of flavour. Some are grown in full sunlight. These leaves are golden-green when plucked and have higher levels of catechins rather than theanine, which give the tea a more bitter flavour. Sencha tea, the most popular tea in Japan, is grown in full sunlight. Others are grown in the shade so that the rate of photosynthesis is reduced. This concentrates chlorophyll and increases level of l-theanine. These leaves are a deep green when plucked, and the resulting tea is sweet and mellow, with less bitter undertones.

The tea grown for matcha is grown in varying degrees of shade, depending on the grade of matcha produced. The more shade, the greener the leaf, and the higher the grade of matcha. The purest grade matcha is deep deep green, without a trace of bitterness. This article explains more about the different grades of matcha tea.

For all green tea, once plucked the leaves are steamed and dried, then kneaded before sorting. The kneading process breaks down the fibres so that maximum flavour and nutrients can be extracted during brewing.

Why is green tea bitter?

Not all green tea is bitter. As we explained in the previous section, it is grown either in the shade or in full sun. Shade-grown teas have higher levels of chlorophyll and theanine (and possibly caffeine) but teas grown in the sun develop more catechins and less theanine. These catechins are responsible for the bitter, astringent, notes found in some teas.

The benefits of green tea

Green tea contains many plant compounds that have been shown to be beneficial to our health.

Protective antioxidants

Protective polyphenols are the major active compounds. Polyphenols form a huge group of compounds found in plants, most of them with antioxidant properties. There are thousands of different types of polyphenols and these can be categorised into four groups, of which the flavonoids make up the largest. Catechins are part of this group.

The most potent, and possibly well known, catechin in green tea is EGCG (epigallocatechin-3-gallate). It is thought that EGCG protects against the cell damage caused by free radicals and can help fight chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and certain cancers. Also a powerful anti-inflammatory, EGCG may help to slow the rate of cognitive decline.

It is also rich in other beneficial flavonoid compounds such as quercetin and kaempferol.

Anti-ageing chlorophyll

Chlorophyll has all of the benefits we associate with greens. It has powerful anti-ageing properties and a detoxifying effect that helps to flush harmful toxins from the body.

Mood boosting l-theanine

L-theanine has been shown to have anti-anxiety properties and can aid relaxation.

Brain boosting caffeine

Caffeine can help to improve overall brain function, helping us to feel more alert with improved mood and a better memory.

Why not check out our matcha tea and our kombucha, and start enjoying the benefits today.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Organic Kombucha Manufacturer”.
See original article:- The Benefits of Green Tea in Matcha and Kombucha

Japanese cotton cheesecake with matcha green tea

matcha green tea japanese cheesecake

A bit of a baking phenomenon and yet another hit from the ever popular arena of Japanese food, is the Japanese cotton cheesecake. AKA jiggly cake. And yes, it reminds us of a certain Pokemon too…

What is Japanese cheesecake?

Japanese cotton cheesecake is perhaps better known as Jiggly cake. If you have ever seen those YouTube videos of Japanese bakeries, then you will know why. If you haven’t, then we recommend a look as it is a phenomenon best described in motion.

This half sponge/half cheesecake hybrid is made with a mixture of egg yolks, butter, and cream cheese, folded through whipped egg whites and stabilised with cornstarch. At first glance the texture is more superlight sponge than cheesecake, but the eating proves otherwise with the sour flavour notes and oddly creamy texture.

Interestingly, it would seem that the term Jiggly cake describes two kinds of Japanese cakes. The first (and incidentally the star of THOSE videos) is actually a sponge cake known as castella. Said to have been taken to Japan by the Portuguese in the 16th century, castella is a speciality of Nagasaki that CONTAINS NO CHEESE.

The second, the one that does contain cheese and thereby deserves the title of cheesecake is a more recent invention.

Both versions do however jiggle admirably.

What does Japanese cheesecake taste like?

As much about texture as taste, Japanese souffle cheesecake melts in your mouth and is as light as a cloud. Somewhere between spongecake and souffle, it isn’t overly sweet or cloying but you do a get a pleasing lactic tang from the cream cheese.

Is Japanese cheesecake gluten-free?

You could experiment with just using cornflour to make your cheesecake gluten-free, but most recipes also incorporate a little wheat flour to help stabilise the mix.

How to make a Japanese cheesecake

The process is not difficult yet it should not be rushed. It is after all Japanese and relies on focus, precision and due care. It is a little fiddly but the actual bake is quite forgiving so it is difficult to overcook. Do not be disheartened if it shrinks a bit on cooling, especially the first few times.

Cream cheese and butter need to be at room temperature and spreadably soft so they are easy to blend. Egg whites are easier to whip when at room temperature, but the eggs themselves are easier to separate when cold.

You want a cream cheese that is creamy and soft, yet with a good old-fashioned tang.

Matcha green tea Japanese cheesecake recipe

Matcha green tea is the perfect flavouring for a cake like this, with its subtle herbal tones and slightly sour sweetness. Read about the different grades of matcha green tea.

You will need an 8 inch round cake tin.

225g cream cheese, really soft

60g butter, really soft

6 egg yolks

60g sugar

70g flour

3 tbsp cornstarch

2 tsp matcha powder

60ml milk

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

For the meringue

6 egg whites

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

60g sugar

Icing sugar – for dusting

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C.
  2. Grease and line your cake tin.
  3. In a mixing bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese until smooth.
  4. Beat in the egg yolks and the sugar.
  5. Beat in the flour, cornstarch, and matcha powder.
  6. Add the salt, milk, and vanilla.
  7. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar.
  8. Once they are fluffy, gradually whisk in the sugar until the mixture is smooth, glossy and forms soft peaks. This means that when you pull some of the mix up with a spoon it stands and keeps its shape, but the peaks bend softly at the top.
  9. Using a large metal spoon carefully fold the egg whites through the cream cheese mix until fully incorporated.
  10. Pour the batter into your prepared tin.
  11. Place the tin in a baking tray, and fill with cold water to reach a third of the way up the cake tin.
  12. Bake for 15 mins at 200C. Turn the oven down to 140C and bake for a further 30 minutes.
  13. Turn the oven off and leave for a further 30 minutes.
  14. The test for doneness is the same as a sponge cake. It will spring back when you press the top, and a skewer will come out clean. It is quite forgiving so rather over bake than under.
  15. After it has sat in the cooling oven for 30 minutes it will be cool enough to tip out onto your hand and then onto a plate.
  16. Leave to cool completely before dusting with icing sugar and slicing to serve.

Does Japanese cheesecake need to be refrigerated?

Japanese souffle cheesecake can be served whilst still warm from the oven, and will keep for an afternoon out on the kitchen counter at room temperature. After that you will need to keep it in the fridge where it will sit quite happily for up to 5 days. Do keep it covered though so it does not absorb all the flavours of the fridge.

Can you freeze Japanese cotton cheesecake?

You can freeze it too. Either in individual slices or as the whole thing. Wrap in cling film, and then in foil, and freeze for up to 3 months.

 

Don’t forget to stock up on organic matcha tea online and take advantage of our wholesale prices.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Bulk Suppliers of Organic Asian Groceries”.
See original article:- Japanese Cotton Cheesecake with Matcha Green Tea