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Many tea lovers have turned their attention to the range of tea powders that have become increasingly available. Tea powder combines convenience with quality. Unlike dried tea leaves, tea powders are made of the leaves of green, white or black tea or of herbs that have been steamed, dried and ground finely enough that they will mix instantaneously with either hot or iced water or other liquid for a cup of tea. Tea powder is especially popular in Japan but has steadily spread into kitchens around the world. The different types of tea powder include variations of green teas, black teas and white teas.
These powders are not only convenient, they also allow home cooks to experiment with using teas to flavor dishes from soups to desserts. Green tea ice cream has become a favorite in mainstream ice cream parlors in Europe and North America. It also can be used to add a unique twist of flavor to cake batter, frosting, milk and many other consumables.
Worldly home cooks know that matcha tea powder has long been used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Blending different green teas has spawned hundreds of chamei, or special teas that are recognized as part of a culinary lineage. Unlike black tea, green and white teas do not undergo fermentation.
Those who don’t like the flavor of green or black tea might try white tea, which is more expensive. White tea comes from the same plant source, the Camellia sinensis plant, but is harvested when the leaves are tiny and the buds at a much earlier stage of development. This tea is more delicate and lacks either the deep tannin of a black tea or the grass-like notes of green tea. White tea also offers half the caffeine of black tea and a little less than its green cousin.
A great deal of research into the health benefits of all types of true tea has suggested that both the fermented and unfermented types of tea might provide some protection against certain cancers, enhance the immune system and increase metabolism for more rapid weight loss. Some proponents also claim that these types of tea can be used to help control diabetes, lower cholesterol and even offer those who suffer from depression some relief. This gives tea lovers and home cooks lots of reason to want to get a good daily dose, and powdering the tea makes it that much easier.
Green tea has not only infiltrated Western taste buds, it has turned up in all sorts of cosmetics and personal cleansing products. Green tea powder can be mixed into beaten egg whites or mayonnaise for a homemade facial masque or hair conditioner. Adding green tea powder to bath powder creates a fragrant bath.