I remember the first time I tried a Starbucks green tea frappucino. I must have been 16 or 17. I was walking in the mall with my high school best friend, and we were people-watching. Observing a tattooed, punk manager arranging Simpsons t-shirts at Hot Topic; Children squawking and squeaking as their mothers chased them, weighed down by fat plastic bags full of shiny merchandise; Groups of teenage boys jostled and laughed; And pods of teenage girls flipped their hair, reapplying glitter lip gloss.
The Starbucks kiosk was right in the center of the mall. She bought that green tea drink, a plastic cup full of green froth with a jiggly cloud of whipped cream on top. “I love it! I get it all the time.” She said, before giving me a sip.
I gagged and coughed, handing it back to her. “How do you drink that? It tastes like grass! Sugar-covered grass!”
I wanted to spit, to wash out my mouth.
I was a bit of a drama queen back then (ahem, I still am).
She just laughed and took another big sip and grinned.
That too-sweet, too-grassy, too milky drink turned me off of any drink labeled matcha green tea for most of my adult life. I told myself: I’m a coffee gal, all the way. When I was a freshman in college I drank 4-5 cups a day (hello adrenal fatigue!). I quit coffee when I was a senior… for 6 whole months! But then I ended up working at a coffee shop to pay the bills. I couldn’t resist the free latte they let us have every shift.
Fast forward to 2017. I’m 27. Coffee is still my lover.
Insert: headaches and muscle pain from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD) caused by bruxism (teeth grinding at night).
I’ve read all the forums. I’ve been to bodyworkers (massage therapists, chiropractors). I’ve done lots of stretching, restorative and yin yoga, meditation and relaxation techniques. At best, I get some short-lived relief. At worst, I get no relief at all and I’m laid out on my couch with my eyes closed because of a pounding tension headache.
Just recently I went to a very hands-on functional medicine doctor who does gentle spinal adjustments and he said “well, much of the problem is structural but a lot of it is emotional too.”
I laughed, tearfully responding… “yeah that seems right.” I took a breath. “I’m an emotional being, I know that. Highly sensitive. I live completely in that world, very right brained, you know?” And he nodded, smiling warmly.
From that meeting I learned a couple of things. Number one: I’m magnesium deficient. Number two: I am holding a lot of emotions in my body because I’m not intentionally processing them. And the result is a degradation in wellness, manifested as TMJD and gallbladder malfunction.
OK I KNOW YOU DIDNT COME HERE TO READ MY MEDICAL CHART.
I’m telling you because I want to be forthright about my wellness journey. Wellness is not as simple as what you eat, or how much you exercise. We are emotional, spiritual creatures. And when we don’t work through traumas they become a part of us, lodged in our bodies and minds.
So, as part of my wellness journey I’ve resolved to do a couple of things: 1. take a magnesium supplement, 2. take a restorative or yin yoga class once a week, 3. journal every day, 4. replace my coffee habit with a green tea habit.
Why the switch to green tea? Well, almost every forum on bruxism/TMJD says reducing or eliminating coffee is a key to managing TMJD symptoms. Caffeine causes muscle tension. I want to reduce that.
I happened to have some super top grade matcha powder from Encha left over from a blogger retreat I went to last year. So I whipped up the first version of this dairy free matcha green tea latte. Coconut cream + raw honey + matcha + hot water. I threw it all in a blender and whizzed until frothy.
I took a sip. And then I smacked my head with my palm. It was SO GOOD. Creamy, mildly sweet, mellow. I couldn’t believe I had waited to drink matcha like this for years, simply because of that disgusting Starbucks drink!
It just goes to show you, food and aroma memories are deeply held. Positive memories, negative memories. They subconsciously color our daily food choices.
After getting over the initial caffeine withdrawal (since I’m more than halving my intake) I noticed I was feeling a lot more relaxed. Maybe that’s purely because I’m consuming less caffeine. Or maybe it’s thanks to the Theanine in good quality matcha green tea. Theanine is touted for its mind-clarifying powers, promoting alpha-frequency brain waves for a state of alert, focused calm. For me, I feel a zen, balanced sense of wakefulness when I drink 1-2 cups of my matcha latte. That alone has been a really wonderful and unintended side-effect of switching from coffee to matcha.
The matcha green tea latte recipe I have for you guys today has been refined over the last two weeks (I’ve made it every day). It’s my favorite version so-far. It’s coconut cream + cashew butter + raw honey + matcha + hot water + vanilla. The matcha flavor is subtle, but still apparent. Blending the tea with fats gives the drink a magical froth and creamy body.
If you’ve been wanting to try matcha green tea powder but you’ve been intimidated by drinking a straight matcha & water tea, this drink is perfect for you!
And in case you’re wondering, I do believe switching to matcha over the past two weeks has helped relieve some of my jaw/neck/muscle pain. Honestly, that surprised me! I had convinced myself it wouldn’t make a difference. I’m not anti-coffee, I’ll still drink it on occasion. But now I notice that when I drink 1 cup of coffee it causes immediate tension in my jaw muscles. SUCH. A. BUMMER.