Matcha & the Quick Elixir

While the signs of spring begin in many parts of the 4 season world, in Calgary we are still enjoying the coziness of the winter sweater, toque, long underwear… you get my point.  Warm beverages are delightful, but we have been relying on them for months now.  We need some inspiration and a little change from the everyday. Calgary-winter

There is much buzz about elixirs this year - and with good reason.  Sometimes it is good that health food trends pass by quickly, as many of them are not all that they promise to be - not so for the elixir.  An elixir is a bit like a smoothie meets a latte. Packed with more nutrients than you should be able to fit into a cup, the elixir usually contains a variety of herbs, spices and components that we may not commonly get in our regular meals.  A bit like a whole food supplement that you drink, I guess.  They are a bit addictive as they fill you with a real satisfaction from their heartiness (you could eat this for breakfast or at that mid-afternoon lull time), they are so delicious and you definitely feel that you are doing something A+ for the body.

Today we are going to make a matcha elixir.


Traditionally prepared in a japanese tea ceremony with just hot water and a bamboo whisk, matcha is green tea where the whole tea leaf is ground and consumed.  It is not steeped and then removed like other common tea, but rather you eat the whole thing. A high quality matcha powder (use the best that you can afford if you are looking for the health benefits) is about 67% protein, 33% carbs and a good source of vitamin A and iron.  Known for it's ability to combat oxidization in the body through polyphenol activity, matcha may be able to reduce the chances of cardiovascular disease and some cancers.

Also found in matcha is theanine, an amino acid that can reduce anxiety without causing fatigue (for some it even gives a feeling of tranquility or clarity) , lower blood pressure and may play a role in increasing the treatment effects of cancer drugs and as a prevention tool against dementia and Alzheimer's disease.  There isn't a magic bullet health solution, but maybe exposing yourself to a variety of high quality substances that have the potential to effect how your body responds as cells divide and DNA is expressed, seems like a fairly straight forward thing to do with the potential for great benefits.

Many elixirs start with the boiling of a mixture of herbs and/or mushrooms (check out our Pumpkin Chaga latte post, here).  This is another great way to expose the body to intense doses of nutrients, but one of the beauties of this matcha elixir is the simplicity of it.  This one takes a couple of quick minutes and does not require any pre planning. If you like the process of getting more complicated, there are suggestions as you read on.

Back in the day, the only comment anyone ever made about milk was 2% or skim. That was the end of it.  Now we have milk made out of everything from soybeans to sunflower seeds and we have it on the shelf or in the fridge and we are all confused. Now don't get us wrong - the availability and variety of dairy free milk is fantastic for those looking for alternatives and the good work of our organic farmers producing non homogenized options is in our gratitude.  Many of us have made or heard of making our own nut/seed milks and the results are delicious (follow our how-to for hemp mylk, here).  However, this creamy, milky matcha elixir doesn't have milk in it. I'm sorry, what?!  That's right, no milk.  How do we do it?  Coconut butter.

Coconut butter is the whole coconut minus the water and the shell, all blended up into a paste or butter (think nut butter).  It has the coconut oil in there but also the fibre, protein, vitamins and minerals of the rest of the coconut. This differs from coconut oil which is pressed out of the flesh of the coconut.  So coconut butter has coconut oil in it, but coconut oil doesn't contain coconut butter.  Okay, read that last sentence again. Got it?  Look at the picture below.  The one on the left is coconut butter with the right being coconut oil.


Depending on how warm it was when your coconut butter was made, some of the oil may have risen to the top before everything solidified.  When you open your jar, you may see that the top has some coconut oil that has separated.  This is familiar if you buy natural peanut butter.  Because the coconut oil is so hard in our climate, you just need to run some hot water into a bowl and immerse the jar of coconut butter in it until it has softened.  Give it a stir and voila.

Coconut butter, when it melts into the hot water that goes into your elixir, emulsifies into a delicious rich milk.  This alternative contains only coconut without any binders, thickeners, anti-foaming agents, etc.  Coconut's health benefits have been widely expressed, so we won't go into them here.  Coconut butter and oil have different applications in recipes and health needs.  They are not in competition with each other, just different.

Matcha Elixir

1 tsp matcha powder (we used Two Hills superior grade)

3 tsp coconut butter (Artisana Organic Coconut Butter is superb and doesn't require any stirring)

1-2 tsp unpasteurized honey (we are looking to make a nutrient dense drink here so use the good stuff)

1 vanilla bean scraped, 1 tsp vanilla powder or a natural vanilla extract

a kettle with about 2 cups of water, boiled


Put everything in the blender but only add the hot water to the 1 cup measuring mark on your blender.  Remember that these are hot liquids which can splatter from pressure when blending.  Carefully blend on high for 30-60 seconds depending on the power of your blender.  Add  another 3/4-1cup of water and very carefully blend again for 15-30 seconds.  If your blender allows you to the add the rest of the water through a hole in the top of the lid, even better, then you don't have to get the blender going again and risk it.  Pour into two small mugs or one large and enjoy!

This recipe can be used as is, or you can use it as a base to expand the possibilities or even make a completely different flavour.  If you have a high powered blender, try adding a couple teaspoons of hemp hearts or a few raw cashews. They will just grind up and add to the milkiness and nutrition or you could start with a herbal decoction (boiling herbs, roots, stems to extract active ingredients from them) instead of adding just plain boiled water. To make a different elixir using the base above, follow these steps:

Hot Chocolate Elixir

instead of matcha powder use a high quality, raw cocao powder and use a TBSP

3 tsp coconut butter

2-3 tsp hemp hearts or raw cashews if you have that high power needed to grind them

you can change the nutrients/flavours by adding 1/8-full tsp of things like: maca, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne...

2-3 tsp unpasteurized honey - the cocao is quite bitter so you need a bit more honey

1 vanilla bean scraped, vanilla powder or a natural vanilla extract

a kettle with about 2 cups of water, boiled


Chai Elixir

Instead of the matcha and hot water, make a decoction out of things like crushed cardamom, cinnamon sticks, fennel, etc.  In a large pot filled with a few litres of water, add in some reishi mushroom slices, chaga and/or other mushrooms with the chai herbs.  Boil for at least 20 minutes but even for an hour or more.  If you want to add actual tea to the mix, throw in some black or yerba mate leaves for the last 10 minutes. Strain it all into jars and use some right away or store in the fridge for up to 3 days. You will have it ready to just boil the amount you need when you want to make your elixir.

3 tsp coconut butter

2-3 tsp hemp hearts or raw cashews if you have that high power needed to grind them

1-2 tsp unpasteurized honey

1 vanilla bean scraped, vanilla powder or a natural vanilla extract

2 cups of your decoction water, divided as described in the matcha elixir

As usual, you are the boss and can go anywhere with these elixirs, keeping them as simple or complex as you would like.  What about a take on a London fog or a hazelnut mocha?  Your tasty bevys don't need to be filled with unpronounceables or blood sugar disasters and the cost of those drinks for the quality of the ingredients is a bit 'o robbery.

On Saturday, March 3rd from 11-1pm, the Amaranth Blog will be going live! If you would like to meet our blogger, Amy Buckman, or see the matcha elixir made live (drink it too!), visit the Amaranth Whole Foods Market in Arbour Lake between 11-1pm.  

Recipe and post by Amy Buckman