Tapioca drinks have swept a vast number of countries with their steady hold on teenagers and young adults, and Japan is not an exception to this. With the sheer amount of tapioca (or boba in some places) joints that have been popping up across Japan, it’s not an understatement that this drink is the trendy choice to sip on as you walk through Shibuya, Harajuku, or even Dotonbori. But just like waves, trends come and go, and it begs for the question: what’s the next thing that’ll make waves in Japan?
A banana might be the one! This sweet, yellow fruit has been rising in popularity since 2017 both as a fruit to snack on the go and to include in beverages, with smoothie being one of the most common ways to prepare this fruit. Often simply called “Banana Juice” in Japan, this drink puts the quality of ingredients at the forefront by opting for simple ingredients available in everyone’s pantry. We’re talking about a combination of just bananas, milk, and flavorings, and sure enough, matcha is often mixed to create a decadent matcha banana smoothie among other classic mainstays, such as Anko (sweet red bean paste) and strawberry, all the way to the more peculiar ingredients to be mixed with a banana smoothie, including celery or parsley.
According to a poll on Petrel’s Instagram account that studies the latest trends, 41.3% of the participants picked banana juice as the next hip drink in Japan. This is interesting, because instead of picking “banana” in general, the participants specifically chose “banana juice”, showing a fondness for both the flavor and the method of preparation.
This trend has been going around in various prefectures across Japan, and you can find exciting banana juice specialty stores, each with its own flagship flavor or setting. In Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture lies a hole-in-a-wall shop specializing in milky banana beverages, while other shops brought unique ingredients, such as the premium Miracle Banana that has 1.5 times more nutrients compared to a regular banana, or even the peculiar banana with edible peel, the Mongee Banana from Okayama. But among these unique creations, the pairing of matcha and banana remains strong.
The rising popularity of banana-based smoothies in Japan is shown by the increasing amount of banana import and consumption, with the imported bananas amounting to nearly 1 million tons in 2017. Where do all these bananas go? They’re either consumed as is or turned into a wide variety of foods and beverages. The average consumption of bananas in Japan is a staggering 8.2 kg per person each year, and this fruit is so ubiquitous you can find a banana vending machine in Shibuya Station, one of the busiest train stations in Japan, or even the world.
Among the plethora of methods to prepare bananas, a smoothie is one of the go-to ways to make this sweet fruit even more practical and tastier. This could be attributed to the fact that it’s quick to prepare, filling, and packed with goodness for our body. For the busy people in Japan, this is a great way to kick start their days or to swiftly recharge between their schedules.
To make this milky treat, milk is of course a must. But with Japanese people being more and more health-conscious, you can find coconut milk, almond milk, soy-milk, or even yogurt taking the dairy spot in the mix. To bring the nutrition value up to 11, some banana smoothie specialty stores even pair the drink with other fruits and veggies, ranging from apple, orange, all the way to celery, cilantro, black sesame, and many more. Matcha, unsurprisingly, remains a mainstay in many banana smoothie experts’ menu selections.
If you’re looking to bring the health-forward lifestyle from Japan into your days, whipping up a batch of freshly made banana smoothie flavored with the rich matcha is simple. Keep reading for our easy and absolutely delicious Matcha Banana Smoothie recipe.
Matcha Banana Smoothie is more than a tasty beverage, it’s also a powerhouse of nutrients and packs a wide array of benefits for our health. Let’s get acquainted with some of the benefits that this creamy beverage holds:
Matcha has a compound known as Catechin, a natural antioxidant that helps to combat the damaging free radicals in our body. Since Matcha powder contains the whole tea leaves, you’ll enjoy the complete benefits of the green tea compared to merely steeping the leaves in hot water.
The long-standing benefit of drinking Matcha to maintain alertness is attributed to the high concentration of caffeine in Matcha compared to regular green tea. Each gram of Matcha powder contains about 35 mg of caffeine, while a gram of regular green tea leaves caffeine content ranges from 11.3 – 24.67 mg/g. To bring the brain-boosting effect up a notch, Matcha also contains L-theanine, a compound that helps to prevent energy crashes after consuming caffeine.
Green tea and weight loss go hand-in-hand and could be one of the factors why Japanese people are so slim (only 3.6% of Japanese people have BMI above 30, and merely 24.7% with BMI above 25). Matcha is proven to boost metabolism and increase energy expenditure during your workout session, which in turn will help you to burn calories more. Matcha is also an excellent addition for those who are looking to maintain weight after losing weight.
Not to be upstaged by Matcha, banana can also hold its own by its nutritional value. Banana contains potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, and magnesium among other minerals. Among these nutrients, a kind of fiber named Pectin is responsible for assisting our body to control our blood sugar level after a meal. These nutrients brought banana as the top fruit in Japan.
How can a banana improve our mood? Good question! This mood-boosting property is linked to tryptophan, an amino acid in banana that our body converts into serotonin, a hormone in our body that regulates our mood and feeling of happiness. A low level of serotonin is linked to depression as well as anxiety, so keep your serotonin level up.
This benefit can be linked to potassium in bananas. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps our heart to stay healthy as well as managing the balance of fluid levels in our body. Managing the fluid level is an important aspect that can affect our blood pressure level, so consuming bananas can be beneficial for our heart to stay healthy and happy.
Both Matcha and banana are very versatile ingredients that can be used for a wide range of dishes and drinks. You can simply add Matcha to your breakfast pancake batter and top it off with some banana slices, or go above and beyond by creating a Matcha pizza just like a Kyoto-based tea merchant with more than 180 years of expertise in tea. But, the simple, creamy, sweet, and rich Matcha Banana Smoothie is hard to beat.
Making some Matcha Banana Smoothie kickstart your day is a simple affair. You will need these easy-to-get ingredients for 2 servings of this recipe:
While the popularity of banana smoothies in Japan is based on both practical and health benefits, it also holds a very vast culinary potential. Thanks to the wide availability of this fruit, you can get a taste of Japanese food trends from the comfort of your home with ease. Whether you’re going for a straightforward milk-and-banana approach or to complement it with other ingredients of your choice, it’s going to be a memorable foodie experience that has been captivating the hearts of modern Japanese people.
If you have ever thought that Green Tea is an “acquired taste” or that it is “too bitter” to enjoy, we’re here to change your mind! We want everyone to experience the health benefits of Green Tea and show you that this can be an amazing, refreshing, and delicious drink when made correctly. With just a few tips on how to brew this powerful leaf we can change your mind about the taste and enjoyment of drinking Green Tea.
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