After Tapioca Comes Banana
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 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 smoothies 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-the-wall shop specializing in milky banana beverages, while other shops brought unique ingredients, such as the premium Miracle Banana, which 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.
Banana Smoothie Craze in Japan
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 that 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 apples and oranges 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 of Japan into your days, whipping up a batch of freshly made banana smoothies flavored with rich matcha is simple. Keep reading for our easy and absolutely delicious Matcha Banana Smoothie recipe.
Brain-boosting, Fat-burning, and Many More Benefits of Matcha Banana Smoothie
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:
Rich in Antioxidants
Matcha has a compound known as Catechin, a natural antioxidant that helps 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.
Improves Brain Functions
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 to 24.67 mg/g. To take the brain-boosting effect up a notch, Matcha also contains L-theanine, a compound that helps prevent energy crashes after consuming caffeine.
Green tea and weight loss go hand-in-hand and could be one of the reasons why Japanese people are so slim (only 3.6% of Japanese people have a BMI above 30, and only 24.7% have a BMI above 25). Matcha is proven to boost metabolism and increase energy expenditure during your workout session, which in turn will help you burn more calories. Matcha is also an excellent addition for those who are looking to maintain weight after losing it.
Wide Array of Nutrients
Not to be upstaged by Matcha, banana can also hold its own with its nutritional value. Bananas contain potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin C, fiber, and magnesium, among other minerals. Among these nutrients, a kind of fiber named Pectin is responsible for helping our body control our blood sugar level after a meal. These nutrients made bananas 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 bananas that our body converts into serotonin, a hormone in our body that regulates our mood and feelings of happiness. A low level of serotonin is linked to depression as well as anxiety, so keep your serotonin level up.
Improves Heart Health
This benefit can be linked to the potassium in bananas. Potassium is an electrolyte that helps our heart stay healthy as well as manage 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 hearts to stay healthy and happy.
Versatile and Tasty
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.
Let’s Make Matcha Banana Smoothie!
Making some Matcha Banana smoothies to kickstart your day is a simple affair. You will need these easy-to-get ingredients for 2 servings of this recipe:
- 1 ripe banana
- 5 ice cubes
- 1 glass of milk (you can use soy milk, almond milk, or coconut milk too!)
- 1 teaspoon Matcha powder
- Simply peel the banana and put it in a mixer with the ice cube.
- Add the milk and matcha powder to the mixer.
- Mix until everything is smooth, and pour into the glasses.
- Sit back, relax, and enjoy your Matcha Banana Smoothie!
A Scrumptious Trend from Japan with a Ton of Health Benefits
While the popularity of banana smoothies in Japan is based on both practical and health benefits, they also hold 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 complementing 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.