Matcha is a powdered form of green tea from Japan. Unlike whole leaf teas, which are steeped in hot water and then the leaves removed, matcha is whisked or blended into water, and then the water is consumed, leaves and all. This means that the person drinking matcha gets much more of the beneficial antioxidants and nutrients in the tea, because they are drinking the entire leaf.
Matcha offers numerous benefits over both coffee and traditional whole-leaf teas.
Powdered tea first appeared about 1,000 years ago in China, but it was in Japan that it was refined into what we know today as matcha. In Japan, matcha was prized by both samurai warriors and Buddhist monks for its calming and focusing effects. Until recent years, enjoyment of matcha has been limited to special occasions and the highest ranks of society because of how costly it is to produce.
Matcha is made from green tea plans in Japan that are shaded for between two weeks to a month before harvest. When they are shaded, the plants draw high levels of chlorophyll and amino acids into their leaves in a struggle to absorb as much sunlight as they can. Next, the leaves at the tips of the tea bush stems are harvested. These leaves have the sweetest, most mild flavor. Lower quality matchas use leaves from later harvests which are collected from further down the stem and are more astringent.
These leaves are dried, and then carefully ground by a stone grinder into a fine, delicate powder. In ancient times, the leaves were ground in small quantities by hand. Today, large stone tea grinders run continuously to produce the matcha. However, the grinding process still runs very slowly, because any heat can diminish the flavor of the tea. It takes hours to produce just a few servings of matcha.
Once the leaves have been made into powder, a master tea blender samples matchas from different plants (and sometimes different locations or harvests) and finds the perfect ratio of cultivar and provenance to bring out the desired flavors in the matcha.
In the case of our matcha blends, we are grateful to have found a tea producer who grinds and blends our matcha in small batches specifically for us, so that we can deliver the freshest possible tea to you. We use tea made from a variety of cultivars grown on a single organic tea farm.
Not all powdered tea sold as "matcha" truly is. Authentic matcha comes only from Japan. Powdered green tea from China is almost always a poor substitute. In addition to frequently being contaminated with lead and pesticides, Chinese tea producers bypass the painstaking and time-consuming process of shading, grinding and blending employed by Japanese artisans, which also reduces the nutritional value of the tea. In addition to this, Chinese producers are subject to less stringent certification and testing, and sometimes add fillers to their product.
Chinese powdered tea labeled as "matcha" is everywhere. But that powdered tea from China might not be such a good deal after all.
We are proud to share our extraordinary organic matcha with you - carefully grown and ground in Japan without pesticides or additives, as it has been for hundreds of years.
To prepare usucha, or traditional thin tea, the typical ratio recommended by tea ceremony schools is 2 grams of matcha to 60-80ml of water, depending on the school. A weight measure is used as matcha is a powder and measuring by weight is more accurate than by volume, which can vary depending on how packed the matcha is.
We enjoy and recommend a simple ratio of 1/2 teaspoon of matcha to 3 oz of water. This yields a slightly larger serving of tea than the traditional Japanese recipe. It is also easier to whisk.