Do you know what Matcha Green Tea is?
To know about Matcha, it is essential to know about how to matke ‘Sencha’ (cha means tea) which is the most common green tea in Japan.
After picking the young tea leaves, they are steamed to prevent oxidization. Then thery are pressed and left to dry. This process is repeated several times until finally they become Sencha. The reason why they are pressed is that by breaking up the structure of the tea leaves, the components of them are easily released when they are made into tea.
How about Matcha, then?
First of all, Matcha is defined as a stone-ground green tea powder which is made from Tencha. At present, machines are also regarded as an acceptable method of grinding Tencha to make Matcha.
What is Tencha, then?
Machine-picking for low grade Matcha. Hand-picking is used for high grade Matcha.
To make Tencha, young leaves are grown in the shade for about 20 days. Under these conditions, L-Theanie (the source of flavour), which is made at the roots then carried up to the leaves and stored there, is prevented from transforming into Catechin (the source of bitterness and harshness). Furthermore, this method makes tea leaves produce more chlorophyll, resulting in deep green-colored tea leaves. These tea leaves are picked, steamed, then dried in a special drying oven called a ‘Tencha oven’ without any process of pressing the tea leaves. Then they undergo the final process to become Tencha.
Authentic Matcha must be made from Tencha only.
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The method of making Matcha was developed in Japan after the introduction of green tea powder into Japan from China. The most distinguishing feature of Japanese Matcha is the use of a Tencha oven. This oven was invented in Japan and is called a Horii-type Tencha oven. All Tencha ovens in Japan are said to be of the Horii type.
a picture from Tokyo green tea cooperative
Another important thing is the varieties of tea breeds for Matcha. Farmers and Japan agricultural research organizations have been studying to make superior tea breeds for Matcha. Some of them are ‘Asahi’, ‘Samidori’, ‘Ujihikari’.
Low grade matcha use 'Yabukita' that is used mainly for Sencha. If you have already tried Matcha and think that the taste of matcha is disgusting, you might have bought very low grade matcha, even if it says 'ceremonial grade'.
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What is culinary / cooking grade Matcha?
There is no definition for culinary / cooking grade Matcha. Conscientious tea companies are using low grade Tencha, which is not suitable for drinking, to make culinary grade Matcha by either stone mill or machine. Therefore, the price of the tea is much cheaper than authentic Matcha. In Japan it is said that only one third of Matcha (including culinary / cooking grade Matcha) is made from Tencha.
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The history of Matcha dates back about 800 years. Matcha was originally used as medicine for people who wished for perpetual youth and longevity. The only thing that is accurate about the health benefits of Matcha is that even though it does offer many healthy benefits, it does not offset poor life habits like smoking, eating too many sweets, drinking alcohol to excess, too little physical exercise, etc. From its long history, we may infer that Matcha can contribute much to your good heath only when you realized the importance of your health.
--- Man is what he eats ---
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There is not large amount of organic Matcha produced in Japan. The reason for this is that chemical fertiliser-free, organic tea leaves tend to lack a variety of nutrients especially nitrogen (the source of L-Theanie), which results in a bitter tasting final product. As a result, bitter organic Matcha are sold at a relatively low prices.
It is possible to find very delicious organically produced Matcha which are grown using special organic fertilisers, but due to the hugely increased manpower necessary to produce these, their prices are higher than normal Matcha.
When you drink Matcha, you ingest the whole tea leaf in its powdered form. As such, it is understandable that health conscious customers would find organically produced Matcha more appealing and Yes, it’s healthier than non-organic matcha!
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Chances are you have been hearing a lot about matcha lately and chances are you are wondering just what makes this green tea different from the other green teas out there. Out of the variety of green teas available, matcha green tea is continuing to increase in popularity. Matcha is a powdered green tea that is known for all of its amazing health benefits. It is said that one cup of matcha equals 10 cups of green tea when it comes to antioxidant content. So if you’re looking for something healthy to drink, matcha is the way to go. However, there are more things about matcha than just its health benefits that make it stand out from the rest.
Here are a few differences that should be noted:
The tea leaves, that come from the Camellia Sinensis plant, are shade grown before harvesting and then processed as a green tea - removing stems and veins. Matcha is not a green tea bag or loose leaf. After harvesting, the tea leaves are stone ground to create a fine powder that is whisked into warm water to make a delicious cup of tea.
Unlike other green teas, when you are drinking matcha you are actually consuming the entire leaf, which explains why it is higher in antioxidants than the others. As mentioned above, matcha is a finely ground powder green tea, so the way you prepare is unique. It’s not something you just steep in a teapot and pour out. Instead, you dissolve the matcha in warm water completely to enjoy, using a bamboo or even electric whisk. You don’t have to worry about discarding your leaves afterwards because, remember, you are fully ingesting the matcha.
The colour of matcha green tea is vastly different from other green teas when prepared. If it is a great quality of matcha, it will be a vibrant green opposed to a greenish-yellow or light brown liquid when steeping other green teas.
You can’t forget about the taste! Of course all green teas taste different, but matcha has a unique taste that major matcha lovers go crazy for! When prepared traditionally, you can notice a smooth, creamy and delicious cup of green tea. A common word to also use when describing matcha green tea is umami.
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Matcha shopping can be intimidating, especially if it’s done online and you can not sample the tea beforehand. With many different qualities of matcha out there, how can one actually tell what they are buying is authentic? Aroma, Feel and Taste are all important things to look at for matcha, but again, this can be difficult to do when you are shopping online. For myself, I look for 6 key characteristics that usually helps me decide if this is the right matcha for me before I confirm an online order. I hope this list helps you in your matcha shopping adventures, too!
1. The Colour
This is the most common talked about matcha feature. When looking for matcha green tea, your first clue at if it is a higher grade is the green colour. You may find some matcha that is brown and dull but the best matcha will be a luscious, vibrant green. The brighter, the better! Companies should have pictures of the packaging and inside contents on their website. If they don’t, that may not be a great sign.
2. The Origin
While matcha can be sourced from various countries, Japan is the top matcha producing country. If you were to ever compare matcha from Japan to matcha from China you could notice the difference almost instantly. That’s why the second clue I look for when shopping for matcha online is where it is sourced. Anywhere in Japan is usually a safe bet, but more specifically Uji, Kyoto, Japan.
3. The Price
This isn’t the easiest way to tell if matcha is high quality because sometimes companies can overprice bad quality matcha, but there are many cases when I see 80-100grams of matcha being sold for $20-$30. Sounds too good to be true, right? Yup! If you find something like that it is most likely a lower grade of matcha that people can use as an ingredient for baking or cooking, not as hot tea. I’m not saying you have to pay a high price for a high matcha grade though. You can typically find 30-40 grams of ceremonial grade matcha for around $30-$40 (including shipping cost) and that’s a fair price.
4. The Ingredients
This might be a step that can be overlooked when shopping for matcha online. How can there be ingredients in matcha except for, well, matcha green tea? I’ve learned the hard way when I started drinking matcha that companies can actually add filler ingredients to the matcha to offset the price for themselves. High quality matcha should be nothing but 100% pure matcha green tea. No sugar. No artificial or natural flavours. No additives. Ever.
5. The Reviews
I’m more likely to try a matcha brand if I have heard good things about it from a fellow matcha drinker. Reviews are great for getting an idea of some of the things you may not be able to experience when shopping online (ie. aroma and taste). Some companies can manipulate the colour of the matcha they’re selling by photoshopping the images on their website. Some companies can actually lie about where it is source or, truthfully, they may not even know. That’s why it’s also best to start with online matcha companies that already have positive feedback.
6. The Owner
Lastly, if you don’t know too much about the matcha you’re looking at purchasing online because the website doesn’t have enough information, don’t be afraid to reach out to the company and ask questions prior to so they can fill in the gaps. . If the owner of the company is familiar with Japanese Green Tea, there should be no reason for he/she to give you answers.
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Japanese matcha is becoming increasingly popular worldwide as more and more people become aware of the tea’s unique taste, colour and potentially amazing health benefits.
Without stepping foot in the tea’s homeland, one can easily look up all sorts of information about matcha on the Internet. The problem is that the majority of this information is provided by groups trying to sell matcha teas; websites like these rarely explain the most important points for first time buyers trying to get to grips with the world of matcha.
Here, we want to lay out the basic facts about Japanese matcha for those considering buying matcha tea.
Firstly, matcha is priced in a rather unique way in Japan. Each tea produced is given a price based on quality (colour, taste, scent and so on), but there are no scientific standards used to determine these features. Rather, it is a very human process based solely on the five senses of the tea experts at each production company.This means that two different products from two different companies might have the same price but look and taste noticeably different.
To give a brief explanation, higher grade matcha teas will have a very bright, vivid colour, and contain no notes of bitterness or harshness. In contrast, lower grade matcha teas are much less vividly coloured (often appearing more yellow than green) and their flavour contains stronger bitter notes. (However, note that this bitterness complements sweet cooking perfectly, and for that reason, lower grade matcha is used when making matcha food products.)
Further, there is not a large amount of organic matcha produced in Japan. This is an important point. The reason for this is that fertiliser-free, organic matcha leaves tend to lack a variety of nutrients, which results in a bitter tasting final product. As a result, bitter organic matcha teas are sold at relatively low prices in Japan.
It is possible to find very delicious organically produced matcha teas which are grown using special organic fertilisers, but due to the hugely increased manpower necessary to produce these, their prices are much higher than normal matcha teas.
When you drink matcha, you ingest the whole tea leaf in its powdered form. As such, it is understandable that health conscious customers would find organically produced matcha more appealing. Customers must just be aware of the dangers of buying organic matcha outside Japan, as in many cases a tea that would fetch a low price in Japan is sold at a much higher price abroad as a ‘ceremonial organic matcha’. In Japan we don’t normally use organic matcha for the tea ceremony.
So, how should you pick a good matcha tea? In Japan, we tend to trust the tea brand. There are several famous, long-standing matcha production companies in Japan which take the upmost pride in their teas. As the world of matcha is highly competitive, they cannot afford to market poor quality products, as their customers would simply switch to another brand. Even amongst the teas of these famous brands, each product has subtle differences; it is best to try out a variety of brands and find the tea which suits you best.
Unfortunately most of the matcha sold outside Japan has been rebranded by secondary sellers and so it can often be unclear which Japanese company produced the tea. In order for demand to grow for better quality matcha outside Japan, tea drinkers need to inform themselves about matcha and become able to judge the value of the products they try for themselves.
Our aim is, at the very least, for as many people as possible to find a tea they love: a tea that matches their tastes and lifestyle.
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Matcha is everywhere you look! But, how much do you know about the green tea powder that is so popular today? Here are some fun facts about matcha green tea. See how many you know about already! Leave a comment below if you learned something new.
Matcha that is produced in Japan is what you'll want to look for to get the best quality available. However, did you know that matcha actually originated in China during the Song Dynasty? It was then brought to Japan where its popularity continues to this day.
Matcha is made by grinding tencha leaves into powder. The leaves are strictly shade grown prior to harvesting. The leaves are then dried and the veins and stems are then remove before producing the fine powder. Authentic matcha can only be made with tencha leaves. Any other tea leaves used are a lower quality of “matcha” that is typically used for culinary purposes.
Matcha is an antioxidant powerhouse because when drinking it you are consuming the entire tea leaves, therefore getting the most from the tea and health benefits it offers. Matcha even contains more antioxidants than blueberries, orange juice, and spinach. If you love your green tea bag, you might want to try this green tea powder instead! It is said that one cup of matcha can be equivalent to 10-15 cups of regular green tea.
Matcha does contain caffeine and more than some other teas, but you can't compare it to the caffeine in coffee. This is because matcha also contains an amino acid known as L-theanine which helps increase focus and produces a calm effect opposed to caffeine jitters. That’s why many who look to reduce their coffee intake will try matcha instead.
Matcha can be prepared two different ways -- Koicha and Usucha. The main difference when preparing is the water to tea ratio. To make Koicha you will need more matcha, and less water. This is thick matcha. To make Usucha, you need less matcha and more water. This is thin matcha and what is more commonly served in North America.
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Chawan : Matcha tea bowl
Chasen : Tea whisk (bamboo whisk)
Chashaku : Tea spoon
Natsume : Small tea caddy
Chakin : Tea napkin
Bon : Tray