What is Matcha?

December 2, 2022


Rich in umami with an alluring deep green hue, matcha has been captivating the hearts of many that stumble upon its charm. From coffee shops that serve matcha latte to all the matcha-flavored drinks and desserts you encounter at stores, matcha has been gaining popularity in recent years thanks to its extraordinary health benefits. Originally from China and popularized in Japan, this stone-ground green tea has been around for ages calming the minds and bodies of people.

  • Grown and produced with care, aromatic & fragrant matcha is full of umami."

Matcha with Wagashi and Fan

Japanese Tea Ceremony

Before tea steeping was introduced, the Chinese used to grind tea leaves into powder to drink whisked tea. Although this tradition was later replaced by tea steeping in China, in Japan, a Zen Buddhist by the name of Eisai had brought back matcha drinking to his community and it eventually gained popularity among the general public. In the 16th century, Sen no Rikyu revolutionized tea ceremonies by redesigning tea houses and focusing on simplicity and humbleness from what was turning into a show of wealth. His philosophy of introducing tranquility and calm to the mind through tea ceremonies is very much a part of Japanese culture to this day.

Matcha vs. Green Tea

All unfermented tea is considered green tea, but not all green tea can become matcha. Matcha is a specific type of green tea grown without direct sunlight (Tencha) that is then ground by a tea millstone. As soon as new tea buds appear around April, straw, screen, or fiber cloth is added to cover tea trees. The shade helps tea leaves from getting hit with direct sunlight, preventing L-Theanine from turning into catechin. Beyond providing tea with a savory umami flavor profile, L-Theanine is known to have health benefits such as improved sleep and alleviation of stress. Shade-grown tea leaves are prevented from being astringent, allowing for milder and stronger umami flavors. When the tea leaves are picked, they are steamed and dried without being kneaded for a fragrant and umami-filled taste. The tencha, the non-ground form of matcha, is then ground by a millstone to make matcha.

Covered Tea Farm

Preparing Matcha

There is so much attention and care that goes into the cultivation and production of matcha. Although many of us come across matcha in drinks (matcha latte, anyone?), ice cream, and desserts, the preparation and the true form of traditional matcha are profound experiences and depth. Take a look at how matcha is prepared below:
1. In a wide-mouthed Japanese tea cup, pour 2 tea spoons of matcha.
2. Pour about 1/3 cup of hot water (at 175F) into the tea cup.
3. Stabilizing the tea cup in place with your one hand, stir to incorporate the match and water with a bamboo whisk.
4. In a repeating motion, move the whisk back and forth until a creamy foam covers the surface of the matcha.
5. Smooth out the foam with the bamboo whisk, slowly remove the whisk from the tea cup, then serve.
Of course, the steps are much more complex in Japanese tea ceremonies where discipline, hospitality and humbleness are part of its philosophy, but these general steps will get you started on becoming a true matcha connoisseur.