As you may have noticed, we previously prepared an article explaining what is Matcha Tea in this article. But growing demand on powder teas almost forced us to share more knowledge about Matcha. So meet our ultimate matcha tea guide.
Matcha Tea is it just another type of Japanese green tea?
Matcha is a specially manufactured tea that is ground into a very fine powder. Matcha Tea originate from China as well as Japan. A mystique has grown around this tea with the famous Tea Ceremony being central to the Japanese way of life. Matcha and Matcha type teas are becoming more popular with new variants of the product coming to market. This is an introduction to the world of Matcha.
Where is Matcha Tea Grown
Though historical homeland for matcha is China, if you need 100% authentic Matcha tea, make sure you get it from Japan (ideally from Nishio or Kagoshima regions). Of course, Matcha Tea can be produced from teas that are grown all around the world. Spicy notes in Indian Matcha, astringent taste of African matcha and delicate fragrance of South American tea are definitely worth being tested by true tea lovers.
Types of Matcha. Matcha Teas are produced in six different grades. Differing farming and processing methods result in a variety of productions from the most expensive and prized Ceremonial grades down to the more economical day to day varieties.
Uniquely the very best Matcha Teas are grown in shade conditions under netting at certain times during the growing season, which increases the production of L-Theanine. This amino acid helps to give the better Matcha's a much smoother and sweeter taste. This Tea is known as Gyokuru in Japan and is used to either produce Green Tea or Matcha. The picking of the tea leaves is very important. The first two leaves and a bud of the new seasons growth are used to produce ceremonial teas and the lower dark coloured more mature leaves go into the production of the lower qualities.
The grinding of traditional Matcha Teas is done using stone, preferably Granite. A process not to be rushed as that can affect the final outcome. Grinding the tea leaves too quickly will result in an inferior product. Ceremonial Matcha's are fine ground by hand with the lesser grades being ground by machinery. Once the tea has been ground the colour of the higher grades is a very vibrant bright green whereas lower grades have a duller colour.
Leaf grades. Depending on which part of the tea plant the leaves are picked from, the resulting matcha powder will be one of the following grades: ceremonial, premium and ingredient (also known as kitchen grade).
- It is considered that ceremonial grade tea matcha powder can be tasted in Japan only due to its dearness and rarity, only top-three leaves are worthy to be used for matcha tea ceremony for the best experience. A very vibrant green colour, pure taste with subtle sweet notes.
- Leaves from the middle of the stem are called premium grade. They still have a very fine texture and sweet taste, but at a lower price, which makes it perfect option for everyday consumption.
- Kitchen grade leaves are made from lower parts of the stem. Perfectly fits any culinary practices. This grade of Matcha will be ground by machinery and will be slightly coarser.
Also tencha (the name for matcha tea leaves before grinding) is divided into grades from the finest top leaves to the more developed lower leaves. The freshest top leaves (two leaves and a bud) give a deeper taste for matcha as they contain more chlorophyll, but some tea lovers still enjoy the much milder taste of the more developed lower leaves.
Treatment before processing. Keeping in mind that the Camelia Sinensis plant for a certain stage should be grown in shadow for Matcha production. Some tea producers prefer growing them indoors totally, which, on the one hand, allows for better soil control, but on the other hand makes the plant contain less chlorophyll. So when you buy ceremonial or premium grade Matcha you should expect that the tencha was grown outdoors covered by bamboo mats or tarp.
Matcha Grind types. Premium and ceremonial Matcha tea powder is ground only using stone (usually granite) mills to provide achieve the finest grind which results in the clearest taste. Stone grinding is a manual process which makes it really expensive thus appropriate for higher grades only. For kitchen grades usually machine grinding is used as a much faster and cheaper option.
Tea leaves oxidation. Generic rules for all tea types about leaf oxidation apply to Matcha tencha leaf as well. Matcha leaves shouldn’t be oxidized as this will give a hay-like smell to the tea and spoil its amazing brilliant color.
Matcha Tea used for Ceremony
The Japanese Matcha ceremony itself is more of a spiritual experience, rather than just the preparation of Tea.
The aim of the matcha tea ceremony is to find ones spiritual balance, cleansing the body and the mind. The Guest to the tea ceremony and the host will clean their hands and mouths before ceremony takes place, as well as all ceremony accessories and the whole machiai (ceremonial room) should be cleaned and dust-free.
Inviting his guests to a ceremony the host will welcome each guest with a bow one by one according either to their social status or personal relations. You will be instructed about the order in advance.
Matcha is brewed in a relatively small amount of water in a group bowl, where the host stirs the substance with a bamboo whisk until the bright green liquor is ready.
For the Traditional preparation of Matcha the following accessories are required:
- Sieves are used to get rid of clumps of the fine powder. For ceremonial purposes you can find authentic sieves, but usual stainless steel sieves would also do perfectly.
- Wooden spatula helps you force the matcha powder through sieves with ease.
- Sieved matcha then carried to a ceremony in a special caddy called a chaki.
- Chawan is a tea ceremony bowl, which in several cases may be made of wood or stone.
- Chashaku (bamboo scoop) helps measuring exact amount of Matcha into the bowl.
- Being diluted with water Matcha powder then being whisked by a traditional bamboo whisk until you receive perfect brilliant colour and a tender froth.
Matcha Brewing Guide
For both home and ceremonial use there are two main ways of preparing matcha: thick (koicha) and thin (usucha). So here are some essentials on how to make matcha tea:
Matcha Tea Health Benefits
In general, almost every organic green tea has health benefits, but Matcha powder is a real power house when it comes to supporting your health. Because you are ingesting all of the tea leaf. It has much greater benefits than just drinking the liquor of normal green teas where the brewed leaf is discarded. These are some of the medicinal benefits:
- High levels of EGCG antioxidants which helps boosts metabolism (increasing energy expenditure) and helps burning calories and increasing thermogenesis in your body.
- Matcha is rich in theophylline. Theophylline is a very specific member of xanthine family. Unlike another member of this family, caffeine, theophylline has a rather prolonged effect on your body and mind, keeping you full of energy for about 6 hours!
- Another important ingredient is L-theanine, which has a calming influence on your mind and body, improving focusing and learning abilities and moreover putting you in a good mood.
- The High volume of antioxidants in Matcha makes it a perfect organic support to various chronic diseases. Matcha detoxifies effectively and naturally.
- Among the benefits of Matcha green tea we should also mention that the combination of vitamin C and L-theanine improves immunity to seasonal diseases such as influenza.
- Matcha tea improves cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Matcha also reduces minor blood pressure fluctuations.
Please keep in mind, that disease healing is managed by your doctor, but a nice bowl of Matcha would be a perfect support, maybe have a bowl of Matcha with your doctor!
Matcha and weight loss
As mentioned the combination of EGCG antioxidant metabolic influences on the body and the theophylline energy boost this makes Matcha tea very effective with weight loss programs. Indeed, leading dietitians agree that replacing your morning cup of coffee and lunchtime tea with two or three bowls of Matcha a day may show a positive fat burning effect just after 3 weeks.
For the best effect combine Matcha drinking with a cardio vascular fitness exercises regime. Drink a bowl of Matcha about one hour before exercising.
Finally, don’t forget, that though Matcha is really a super tea, it will never have effect in combination with doughnuts, chocolates and other sweets.
Finally, Matcha is not only used as a drink. The lower quality grades of Matcha are used widely to make products like Lattes, Smoothies, Power Drinks, Sauces and Desserts and much more. Japanese and Chinese food culture is rich on different tea recipes, here are just a few most popular Matcha products:
- Matcha green tea latte – Different and Colourful! perfect alternative to your morning cup of coffee
- Iced matcha Drinks, is sweeter than a regular frappe!
- Matcha smoothies! Why not try a Matcha and Cucumber Smoothie.
- Traditional Matcha confectionery – traditionally low in calories
- Matcha noodles have perfect smooth taste notes
- Matcha yogurt is a light and tasty breakfast option
- Matcha butter brings new vision on classic toasts - Green Toast!