What is Matcha Tea?
What exactly is matcha?
So what is matcha tea? Just like green tea, matcha originates from the Camellia sinesis plant. Even though it comes from the same family, it is grown and harvested in a different way. Matcha is made by taking the tea leaves and transforming the leaves into a powdered form. The matcha powder is then whisked into hot water creating an earthy frothy drink.
Origins of matcha
It all started in the 12th century when a Japanese zen priest, Eisai, returned home with tea seeds and bushes after studying in China. Eisai took common chinese practices, drinking “beaten tea,” and created the well-known medituation ritual, The Way of Tea. The Way of Tea is a practice of how one meditatively prepares and presents matcha tea. Its spiritual practices are centered around a few principles: harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. Eisai shared his meditation ritual with fellow Japanese Buddhist monks and the ritual eventually spread all across Japan.
How is matcha made?
Matcha tea leaves are purposely grown on tea bushes that are kept under shade and away from sunlight. Keeping the tea bushes under shade boosts their levels of chlorophyll. This is what makes the leaves beautifully bright shades of green! After the tea leaves are harvested, they are laid out to dry and then finely milled into powder.
Types of matcha
Since matcha is grown all over different regions of Japan, each tea farm produces matcha powder in their own ways. However, there are two main types of matcha powder that are most common.
Ceremonial grade matcha is produced and harvested in the most delicate of ways. It is the highest quality of matcha. It’s given the utmost attention during processing to ensure that a smooth and fresh ground matcha is delivered. Ceremonial grade is best enjoyed with no additives or sweetners, the point is to enjoy and appreciate it’s earthy flavor.
Culinary grade matcha has a more bitter flavor and is slightly less sweet than ceremonial grade. It’s meant to be blended and used with other flavors and ingredients in recipes. Culinary grade may come from a variety of tea sources. Even though it contains bitter notes, it can still be whisked into hot water and enjoyed.
Benefits of matcha
Studies have shown that matcha contains three times as much epigallocatechin gallates (EGCG), the signature green tea antioxidant, than regular green tea. EGCG’s are ultracharged antioxidants that have been linked to improved brain function, increased bone strength, lowering blood pressure, and positive changes in cholesterol numbers. When one prepares a matcha tea, the entire tea leaf is consumed. This means that instead of relying on hot water to extract the antioxidants from the tea leaves, you’re enjoying the entire tea leaves that are far more potent.
Check it out!
Our sister company, Yum Matcha, offers ceremonial grade matcha in a variety of flavors. In fact, all of the photos of the tea fields were taken in Japan during a trip with the founders, Dr. Tuan Lam and Bill The Flavor Guy, of Yum Matcha. Make sure to check out the website for all of your matcha needs!
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