Grown and produced in Japan, Matcha is a powdered green tea derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant. To make Matcha tea, the leaves are grown in the shade during the final few weeks leading up to processing. After the leaves are harvested, all veins and stems are removed before the leaves are stone-ground into a green powder.
The shade growing of Matcha increases chlorophyll and produces a darker tea leaf with higher caffeine levels and more amino acids, particularly theanine. As theanine is a relaxing amino acid, the combination of theanine and caffeine is known to produce a state of both mental alertness and calmness. Matcha green tea has a subtle but deep, slightly sweet flavor dominated by its amino acids. It is highly rich in antioxidants and other nutrients.
Though it has endured as a product of Japan, the earliest preparations of Matcha tea were developed in China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907). When the monk Eisai brought Buddhism to Japan in the 12th century, he also brought the Chinese method for preparing Matcha green tea. The ritualized use of matcha by Japanese monks grew quickly, and by the 15th century its popularity had spread to Japan’s upper classes. As Japan honed its methods for producing Matcha, in China its popularity declined; today, Matcha Tea is known primarily as a legacy of Japan.
In Japanese, “Cha” means tea and “ma” means powder, so the word “matcha” is literally translated to powdered tea.
Preparation of a cup of Matcha tea is a little different than with loose leaf teas. To prepare, put one-half to one teaspoon of Matcha powder into a bowl. Then add two ounces of simmering water -- do not let the water reach a full boil. Briefly stir the contents, then vigorously whisk (using a regular wire whisk if fine, though many recommend a bamboo whisk) until the water becomes foamy. Enjoy your Matcha.