What is Matcha?
Grown and produced in Japan, matcha is a powdered green tea derived from the camellia sinensis tea plant. Matcha is delicious taken on its own, and can also be added to lattes, smoothies, and baked goods. Matcha is experiencing a surge in popularity as more people become acquainted with this unique tea.
The History of Matcha
Although matcha is most commonly associated with Japan, powdered green tea was first produced in China during the Tang Dynasty. In the 12th century, Chinese monks brought both Buddhism and matcha to Japan. The ritualized use of matcha by Japanese monks grew quickly, and by the 15th century its popularity had spread to Japan’s upper classes. Today, matcha is primarily associated with Japan, and has a rich history and cultural significance within the country.
How Matcha is Made
To make matcha, tea leaves are grown in the shade during the final few weeks leading up to processing, which increases the chlorophyll content of the plants, and produces a darker tea leaf with a rich, slightly sweet flavor. When rolled and steamed in the process typical to green teas, this tea is known as gyokuro and is highly prized. When dried flat and ground into a fine powder, shaded green tea becomes matcha.
Matcha Health Benefits
Matcha is packed full of health benefits, making it a perfect fit for those looking to reap the health rewards of a concentrated green tea. The shaded growing period common to matcha produces a tea with higher caffeine and theanine levels, giving matcha its unique stimulating and relaxing properties. Caffeine energizes the body and helps stimulate mental clarity and focus, while theanine promotes relaxation and calm.
Matcha is also packed with antioxidants. Because when you drink matcha you’re consuming the entire tea leaf, matcha is especially high in cancer-fighting catechins when compared to other green teas. While studies concerning the properties of matcha are still ongoing, research suggests that matcha has a wealth of beneficial properties!
How to Prepare Matcha
In Japan, matcha is often prepared during a traditional tea ceremony. Matcha preparation is largely a matter of personal taste, so feel free to experiment and find the right ratio of matcha to water that works for you!
To prepare, sift one to two teaspoons of matcha through a fine sieve into a matcha bowl. Add two ounces of simmering water, being careful not to let the water reach a full boil. Briefly stir the contents, then use a bamboo whisk to whisk the matcha in a zigzag motion until it becomes frothy. Drink straight from your tea bowl, and savor the rich, uplifting taste of quality matcha!
Here at ArtfulTea, we carry several varieties of matcha. Our ceremonial grade matcha is perfect for drinking on its own when whisked with hot water. Culinary grade matcha, meanwhile, is great for adding to smoothies, lattes, and baked goods for a bright green color and sweet, savory green tea flavor. We even sell matcha to go, which comes in individual packets, and can be mixed into a glass or water bottle even when you’re on the run. Whether enjoying a traditional Japanese tea ceremony or adding matcha flavor to whatever dish you choose, we have the perfect tea for you!