What is Matcha Green Tea?
There’s been a massive rise in popularity for Matcha Green Tea. It seems like everywhere you turn these days, there’s always someone pushing a matcha beverage. But what is matcha? In this blog we will be explaining what matcha is and why you should be drinking matcha green tea.
What is Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha is finely ground green tea powder made from the highest quality Japanese tea leaves. It is traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies, but has now found its way into other food including latte, brownies and even bubble tea.
Matcha starts off from the tea plant, Camellia sinensis. Around April, when new shoots sprout, the plants are shaded with tarps to allow only 20% of light exposure. This makes the leaves more potent by forcing it to produce more chlorophyll whilst maintaining high levels of L-Theanine. L-Theanine is an amino acid that is responsible for the full-bodied flavour and also for matcha’s calming effect. After 3 weeks, the youngest tea leaves are plucked from the plants. The leaves are steamed for 15-20 seconds to stop fermentation and to preserves the green colour. The next stage is to dry the leaves in a chamber with circulating air. Once dried, the stem and veins are separated leaving the part that’s called Tencha. A stone mill is then used to ground the leaves into fine powder and then the matcha is ready for brewing.
Different Matcha Grades
There are three general matcha grades, ceremonial grade, standard grade and cooking grade. Ceremonial grade is the highest grade of Matcha and is used for Japanese tea ceremonies. Ceremonial grade is shaded for at least 15 days, properly de-veined and stone ground at low temperature. The lowest grade is cooking grade, which is used for ice cream, baking and bubble tea. As discussed above, there are many different stages of the processing of matcha. If shortcuts are taken to speed up the process or if there are lack of attention to detail, lower grade matcha is produced. For examples, the leaves are not shaded fully for 20 days or lack of attention to de-veining. Grinding process that is rushed will not produce micro-fine powder.
How To Look For The Best Matcha
To look for the best ceremonial grade matcha, you can tell a lot about the quality by looking at the colour. Generally, the darker the green the higher the quality. Storage is also important. Some matcha green tea are stored in glass jar which will let light in. Make sure you are purchasing matcha that is stored in an air tight tin container. Matcha will age very quick so it is important to consume the matcha within the year that it was purchased.
One final point is that when buying matcha, make sure you ask the tea supplier if the tea leaves are radiation tested. Which the crisis that happened in Fukishima, you want to make sure the matcha is rational free. We would also suggest purchasing organic matcha to avoid consuming and potential fertilisers or pesticides.