What is matcha?
Matcha is a special kind of powdered green tea, traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony. Matcha is unique among other types of green tea in both appearance and taste. It has a vibrant, beautiful green color, a subtle aroma, and a rich umami taste.
What is the difference between thin (usucha) matcha tea and thick (koicha) matcha tea?
Thick tea is prepared with three times the amount of powder as the much more popular thin tea. Thick tea is really thick — with the consistency of a heavy syrup — and is mostly used in formal tea ceremonies not as an everyday beverage.
Why is matcha more costly compared to other green teas?
The price of matcha reflects the labor involved in producing it. In Japan, high-quality matcha is a luxury item, always expensive, but there are many grades of matcha that vary in price as well as quality. Food grade, or ingredient, matcha is used to make green tea ice cream and other sweets, smoothies, and green tea noodles (cha soba); it is relatively inexpensive. The most expensive high-grade matcha is drunk in the tea ceremony.
How is matcha graded?
Matcha is graded by color, aroma, and flavor. The lowest are food-grade products used to make green tea soba noodles, green tea ice cream, cookies, cakes, and other foods, mostly sweets. Above them are many grades of thin tea (usucha) for whisking in the usual way. Mid-level thin tea products are often excellent, both colorful and flavorful. Higher grades are more costly, brighter green, richer in aroma and flavor, and less bitter. The very best matcha, called ceremonial grade, is the most costly with the best color, very aromatic, and deeply flavored with a perfect balance of bitter and sweet tastes. Within this category, too, are various subgrades. The highest can be prepared as thick tea (koicha) that uses a much higher ratio of tea to water and is mostly used in the meal accompanying a formal tea ceremony.
What grade of matcha is right for me?
Our premium grades of matcha teas are available in different varieties ranging from superior grade to culinary grade. Whether you’re a seasoned matcha drinker or you’re a beginner, we’ve carefully curated our matcha so that we have a grade that’s perfect for any person and any occasion.
Our Master’s Blend is our highest-quality thick (koicha) tea, full of a rich, bold body without a hint of bitterness. This exquisite tea is a little more expensive than our other teas as it’s made in small batches using the best fresh young tea leaves. If you truly want to experience one of the best matcha teas available, then this product will not disappoint you.
Our Ceremonial Grade is a tea for matcha lovers who want to enjoy the bold flavor every day. This high-quality matcha is a beautiful emerald green with a smooth, grassy, umami flavor.
Our Morning Ritual blend is a tea for matcha lovers who want to enjoy matcha’s bold flavor every day. Its smooth, grassy, umami flavor makes it a perfect addition to your morning ritual. Combining the unique amino acid L-theanine, which works to stimulate and relax the mind, with a natural caffeine boost, a cup of matcha in the morning will give you the steady concentration needed to get through until lunchtime.
What accessories do you use with matcha?
If you try to use Western utensils to prepare matcha, it probably won’t turn out well. We strongly advise you obtain and use traditional Japanese matcha utensils; they will enrich your matcha experience and increase your chances of making the perfect bowl of matcha.
How do you prepare matcha?
- Heat water in a kettle until steam first appears; this will be well below boiling, about 180°F. Turn off heat.
- Pour about ½ cup of the hot water into a matcha bowl to warm it. Dip the tea whisk into the hot water to soften it. Then discard the water and dry the inside of the bowl.
- Use a tea scoop to measure 3 scoops (about 1 teaspoon) of sifted matcha powder into the warmed bowl.
- Add about ¼ cup (2 ounces) of hot water.
- Use the tea whisk to mix the matcha tea into the water. Begin with slow, back-and-forth strokes, then agitate the mixture to a froth with quick strokes.
- Rinse the scoop and whisk.
- Sip and enjoy.
Why does my matcha taste bitter?
If your matcha tastes bitter, it may be an inferior grade of tea. Also, the water might be too hot, you may have used too much matcha, or you did not whisk it properly. If there are breaks in the froth that reveal the liquid underneath or big bubbles on the surface, the flavor profile will not be as good as it should be.
Why doesn’t my matcha froth well?
This could be due to not whisking the matcha thoroughly, but more often than not, it is due to not using enough matcha tea powder for the amount of hot water.
Why do I have clumps when drinking my matcha?
This is due to not sifting the matcha before preparation. If you sift the matcha (by rubbing a quantity through a fine sieve), this will not happen.
Will the water temperature affect my matcha taste?
Water temperature is very important. If the water is too hot, it will alter the umami taste of matcha. The optimal temperature in winter is 167-185°F and in the summer 158-176°F.
How much matcha is in a single serving?
Approximately 1 teaspoon (3 scoops using an authentic matcha scoop).
How much caffeine does matcha have in it?
Depending on grade of matcha, one bowl of matcha contains 80-120 mg of caffeine.
How long will matcha tea last?
Unopened matcha tins will keep in a freezer for up to a year. Opened tins will keep in a freezer for up to three months without significant loss of quality. In a tightly closed container at room temperature, sifted matcha should be used within a week.
Because matcha powder has a huge surface area, it deteriorates quickly through oxidation, especially in the presence of light, heat, and humidity. Oxidized matcha is yellow- or brownish-green, loses its prized aroma and flavor, and becomes bitter.
How do you properly store matcha tea?
Store the matcha tins in a freezer. Both unopened and opened matcha should be stored in the freezer. If planning to use within a week, opened matcha may be stored in a tightly closed container at room temperature.
How does matcha compare on the antioxidant ORAC value scale?
Oxygen radical absorbance capacity (ORAC) is a method of measuring antioxidant capabilities. The ORAC value of matcha tea is one of the highest in the super-food realm, at about 1348 units per gram (or serving). Matcha tea is 10 times more potent than a typical cup of brewed green tea.
What is the L-theanine in matcha?
L-theanine, a major phytonutrient in matcha, is an amino acid known for its positive effects on the mind. L-theanine supports the activity of alpha brainwaves, responsible for a cool, calm, and collected feeling. It increases serotonin, dopamine, and GABA levels in various regions of the brain and so reduces mental and physical stress, improves cognitive performance, and boosts mood. L-theanine works synergistically with caffeine.
How is matcha harvested?
Tea farmers prepare for harvest 20-30 days ahead of time by covering tea plants destined for matcha production with shade cloth that blocks out most of the sunlight. In response to shading, the plants produce larger, thinner leaves with more chlorophyll (intensifying color) and amino acids (enriching aroma and umami notes) and fewer bitter tannins.
The farmers harvest the tea when the plant has 3-5 new leaves. They must be careful not to pick leaves that are too large or too small. Gathering too late (even by 2-3 days) compromises quality, and gathering too early decreases the yield. The time the sprouts appear to the time the leaves become too large to harvest is just a few days.
Because of this short harvest period, most tea leaves are trimmed by machine. Traditional hand-picked teas are grown in small batches and considered very precious. The flavor and aroma of hand-picked leaves are considered superior to machine-trimmed leaves.
How is matcha processed?
Fresh tea leaves are processed immediately. They are cleaned, steamed, cooled, dried, cut, sorted, then stored before being ground to produce matcha.
Just after harvest, the leaves are steamed for 30-40 seconds to destroy enzymes that would degrade tea fermentation. It is an important step that influences the quality of the finished tea. From there, the steamed leaves are quickly cooled by a strong blast of air that blows them almost 20 feet into the air. Fast cooling stabilizes the bright color and aroma.
During the drying, the leaves are distributed on an even layer across a conveyor belt, ensuring there is no overlap. They are then placed in a 3- to 4-level structure within a fire pit and heated from underneath by a burner carefully controlled to remain between 230 and 356°F (110-180°C). The leaves pass through all of the levels of the fire pit, drying in about 20 minutes.
Once dried, the leaves are cut, sorted, and mixed thoroughly to ensure consistent quality and flavor. The processed tea, called tencha, is then stored in temperature- and humidity-controlled rooms until needed.
When the time comes to grind the tencha leaves, they are ground using two round, grooved stones. This was originally a time-consuming process when done by hand; today, the grinding stones are driven mechanically. A funnel drops cut leaves through a hole in the upper stone to a space between the two stones. The grinding produces an extremely fine powder that takes roughly one hour to produce 1.41 ounces (40g) of matcha.
What is the difference between sencha and matcha?
Sencha is ordinary green tea made by steeping whole leaves, most of which have not been shaded before harvest. Matcha is made from shaded leaves that are ground to a fine powder.