If you’re interested in learning more about where Matcha comes from and how it came to be enjoyed by people all over the world, then you’re in the right place.
If you’re looking for some excellent green tea recipes, we’ve got those as well.
Or are you simply looking for some stories that can confirm the passion you feel for Matcha? Step right in and make yourself at home–Matcha has led to many wonderful experiences in my life, as I’m sure it has in yours as well.
If you’re researching the best place to buy matcha online, we’ve got you covered there, as well. Head over to our shop to find our recommended matcha brands as well as all the matcha-related accessories you could ever want.
If you want to cut right to the chase, here are two matcha brands crafted organically using traditional methods:
Matcha is one of many different types of green tea that originated in China and then Japan around 500 BCE. For all we know, tea may well have been cultivated and consumed by humans in present day China well before that, but as of 500 BCE, records and artifacts indicate that people were already hooked on tea as a preferred beverage.
One of the most fascinating accounts of the consumption of green tea was written by the first person who brought tea to Japan from China. The Japanese monk Eisai carried tea back with him to Japan after a sojourn to China where he studied Chan Buddhism.
Matcha with Chazen and Tea Bowl
Upon returning to Japan, Eisai spread the word about tea both by helping plant the first crops of tea in Japan and also by writing the first treatise on tea in Japan–The Book of Tea. In this book, Eisai argued for the immense health benefits accrued by regularly drinking tea.
As travelers and traders found their way to China, and as Chinese travelers and traders made their way abroad, tea spread like wildfire.
Green Tea, Briefly
Green tea comes from the leaves of the plant Camellia sinensis. This small bush grows about six feet tall in tropical and subtropical regions. Initially, it grew in China and Southeast Asia, but as soon as the secret of tea got out, Camellia sinensis plants began to be cultivated all over the world wherever the climate was suitable.
Green tea is not the only type of tea that comes from the leaves of Camellia sinensis. Many different varieties of popular tea utilize the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. White, green, oolong and black tea all come from the leaves of this species of tea plant. The differences in the varieties of tea occur based on how the leaves are treated and processed.
Green tea is harvested and then dried like most teas, but the leaves are not allowed to undergo much in the way of oxidation. In order for tea leaves to achieve the proper flavor, some form of processing is generally necessary. The leaves dry out. As they dry out, they begin to oxidize, which simultaneously makes the caffeine in the leaves more available while also changing the flavor of the leaves.
Where black or oolong tea leaves are allowed to oxidize until the leaves turn their customary dark black color, green tea leaves oxidize only slightly and retain their green hue.
Where Does Matcha Come From?
Matcha is a specifically Japanese variety of green tea.
The tea leaves are harvested early in the season–the supple, young leaves at the top of the tea bushes are the most highly prized. When young bright green leaves are harvested and dried in the shade, the leaves retain their almost sweet, delicate flavor.
For the final few weeks before harvesting, matcha tea leaves are covered so as to avoid direct sunlight reaching the leaves. Keeping the tender young leaves out of direct sunlight further improves their delicate flavor.
Throughout the process of harvesting, drying and grinding, tea makers keep careful watch on the in-progress Matcha to insure that very light levels of oxidation take place. Overly oxidizing Matcha leads to stronger and less pleasant flavors in the tea.
To create the green tea powder, Matcha is ground using special stone equipment. The grinding process is extremely delicate–overly agitating the tender leaves can lead to over-oxidation and degradation of the flavor of the tea.
The End Product: Matcha Green Tea Powder
When extreme care and attention is taken in the cultivation and preparation of Matcha, the result is a delicate and sublime green tea powder.
This powder is the form of tea used in the famous Japanese tea ceremony.
The fragile delicacy of Matcha pairs perfectly with the exquisite attention to detail that characterizes the tea ceremony.
I’ll get into the tea ceremony in greater detail elsewhere, but for now, all of this is just to show that Matcha is truly special within the domain of tea. Where most teas have been carefully grown and harvested, Matcha requires an even more attentive and careful process of preparation and processing.
Matcha is wonderful to drink for all sorts of reasons, but it is always a great privilege to be able to enjoy Matcha green tea powder no matter the occasion.
Recommended Books on Matcha
If you’re interested in learning more about matcha including its history, its health properties and ways to consume it, these are some of the best books out there: