Matcha is a finely ground green tea carefully grown and harvested in Japan. A few weeks prior to spring harvest, the green tea plant (camillia sinesis) is shaded from the sun. Shading the tea leaves not only increases chlorophyll, theanine, and caffeine content, it naturally turns the leaves a vibrant shade of green. During harvest, workers hand pick the the youngest and most tender leaves located at the top of the plant. After the leaves have dried, they are de-veined and de-stemmed before they are carefully ground with stone granite wheels to produce an ultra-fine, delicate powder in three grades:
Ceremonial Grade: The highest quality matcha, used in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and Buddhist temples
Premium Grade: A high quality matcha that offers a full range of nutrients and fresh, subtle flavor
Culinary Grade: Quality matcha, suitable for cooking and baking
Unlike the conventional methods for brewing, where loose leaf tea is steeped or strained, this fine matcha powder is sifted and whisked into hot water by preparing it in one of two main styles:
Usucha: thin, lighter and slightly bitter tea
Koicha: thick, milder and sweeter tea
Originally, only royalty were served matcha because it was so time consuming and expensive to produce. The Zen Buddhist monks honored matcha tea for its potential to support meditation and cure various ailments. Today, matcha is a popular beverage both served cold and hot, along with creative uses in foods, desserts, and a variety of confectionery. It's full bodied umami flavor, grassy notes, buttery texture, and lingering sweetness make matcha an exquisite epicurean experience as well as an all natural 'health elixir'.