Matcha, "ma" meaning powder and "cha" meaning tea, is a powdered green tea harvested from the tea plant, Camellia Sinensis. This plant is native to Southern China. It was discovered by Zen Buddhists Monks during the 9th century from their visits to China. One monk in particular, Myoan Eisai, came back to Japan and devoted his life to teaching Zen Buddhism and the ceremony of matcha.
While the method of consuming tea in powder form faded in China, it became treasured in Japan. Eisai discovered that his meditation sessions were enhanced with the consumption of matcha, providing him with a calm alertness. These experiences inspired his book, Kissa Yojoki – How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea, which sparked a matcha celebration through the Japanese Tea Ceremony that was embraced by the Shogun and nobility of Japan.
Hundreds of years later, matcha is now more available than ever outside of the Shogun and nobility class. Beyond hot tea, it has become commonly used to flavor and dye foods such as mochi and soba noodles, green tea ice cream, matcha lattes, and a variety of Japanese wagashi confectionery.