A Google+ follower asked what matcha is. This question inspired me to start a series that spotlights the different types of tea.
What is Matcha?
Matcha is a finely ground green tea from Japan. Before harvest, the tea bushes are shaded from the sun for about 20 days. This slows their growth and increases the production of amino acids. It also makes sure that the leaves stay soft and tender. The leaves are immediately steamed after harvesting in order to stop oxidation. They are dried and the veins and stems are removed. The resulting tea is called tencha. You might be able to find tencha to brew as loose leaf tea but it is still fairly rare. The tencha is then stone-ground into a powder in order to make matcha.
The finished product has a consistency similar to talc baby powder. It can up to an hour to grind a single 30g container of green tea powder. Stone grinders do not get hot enough to negatively affect the taste of the tea. Lower quality versions will have large particles and a more bitter taste.
How do you make it?
The major difference between matcha and loose leaf tea is that it is a suspension rather than an infusion. It is whisked into water without needing to strain or remove it. In this way, we consume the entire tea leaf. Matcha is known for having a stronger taste as well as higher levels of caffeine.
Matcha is a traditional part of the Japanese tea ceremony. While I would definitely recommend trying to make this tea in the traditional way, there are many other ways to enjoy it. Lattes are very popular. It is also used to flavor everything from Kit Kats to soba noodles.
I love baking with it because it is easy to add to almost any recipe. The possibilities are practically endless. Due to the labor involved, matcha can be quite pricey. However, a good bowl of matcha is an amazing experience and I consider it to be worth the expense.
Do you enjoy drinking this type of tea? How do you usually prepare it? Let me know in the comments below!