Years ago I attended a seminar on matcha tea and was fascinated by the complex and painstaking steps used in the growing and processing of the tea leaves.
Matcha tea has a beautiful rich green color. This color comes from matcha’s unique growing and harvesting process which concentrates chlorophyll. Matcha is a green tea, however the matcha tea is grown in shade before it is harvested, slowing its rate of growth and concentating its chlorophyll. This not only concentrates chlorophyll but also other helpful nutrients such as amino acids. The leaves are then hand harvested with only the best going into making matcha green tea. After harvesting, the leaves are laid flat and dried in the shade. Before processing they are deveined and the stems are removed. Next the leaves are stone ground to a very fine green powder that is now referred to as matcha green tea. This is a long and delicate process.
Due to the way it is grown, matcha is an excellent sources of epigallocatechin 3-gallate (EGCG). Matcha has over 100 times the amount of EGCG that other green teas have.
After the matcha is made it is graded for quality. Some matcha is food grade and due to the sweet quality of its concentrated amino acids is often use in deserts such as green tea ice cream. The best and finest grades are used for the Zen Japanese’s tea ceremonies.
It is great to experiencing matcha green tea using the tools they use for the green tea ceremonies. Matcha is brewed at a lower temperature than green tea. Usually between 175 and 180 C. It is removed from the container with a special bamboo scoop called a chashaku. It is placed in a special porcelain bowel called a chawan. Next the water 175-180 C is added to the bowl and whisked with a special bamboo whisk called a chasen. It is whisked till there are no lumps and till it slightly frothy. The whisk (chasen) is stored on a special porcelain chasen holder to make sure that it keeps it shape and helps the whisk to last longer.