When it comes to learning about what is matcha, education could go on for days. There isn’t a coffee shop, health section of the grocery store, or even a restaurant where you cannot find something with matcha these days. It certainly has taken over the world.
In history, matcha has had quite a journey starting with the Chinese and being perfected by the Japanese. What is matcha good for? We will be exploring just that today.
In this post, you will learn all about what is matcha.
What Is Matcha?
Matcha is a shade-grown Japanese green tea. It is traditionally made by taking Tencha, a Japanese green tea, removing the stems and veins of the leaf, steaming and drying, and grinding it by stone into a fine powder. Adding shade to the tea leaf increases amino acids in the leaf, which affect flavor profile, color, and caffeine content.
Where did matcha come from?
Matcha, like many teas, originated in China. The Chinese once pressed the tea into cakes. It would then be torn into powder and brewed. They may have added a little salt to the water. When China moved on to incorporating more loose tea into their society, the Japanese took over and perfected the technique of processing and brewing matcha that we know today. The Japanese would come to ground the tea, using a stone mill, into a fine powder and whip it into a frothy beverage.
What is the flavor profile?
It depends on where the tea is grown and produced. Matcha typically has a very veggie-bold flavor profile as a base. It also tends to be heavy in umami due to the increased amino acid content. Meaning this is not a tea style that has sweet notes. You can also find matcha with ocean notes such as seawater, seaweed, or even light fishy notes. This tea may have been produced closer to the ocean. If the veggie notes are extra strong, the tea used to produce matcha may have been more inland.
Matcha usually has a creamy texture and a thick broth. As Jessica Flint and Anna Kavaliunas eloquently put in their book, “Matcha,” it should taste good. If it is super bitter or has an off taste, it was probably mixed incorrectly, did not have the correct tea-to-water ratio, or is old,. Also, it may not have been stored properly.
Ceremonial vs. Culinary Grade Matcha
Simply put, ceremonial matcha is a higher quality used for everyday brewing and ceremonies. Culinary grade is used for lattes, baking, and mixed drinks. Another way is sifted on top of various foods, both savory and sweet.
For this reason, I suggest you use culinary-grade matcha when making lattes or baking. This allows you to save the good stuff for brewing solo and sharing with friends! However, if all you have for brewing is culinary-grade, totally fine.
How Do You Make Matcha?
The easiest way to start would be to purchase a matcha starter kit. You can find them in many places today. This one is just fine to get you started! Most kits will include the matcha bowl, spoon, and whisk. You will want to follow the exact directions from the vendor you purchase your tea. However, at the most superficial level, you will take about a teaspoon of matcha and put it into the bowl. Generally, you will then use about 2-3 oz of water at about 165 degrees Fahrenheit and the bamboo whisk to froth the tea! You will want to soak your bamboo whisk before frothing the tea to make the whisk a bit more pliable! The consistency you will be looking for is a vibrant green color, with bubbles due to your frothing!
Uses of Matcha
Matcha has served many uses in history. Buddhist monks would drink it to stay awake during meditation. Samurai were known to drink it for energy. According to numerous articles cited in the Healthline article, “7 Proven Ways Matcha Tea Improves Your Health“, it is said to have many health benefits.
Matcha can be used in an endless amount of ways. Matcha is an ingredient in many baking recipes, beauty products, mixed drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic), mints, and more, although baking is probably most popular after brewing and consumption. You can check out my recipe for making a simple matcha latte. Matcha can be enjoyed hot or cold, but that comes down to preference, of course!
The Japanese Chanoyu is one of the most incredible uses, and why I love it so much. There are versions of Chanoyu that can last for hours and others that last for 30-45 minutes. It is a ceremony that includes matcha, sometimes in two forms, a darker and lighter version, depending on the length. It will consist of some food or sweets. Much of the time is spent in silence. It is a powerful and meditative experience that commands high respect. It brings a lot of peace to the soul.
Now that you know more about matcha, it is finally time to try it for yourself. Go out and buy yourself some culinary matcha to bake some cookies with! Above all, have fun. Tea is meant to be enjoyed after all 🙂
In this post, you learned about what is matcha!