For starters, matcha is a special kind of green tea that has been processed meticulously and with great care. In fact, unlike other forms of tea, this one isn’t steeped, but consumed fully- “eaten.” Furthermore, the reason a lot of people are getting more and more interested in giving this drink a try is because it’s packed with a wide range of health goodness– it contains antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and loads of fiber– all available in one drink. Best of all, it’s also very easy to prepare– all you have to do is pour hot water (not boiling) over the green powder, froth it, and you can enjoy all its goodness.
The Complex and Captivating Taste
The amino acid and chlorophyll present in this type of tea is the reason behind its unique rich taste, and lingering sweetness that most can’t get enough of. Traditionally, it’s prepared using a bamboo whisk, for it to get frothy.
Those who have tried this tea describes the taste as something similar to the first taste of red whine or dark chocolate– that’s why for most, it’s an acquired taste– it’s either you love it or hate it. Though, if you’re going to use it as an ingredient, the taste becomes subtler and more enjoyable– most end up saying that it makes any dessert or drink, “creamy.”
The Secret Behind Its Taste
Green tea has always been a part of traditional Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries. Back in the days, Zen Buddhist monks drink this tea before meditation, because it allows them to concentrate better and attain calm mental alertness. Aside from them, Japanese samurai also drink matcha because it gives them the peace, harmony, and tranquility they need– we all know how violent their lives can be.
Moving on, only the best leaves are handpicked, dried, and ground using granite stone mills– this results to an ultra-fine green tea powder that’s jade in color.
How Is It Produced
A few weeks before spring harvest, the farmers carefully cover the tea plants using tarps or bamboo mats. The purpose of this is to reduce the amount of sunlight that hits the plant. This is an essential step, because it ensures that the production of chlorophyll would increase, turning the leaves dark green– the distinct color of the highest-grade matcha powder.
Once there leaves are ready for picking, the harvesters carefully choose the ones that can be powdered, and to prevent them from oxidation, they are steamed right away. Although great care has already been given during picking these leaves, they are still sorted depending on their quality and grade; then they are de-stemmed and de-veined. At this stage, the leaves are labeled as “tencha.”
Tencha leaves are usually cheaper because they’re are rolled, but dried and ground using grinding wheels. Thus, the taste is also different.
The Plant It Came From
Just like other forms of tea, matcha also comes from the plant called, “camellia sinesis.” The leaves of this plant can be dried directly, and this turns into the simplest for of green tea. When it’s fermented, then it becomes oolong tea, and if fully fermented, black tea.
Among these types of tea, matcha is the premium kind– just like what has been mentioned earlier, before it turns into the kind of tea that we all enjoy, it undergoes a process that gives its unique smell, taste, and quality.
However, it’s also important to note that the plant “camellia sinesis” comes in different varieties– that’s why if you notice, some matcha tastes better than other. Wherein, the highest-grade of organic matcha powder comes from Japanese varietals.
These varietals have been discovered 900 years ago, and the best Japanese growers and farmers would tell you that it’s the best form of tea you’ll ever have. No doubt about that, as these families know how to cultivate this variety in order to have the superior tea.
How to Prepare the Best-Tasting Matcha
To enjoy the best tasting green tea, it’s always ideal to prepare it the traditional way. That means stay away from instant ones, but opt for the ‘premium’ ones. Sift the powder first, then pour hot (but not boiling water). Then, start whisking using a bamboo whisk– this should be done in a zigzag motion and until it becomes frothy. After that, you can enjoy the best-tasting matcha and enjoy its benefits.