Matcha green tea is from Japan – although the origins of matcha powder are derived from China. The leaf is shaded before harvesting to increase the chlorophyll and amino acids including theanine, which not only gives matcha tea its unique sweetness and intense flavour but gives matcha benefits that have been enjoyed by Buddhist monks for many centuries.
At Rare Tea Company, we purchase only organically grown, sustainable matcha, that is free from any chemicals including pesticides and herbicides. It is remarkably rare to find top grade organic matcha powder and we have searched Japan for the very best we can find.
Matcha powder can be used as an ingredient in matcha cakes or pastries, cold infused as matcha iced tea or whipped in hot milk to make matcha latte. The finer and cleaner the ingredients, the better the results in terms of taste and wellbeing.
What is Matcha?
Matcha tea is a green tea (Camelia sinensis) that has been ground into a green tea powder. The tea leaves are de-veined and de-stemmed before being finely ground. Because this tea comes as a powder, matcha is best as a loose leaf tea, not in a matcha teabag, so that it can be whisked into a suspension in the water. Often drunk for it's health benefits, matcha is rich in antioxidants and can be consumed as part of a healthy diet.
Matcha has a long history of being drunk as part of a tea ceremony or "chanoyu" in Japan and makes a wonderful meditative ritual.
Matcha Powder Grades Explained
Matcha tea can be sorted into different 'grades' or 'qualities'. We prefer to refer to grades of tea rather than quality since even the lower grade of matcha available to buy from Rare Tea are of a high quality. Higher grades are crafted with greater precision to get the best flavours out of the leaf. Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest grade and is wonderful drunk on its own. Lower grades of tea are particularly good for combining with milk or used in cooking.
It is worth choosing a higher grade of tea for a less astringent taste if you are drinking it without milk.
How To Prepare Matcha
Matcha can be made into a hot drink, drunk as an iced tea/cold brew or added to juices and smoothies. Whilst you can make matcha without any special teaware, using a matcha bowl and matcha whisk adds to the experience of preparing, serving and drinking matcha.
To make hot matcha you want to start by adding about 2g of matcha to a matcha bowl with a small quantity of cold water (about 10ml). You can then whisk to a smooth consistency - traditionally with a bamboo whisk (Chasen). Top up with another 60ml of hot water (we recommend between 70°C [158°F] and 80°C [176°F] ) before whisking vigorously in an 'M' or 'W' shape until a fine foam is created.
For a matcha latte, start by making a fine paste with a small volume of cold water then top it up with hot foamed milk. If you don't have a milk frother you can just add the hot milk and whisk with a chasen to a light foam.
Making matcha iced tea is quick and easy. Weigh and sieve 3g of matcha into a bowl and add a small amount of cold water to allow you to whisk it to a smooth paste. Once the paste is free from lumps, add a little more water and pour into a bottle. Top the bottle up to 1 litre of cold water, seal and shake. You can drink your iced matcha right away but for the best flavour we recommend refrigerating for 15 minutes before drinking. It will last up to 3 days in the fridge.
Caffeine in Matcha Japanese Tea
Matcha tea, like all tea, naturally contains caffeine. Because you consume the whole leaf, you may consume more caffeine when drinking matcha than other teas which are made from an infusion of the leaf. Measuring the caffeine content in tea is incredibly difficult because it can vary greatly from harvest to harvest and in the many variables when making a cup of tea.
Matcha can provide a gentle caffeine stimulation and the combination of l-theanine and caffeine is less likely to give you the jitters sometimes experienced with coffee. If you find you enjoy swapping your coffee for matcha tea, you can now get a matcha subscription.