An Introduction To Matcha Green Tea
WHAT IS MATCHA?
Matcha refers to green tea leaves that are finely-ground into a powder, which is then mixed into hot water to make tea. It can also be used in countless recipes to add a boost of flavor, natural color, and added nutrients. It typically has a grassy, earthy, or umami flavor, but is versatile enough to be used in either sweet or savory recipes.
Although matcha is made of the same leaves as most other tea bags (from the Camellia sinensis plant), it is harvested earlier in the year compared to most other teas, resulting in a milder, sweeter taste.
Matcha contains about half the amount of caffeine as a typical cup of coffee, and is also rich in the amino acid L-theanine, which provides a sense of relaxed focus.
The history of matcha dates back nearly 1,000 years to ancient China, where it was traditionally used by Zen monks to help them meditate without falling asleep. It soon became popular among the higher classes of society, who formed an eloquent tea ceremony with special etiquette for drinking every cup of tea. Nowadays, this ceremony is not required, as matcha is easily accessible and very easy to incorporate into your favorite daily recipes.
Although matcha is still being harvested in China and other countries due to its increasing popularity, Japan is the most reliable source of matcha, as it has hundreds of years of tried & tested methods for precise matcha processing, has prime soil conditions in its volcanic regions, has rigorous quality control measures in place, and has produced tea with the highest nutrient values compared to other tea-growing countries. All of our Sencha Naturals matcha is organically harvested in the rich volcanic soils of Kagoshima, Japan.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MATCHA & TEA BAGS?
Unlike tea bags, matcha is consumed whole. With tea bags, you steep tea leaves into hot water and then discard the bag with the used leaves inside. But with matcha, you mix the green tea powder into water or culinary recipes and consume the powdered leaves in their entirety, with nothing being discarded. This results in a greater amount of nutrients being consumed.
Additionally, conventional green tea bags are filled with tea leaves that have been grown in the sun, that when steeped, result in the yellowish-green liquid that we generally know as green tea. However, matcha is made of green tea leaves that are grown in the shade, resulting in a darker, richer, sweeter, and more deeply-colored shade of green tea.
DOES MATCHA DISSOLVE?
Because matcha comes from finely-ground plant material, it does not “dissolve” in water, and will not result in a clear liquid like conventional tea bags. Instead, matcha must be stirred thoroughly to be incorporated into hot water, and due to its fine nature, natural clumping may occur. For this reason, matcha is incredibly popular in smoothie and latte recipes, where a blender is used to vigorously disperse the matcha particles.
To prevent clumping, you can also use a small hand sifter to sift matcha directly into a mug, and slowly add in hot water while stirring with a spoon or fork to break up any clumps. Another tip is to combine a teaspoon of matcha powder with a teaspoon of honey or maple syrup, and stir until thoroughly mixed (about 30 seconds). Add hot water/milk and stir, and you will end up with a clump-free tea.
Unlike the traditional Japanese tea ceremony used by Zen monks, there is no special etiquette required to enjoy matcha today. This powdered green tea comes in a variety of grades, ranging from culinary-grade typically used in recipes (like smoothies or desserts), to Ceremonial grade that is best consumed in plain water (as hot tea).
Matcha can replace your morning coffee or afternoon snack, giving you a boost of alertness without the jitters. It can be sweetened with honey, made creamier with milk, or simply enjoyed in plain water for its mild grassy taste.
VARIETY OF USES
In addition to its traditional consumption as hot tea, matcha powder can be incorporated into countless recipes for a unique flavor and added nutrient content.
You can think of matcha like cocoa powder. Its natural flavor can range from very sweet to very bitter, which makes it extremely versatile for a great number of drinks, desserts, and culinary dishes. And just like cocoa, matcha won’t instantly dissolve in water, and in fact it might clump. That’s why it’s best to sift it (just as you would sift cocoa), whether using it in culinary recipes or just in a cup of tea.
Matcha can be added to smoothies, cakes, ice cream, yogurt, curries, and sauces. There are thousands of recipes that matcha can be incorporated into, with the only limitation being your imagination.