What Is Matcha?

Matcha is shade-grown Japanese green tea leaves (camellia sinensis) that are steamed, cut & de-stemmed (tencha) and ground into a fine powder. For centuries, monks have enjoyed matcha to support good health and focus. The production of matcha in Japan is a refined process that involves six crucial steps to ensure the highest quality of this celebrated green tea. We're about to get a bit technical here, so here it goes! Here's how matcha is traditionally produced:

1. Grow

The process begins with the cultivation of the Camellia sinensis plant, the source of all green tea. This plant is specially grown in Japan, and its care and cultivation are crucial for the flavor and quality of the tea.

2. Shade

Before harvest, the plants are shaded to slow down growth and increase chlorophyll levels. This step is key as it enhances the green color and flavor of the leaves. The shading process also increases the production of amino acids, particularly L-Theanine, which contributes to the tea's unique umami flavor.

3. Harvest

The tea leaves are carefully harvested. There are typically three harvests (known as "flushes") in a year - the first in late April to early May, the second from June to the end of July, and the third from September to October.

4. Steam & Dry

Once harvested, the leaves are quickly steamed to halt oxidation and preserve their color and nutritional content. After steaming, the leaves are air-dried.

5. Cut & De-Stem

After drying, the leaves are cut and the stems and veins are removed to ensure a smooth texture. Only the purest parts of the leaves are used to make matcha. This refined material is known as "tencha."

6. Grind

The final step involves grinding the tencha into a fine powder - AKA Matcha! There are 3 different types of milling processes including Stone Milling, Ball/Bead Milling, and Cyclone Milling which are all used in present day matcha production.


About Our Farming Practices

All of our Sencha Naturals matcha is organically harvested in the rich soils of Japan. This island nation 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 green tea with the highest nutrient values compared to other tea-growing countries. For this reason, we source all of our matcha exclusively from Japan.

We work directly with small tea farmers in the lush Kagoshima region. Kagoshima is an ancient seaside town under the watchful eye of an active volcano. This volcanic region provides rich soils that are perfectly primed for nutrient-dense green tea.

Our regional growers specialize in sustainable organic farming practices and harvesting methods to produce the freshest quality matcha at the best value. These multi-generational farmers have passed on their traditional harvesting techniques throughout the decades, ensuring that the finely-tuned art of matcha production and harvesting is preserved for years to come.

Our Matcha Grades: Explained

If you’re a fan of matcha, chances are you’ve heard terms like ceremonial, premium, culinary, teahouse, and more thrown around when it comes to matcha grades. However, these terms are not regulated by a centralized authority or under a global standard. We know it can be overwhelming, so we simplified it down to two of our favorite "grades."

Emperor's Matcha

Emperor’s Matcha, is what we like to call our ceremonial matcha. This grade of matcha is the highest quality and is often used in traditional tea ceremonies (though of course, you don't need to enjoy it that way). The leaves used for ceremonial matcha are harvested from the first harvest, known as Ichibancha. This results in a bright green color and a smooth, sweet taste with a hint of umami.If you’re a matcha enthusiast who enjoys drinking it straight or in an elevated latte, our Emperor's Matcha may be the best choice for you.


Everyday Matcha

Everyday Matcha is the perfect blend of ceremonial and premium grade matcha powder - harvested from both the first and second harvests, known as Ichibancha and Nibancha. By blending these two types of leaves, you get a well-rounded and delicious matcha without premium price. That way, you can enjoy a perfect matcha latte, smoothie or recipe on the daily. Your taste buds (and wallet) will thank you!



Multi-Generational Farming Benefits

Multi-generational farming, where agricultural practices and knowledge are passed down through families over many years or even centuries, has several profound benefits for the production of matcha, a tea that requires meticulous care and expertise. Here's why this tradition is particularly beneficial for the quality and sustainability of matcha:

1. Deeply Rooted Expertise:

  • Skill Accumulation: Over generations, families accumulate extensive knowledge about the intricate process of growing and processing Camellia sinensis (the tea plant). Each generation adds its own experience and innovations, refining the techniques over time.
  • Understanding the Land: Families become intimately familiar with the specific conditions of their land — the soil, climate, and local ecosystems — allowing them to optimize cultivation methods for the highest quality tea leaves.

2. Consistent Quality:

  • Quality Maintenance: Generational farmers are deeply invested in maintaining the high standards set by their ancestors. They have a personal stake in ensuring that the matcha produced is of the finest quality, preserving the reputation of their family and tea.
  • Craft Perfection: Years of observation and practice lead to an almost intuitive understanding of the plant, enabling farmers to make precise adjustments to shading, harvesting, and processing to produce the best matcha.

3. Sustainable Practices:

  • Long-term Stewardship: Multi-generational farmers view the land as a legacy to be passed down rather than a short-term asset. This perspective fosters sustainable practices that protect and nourish the land, ensuring it remains productive for future generations.
  • Ecosystem Understanding: Generations of farming create a deep understanding of local ecosystems, allowing farmers to work harmoniously with the environment, preserving biodiversity and soil health.

4. Innovation Rooted in Tradition:

  • Adaptive Techniques: While honoring traditional methods, generations of farmers also adapt and innovate in response to changing conditions, new research, and evolving markets. This balance of tradition and innovation ensures that the matcha produced is both authentically crafted and of the highest contemporary standards.
  • Preservation and Progress: The continuity of knowledge allows for the preservation of traditional methods while also providing a solid foundation for introducing beneficial modern techniques.

5. Cultural and Economic Stability:

  • Community Support: Multi-generational farms often become pillars of rural communities, supporting local economies and preserving cultural traditions around tea cultivation and consumption.
  • Consumer Trust: The heritage and story behind multi-generational farms can enhance consumer trust and appreciation for the matcha, adding value to the product.

6. Passion and Pride:

  • Emotional Connection: Generational farmers often have a strong emotional connection to their land and crops, driving them to take extra care in every step of the process, from planting to processing.
  • Quality Assurance: The family's reputation is closely tied to the product, motivating a continuous commitment to excellence.