Matcha tea – Japanese powder tea
“If a man has no tea in him, he is incapable of understanding truth and beauty.” Japanese proverb
Matcha tea powder, also known as Japanese tea, actually originates in China where the tea leaves were steamed and shaped into tea bricks for storage and trade. The tea was then roasted over a high heat and powderized. Later between 960–1279 the technique of making powdered tea has developed from steam-prepared dried tea leaves, and the final tea product was prepared by mixing tea powder with hot water in a bowl.
Preparation and drinking of powdered tea as it has been known for hundreds of years was influenced by rituals of Zen (Chan) Buddhists. The earliest Chan monastic code called Chanyuan qinggui describes thoroughly the etiquette for tea ceremonies.
Matcha tea and its journey to the rest of the world
Zen Buddhism and Chinese influence on making powdered Matcha tea were brought to Japan around 1191 by the monk. The powdered tea form gradually became less popular in China, however in Japan it continued to have a major influence especially in the Zen monasteries, and became greatly appreciated by others too. These monks were the first people to acknowledge the calming effects of Matcha tea during mediation, the stimulating presence of mind, mental focus, and a calm, meditative state simultaneously. It is thanks to Zen priest Esai that the cultivation of tea in Japan has spread widely and thanks to his famous book about tea the secret to a healthy life is now open to everyone:
“Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete.” (Esai)
Traditional Matcha tea ceremony
Here is a video illustrating the traditional Matcha tea ceremony