Matcha tea production
While other green tea leaves are grown throughout the world, matcha production is unique to Japan. Before the harvest, the shade grown leaves are covered to protect them from direct sunlight which slows down the growth and the leaves change colour to black. This also results in production of amino acids. Amino acids play essential role in metabolism and chains of amino acids make up to 75 percent of human body. They dominate the flavour of Matcha tea. The tea leaves are then handpicked and laid out flat to dry and later grinded to smooth powder. It can take up to one hour to grind around 30 grams of Matcha.
Japanese Matcha tea was celebrated for hundreds of years in traditional tea ceremony and used by monks to calm their minds during meditation. Matcha tea contains L-theanine which is known for its ability to relax the mind and to enhance the mood. Recent studies have proven that matcha tea has numerous health benefits and that is can be used as a perfect replacement for coffee because it releases the caffeine slowly throughout the day.
Traditional Matcha tea preparation:
Matcha tea market
The price of Matcha is noticeably higher compared to standard green tea. This is due to the fact that its production is concentrated in Japan, where the domestic demand is very high and only a fraction of the tea is exported. In addition, the preparation method involves grinding the tea leaves to a fine powder which takes longer and is more labour demanding. The most expensive type of Matcha is made out of young leaves which have more vibrant green colour and has finer and softer texture.
There are usually two types of Matcha – thin and think. Thin Matcha – called usucha – is using less tea powder and more water for a milder taste. Thick Matcha – known as koicha – uses the youngest leaves and more tea powder and less water.