Much Ado About Matcha
Good morning folks!
Today’s post is a Tea Culture post on the production & power of Matcha. You may be asking yourself – What do I do with it? Should I jump on the Matcha bandwagon? What’s with the funky green color?
Yes, yes, I know, it seems like a very confusing – and depending on where you go – very expensive product. Bear with me, and I will guide you through all of the questions you are asking yourself right now.
But I have a feeling after you read this post you will be convinced to give it a try, simply because of the myriad of pure health benefits from consuming this magical elixir known as Matcha.
Let’s jump in to it!
So, first off, the color. What gives? What makes it sooo green? To sum it all up, Matcha is the purest form of green tea you can buy (hence the green! Ooh! Makes sense hey?). Matcha comes from the Camellia Sinesis plant. If you have followed along with previous Tea Culture posts, the Camellia Sinesis plant is the plant responsible for a wide number of teas: Oolong, Black and Green – and Matcha is no exception. There are many varieties of the Camellia Sinesis plant, which is why there are so many variations of loose leaf tea.
The varieties of the Camellia Sinesis plant also produce a wide variety of Matcha. The highest grade of Matchas come from one of 3 varieties of Camellia Sinesis plants, known in Japanese as:
Many teas are harvested multiple times throughout the year, and a second harvest is referred to as a second flush. Many matcha producers create second and even third flushes. In contrast, matcha is harvested once a year, typically in May. The tea leaves are shade grown, with the highest grade matcha grown in near-darkness by the time harvest rolls around. From here, new shoots are harvested and steamed. Once the leaves are dry, they are sorted for grade (with the youngest, greenest, most tender leaves earning the highest marks).
Then the time-consuming task of destemming and deveining happens. The leaves that make it through this rigorous process are called tencha, and, of course, the quality of tencha varies widely. Tencha is then kept refrigerated until it’s ready to be ground, using large granite wheels that rotate very slowly and gently to avoid scorching, into the very fine powder we recognize as matcha. It takes more than an hour to grind 30 grams, which is one of the reasons hand-milled matcha costs so much (in addition, labor costs are quite high in Japan). It is this grinding process from which matcha, literally, “ground tea”—derives its name. The ground tea is then vacuum packed and refrigerated at low temperatures until it ships.
One serving of matcha tea is the nutritional equivalent of 10 cups of regularly brewed tea. Not to mention, matcha powdered green tea has 137 times more antioxidants than regularly brewed green tea. Matcha tea contains a unique, potent class of antioxidant known as catechins. In particular, the catechin EGCg contains many cancer-fighting properties. Most importantly, EGCg and other catechins counteract the effects of free radicals from the likes of pollution, UV rays, radiation, and chemicals, which can lead to cell and DNA damage. Since over 60% of the catechins in matcha are actually EGCg, a daily matcha regimen can help restore and preserve the body.
So … pretty crazy stuff huh?
If you are ready to try it out, we have matcha available for purchase here at Bean Around Books