About Matcha

ABOUT MATCHA

What is Matcha? Matcha is a green tea that has been shade-grown, de-veined, de-stemmed and ground into a very fine powder. Matcha isn't steeped, its "eaten." Matcha drinkers benefit from a higher concentration of antioxidents, vitamins, minerals and fibre than are found in any other tea. Simply pour hot water over the sifted powder, froth it (with a traditional bamboo whisk or an electric milk frother), and enjoy!

Matcha is the heart of the Japanese way of tea and has been celebrated in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony which dates back over 800 years. Zen Buddhist monks have been drinking matcha prior to meditation to help them focus and achieve calm mental alertness. Japanese samurai also drank matcha to bring peace, harmony and tranquility to their violent lives. Fresh tea leaves are handpicked, dried and ground by low-friction granite stone mills into an ultra-fine jade green powder.

How is matcha tea produced? Several weeks prior to the spring harvest, tea farmers cover the tea plants with bamboo mats or tarps, reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the plants. This step increases the chlorophyll content and turns the leaves dark green, giving matcha its distinct brilliant green color.

The fresh leaves are hand-picked and steamed to prevent oxidation. Next, the leaves are sorted for grade, and then de-stemmed and de-veined. At this stage, the leaves become tencha, the precursor to matcha. The tencha leaf is not rolled, but simply dried and is then ground by special granite grinding wheels to become matcha. It’s as simple as that.

Does Matcha contain caffeine and how does it compare to other teas and coffee? Yes, matcha does contain caffeine. The caffeine in Matcha is alkalizing rather than the opposite—acidic. There is caffeine in Matcha, but it releases into the bloodstream slowly. The time of the release varies, but it is not nearly as harsh as the caffeine rush inherent in coffee and energy drinks. This gradual and consistent release provides the body with just the right amount of caffeine over a longer period of time rather than dumping a huge amount of caffeine into the body all at once. Matcha still yields an immediate boost, but not the extreme rush. The lift is far more appropriate to your energy demand, and can be easily regulated based on that demand. Once again, a blast of too much caffeine results in an acidic state that can harm the stomach lining and arteries over time, taxing the organs and disrupting the body's overall functionality. By contrast, Matcha's caffeine has an alkalizing effect, resulting in a much gentler influence on the stomach, which gradually aids with digestion, healing, cleansing. 


Does your Matcha come caffeine-free? Never.The process of decaffeinating it would actually remove many of the nutrients and powerful antioxidants.
 
Why is Matcha tea more expensive compared to regular green tea?
Comparatively speaking, green tea ranges anywhere from $0.30 to $1.00 per cup, Matcha ranges from $0.60 and up per cup.  Given the significantly increased health benefit of matcha, its inherent freshness and the lengthy process involved in creating matcha, the price differential seems quite minimal.

Matcha is a type of green tea but 10 times more concentrated than traditional steeped green tea. Like fine wine, the process of making matcha is very complex. The average particle size of matcha powder is only 5-10 microns small (1 micron = 0.001mm). Finer than baby powder. One stone mill only grinds up to 30-40g per hour (an average tin size of matcha). With all the modern technology today, the granite stone mill is still the best way to grind matcha from the delicate tencha tea leaves. Because you are drinking this plant in its entirety you receive every nutrient (vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fiber, etc) that the plant has to offer.

Each 40gram bag of plain matcha is 40, 1/2 tsp servings. Matcha green tea is very different from regular green tea as a little bit goes a long way. You only need to add about 1/2 tsp Matcha per 2-4oz serving.
 
Is Matcha Gluten-Free? Matcha is naturally gluten-free. No colour or flavour enhancers, sugar, or anything added. Just pure Japanese green tea.

Should Matcha be drunk hot or cold? The health benefits are the same and are not altered when matcha is combined with hot water. With matcha tea, heat does not destroy the nutrients - unlike most foods that have been cooked. Drink it both ways and experience the same benefits.  In fact, we recommend making matcha with hot water (to release L-theanine, see below) and then cooling it with ice.

Can I pre-make matcha like I would for an ice tea and keep in the fridge as a cold beverage or would that ruin the health benefits and/or taste? You can definitely pre-make this tea and keep in the fridge. We recommend making enough for one day to keep it fresh. It’s best made hot first before cooling. It’s the perfect pick me up for that afternoon lull and need a boost of energy and focus.

How can you tell good matcha from bad matcha? It’s very easy to tell good matcha from bad matcha when the package is opened. It’s impossible to tell just by looking at packaging. Packaging can be deceptive: always buy from a trusted source such as, Just Matcha. Once the package is open, you should notice that the matcha is vibrant green. Bad matcha will be a dull green and we have encountered a few that were yellowish. These colors are bad signs.

But I don’t like the taste, it’s bitter! Some people find they don’t like the taste the first few times they try matcha – and make no mistake, Matcha tastes different. However, similar to the same initial experiences with coffee or tea, after a few cups, you may come to love it! People usually find that after drinking it for a week or two they actually begin to crave the nutritious taste of matcha. Additionally, there are many variations of Matcha ranging in taste from bitter to savory or sweet. Not all Matcha is the same and as with fine wine, experimentation may yield a Matcha that meets a person’s taste profile. 

If you still don't care for the taste, we suggest sweetening it with a bit of honey, making a latte, or adding it to your favorite smoothie.

How do I store Matcha? Matcha is very delicate stuff. Remember the movie, Gremlins? It’s pretty similar. It doesn’t like heat, air, moisture or light and definitely don’t feed it past midnight!  Once the tencha leaves are ground the clock starts ticking. Matcha lasts about one year on the shelf. If you have matcha that has ‘expired’ we recommend baking with it.

Once matcha is opened, it really should be used up within three or four weeks — or, if we really want to push it, no longer than eight weeks to ensure optimum freshness, color, and taste. Matcha is not your grandmother’s black tea blend. You shouldn’t “save it for a special occasion.” There’s no better time than the present.

Matcha should either be stored in the freezer, if you plan on not opening it for a while, or in the fridge, until you decide to crack the seal. Write down the date you open the tea on the tin.  When opened, if not used daily, seal and store in the fridge away from strong odors.

What is Umami? Umami is a Japanese word that means savory or delicious and can be directly applied to good tasting matcha. The word was also borrowed from the Japanese language to indicate and differentiate a distinct taste from other flavors: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. Umami is the 5th flavor, synonymous with savory in the culinary arts. Monosodium Glutamate, or MSG, is a synthesized version of the umami taste used in Chinese cuisine to enhance flavor artificially. 

Theanine however, has an all-natural umami flavor. It is the glutamic acid that gives the umami flavor its character. Theanine is present in all green tea in varying degrees and is an ethylamide of glutamic acid. Therefore it is theanine that gives Matcha its umami-sweet taste. So when a matcha is said to have umami, it means specifically that is has this 5th distinctive flavor, and generally that it is delicious and savory.

What is the difference between matcha and sencha powder? After harvest, matcha goes through a refining stage where the tea leaves are de-veined and de-stemmed. The best parts of the leaf are collected, dried, and sent off to be ground with granite stone grinders. sencha (and other powdered teas) are ground whole with the stems, veins, and all parts of the leaf. When sencha is ground machines are used instead of stone grinders and the result is a larger, coarser particle size.

Matcha has a vibrant green color; it is as fine as baby powder in terms of particle size. It also has a nice, natural, sweet taste and sweet, vegetal smell. sencha powder has a more yellowish/brownish hue, feels more coarse, and has a stronger, bitter, astringent flavor.

Not all powdered tea can be called “matcha.” It can’t be called “matcha” unless it follows the growing and refining methods mentioned above. Some companies try to sell generic tea powder under the “matcha” name. They too have fallen victim thinking that and powdered tea can be called matcha, when in fact that is most certainly not the case.