What’s In Matcha Powder
MMMMM…. Matcha it’s so tasty. One of our favorite things to do with it is make in into a beverage; Matcha tea. Let me ask you this have you ever wondered what is in Matcha powder, or where it comes from, or even how to prepare it? Did you know that there are different grades of it as well?
What’s in Matcha powder?
Matcha comes from shaded Camellia Sinensis tea leaves that is ground up into a fine powder.
Growing the leaves in the shade slows down the growth, which stimulates and increases the chlorophyll levels. This process also turns the leaves a darker shade of green, and causes the production of more theanine and caffeine.
Different grades of Matcha
Bright green in color, ceremonial grade is the most expensive grade of Matcha. This Matcha is stone-ground into a powder by granite stone mills.
Ceremonial grade Matcha is whisked with hot water and drunk without additional flavors or blends. It has a more Umami taste; which is a taste that is a combination of sweetness, sourness, bitterness, and saltiness.
In order to make a balanced cup of ceremonial grade Matcha you’ll need about one half-teaspoon of ceremonial grade Matcha for every cup (8 ounces) of hot water.
Still, very rich in flavors premium grade uses the top leaves of the tea plant. It contains all the goodness and nutrients found in ceremonial grade Matcha. Premium is a bit stronger in taste and slightly more bitter than ceremonial grade. But overall it’s a good all-around Matcha if you’re looking to both drink and cook with.
Comes from the lower part of the plant and has more of a bitter taste
Culinary grade is most often used for cooking and baking, but you can also drink it. The taste is a bit more strong and bitter than the other grades so it is best to mix other flavors with it.
Where does Matcha originate from?
Where did the first sign of Matcha emerge from and how has it changed since then?
While there are other green teas grown throughout the world, Matcha is unique to Japan. Tea cultivated for Matcha today is primarily grown in two Japanese regions: Uji in Kyoto prefecture and Nishio in the Aichi prefecture.
Tea from Uji has come to be renowned for its superior quality. It has been blessed with the quality of soil and surroundings needed for one of Japan’s most famous products, Matcha.
But where the actual origins trace back to is the Tang Dynasty in China where stemmed tea leaves were formed into bricks, creating an easier alternative for transport & trade. The tea bricks were roasted & ground to make the tea powder that was mixed with water and salt.
However, the consequent Song Dynasty is largely credited with making the powdered form of green tea preparation widespread.
The first known evidence of green tea making it to Japanese shores arrived during the Heian period (8-9th century). The first two Buddhist monks named Kukai and Saicho are recognized with bringing tea seeds to Japan.
In A.D. 815 a Buddhist monk known as Eichu served the then emperor of Japan, an unpressed and un-powdered green leaf tea.
The powdered version of green tea was still 800 years away!
Powdered green tea did catch the eye of a man from Japan named Myoan Eisai toward the end of the 12th century AD. He went to China to learn the ways of Buddhism because he was dissatisfied with the state of Buddhism in Japan.
He came back to Japan with Zen scriptures, tea seeds, and the process of replicating powdered green tea. He soon planted the tea seeds around the area of Kyoto.
At this point in time Matcha was strictly considered a religious practice which only a select few members of society could participate. This ritual is called the Tea Ceremony or Chanoyu. Earlier translations for the word were “hot water for tea” but is now referred to as “the rite of tea” or “the way of tea”.
Matcha was extremely precious and was produced only in small quantities so that only the Shogun and royalty were able to consume Matcha.
But in 1738 that all changed when a man named Sohen Nagatani invented the “Uji” green tea processing method.
This method is still in practice and used today, and it enabled a much more efficient process to create this revered “Matcha”.
Matcha, the ceremonial tea of the shogun and nobility, now became more available to the public.
Prior to this revolutionary process of creating Matcha tea, only a handful of merchants had been approved to process and create Matcha.
Because of this society at large drank only what was called, Bancha (Houjicha), which has a brown color, and which was much more bitter to taste and lacked that beautiful bright green color of the valuable Matcha tea.
Sohen Nagatani wanted the common people of Japan to be able to have access to not only brown but also this highly revered “ceremonial” or “matcha” green tea.
Nagatani began to teach the farmers the secret of this “Uji” processing method which had a tremendous impact on the development of the entire Uji region of Kyoto; bringing this respected tea to the people.
How to prepare Matcha
Preparing a cup of Matcha tea is simple. The process can be quite meditative and calming while creating this delicate beverage.
Step one, you will need to measure about 1-2 teaspoons worth of Matcha powder into a tea cup. A cup to mix the actual powder.
How much you use depends on how strong you would like your tea. You may also sift the powder before putting it into the cup. This makes the powder blend more smoothly with the water. But of course it is optional to sift.
Step two, add about 8 ounces of water. For best tasting results use water just under a boil.
Step three, whisk vigorously in a zig zag or “W” motion until a frothy foam starts to emerge. It is optional to use a bamboo whisk that is traditionally used for whisking Matcha tea. You can use your kitchen whisk if need be.
Step four, enjoy your freshly brewed and whisked cup of Matcha tea! At this point you can drink it straight or add milk and honey to give it some sweetness.
Because Matcha is the entire tea-leaf, it will never dissolve. Once mixed, some settling may occur. So, you may find yourself stirring your cup to evenly distribute the powder while you drink it.
Our way of making a cup of Matcha tea
Kuzoo and I have a “special” way of making a cup of Matcha tea at home.
The obvious is I heat up fresh, cold, tap water into a pot until it is boiling. Then, I let the water sit for about 1-2 minutes.
Sometimes I will add a couple Oolong tea bags to the water while it is cooling down to give it an extra caffeine and flavor boost. The end result of that is it will look like Matcha tea but have the aroma of Oolong. It is an interesting combination.
While the water is cooling down I prepare the cups by adding 1-2 teaspoons of Matcha, a teaspoon to tablespoon of honey, and one fourth cup of alternative milk, like soy, almond, or any other milk alternative and the rest is gravy! Just kidding the rest will be hot water. :p
Every so often I personally (Yena) will add some cinnamon to give it some spice. I am usually the one who makes the tea but I do not mind because I get creative and make new tasting drinks while keeping the Matcha base.
Matcha tea is the powdered version of the Camellia Sinensis leaf and there are three different grades of Matcha. It goes from the highest quality which is the ceremonial grade, to premium grade which is a little more bitter than ceremonial, to the cooking grade. Cooking grade is much more bitter but mixes well with other flavors if using the powder to bake or mix with dishes. Matcha tea is also rich with theanine and caffeine. Those two components help with depression and enhances and gives you sustained energy throughout the day. Let’s not forget that Matcha originates from China but was brought over by a Japanese monk along with the process of making tea powder. For quite some time Matcha was considered a drink for the wealthy or the Shogun who was a part of the Japanese military. Preparing this drink is easy and consuming it can be invigorating.
There are so many fun ways to use Matcha! From a simple cup of tea to an entire Matcha cake!
What are some of your favorite weird drinks that you make at home? Have you tried making a dish using Matcha powder?
Please, comment below and let us know! We love new recipes!