If any tea has seen a rise to stardom, it's matcha. In the past few years, influencers and health gurus began to popularize the beverage on social media. It became "viral" in the United States, and everyone wanted to sample this new green latte.
While matcha has seemingly boomed in the past few years, this beverage has actually been around since the 7th century. Known for its unique flavor, matcha is a fine green tea powder made from whole green tea leaves.
In this blog, we'll cover everything you need to know about matcha, including its history, how it's made, its flavor profile, and health benefits.
History of Matcha
Green tea was first developed and cultivated during the Tang Dynasty (7th–10th century) when tea was gathered and made into tea bricks for storage and long-distance transportation.
While the Tang Dynasty popularized green tea, it was Zen Buddhists who made the preparation and consumption of powdered tea into a ceremony. They grew the green tea plant, known as "sencha," under shadowed conditions to maximize the therapeutic properties of the green tea.
Zen Buddhists were well aware of the meditational benefits of Sencha green tea, which provided them with a higher sense of clarity and well-being. Over the years, this particular powdered green tea became recognized as a ceremonial tea of the temple high priests.
Green tea, brewed from green tea leaves, Today, it is now commonly referred to as "matcha."
What Is Matcha Made From?
Matcha is made from the Camellia Sinensis plant. Matcha tea leaves are grown under shade for three weeks, which causes the plant to overproduce chlorophyll in an attempt to compensate for the minimal sun. The shade also increases the amino acid l theanine in the plant, which is thought to be responsible for the drink's profound unique flavor. It is then harvested.
While other countries grow green tea, it is known that Japan produces the best matcha. Matcha-specific tea is grown predominantly in two Japanese regions: Uji, near Kyoto, and Nishio, in the Aichi prefecture.
How to Enjoy Matcha
Matcha can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, and there is a wide range of matcha drinks to explore that ranges from traditional to trendy. Here are some of the most popular ways to enjoy matcha:
● Hot Matcha Tea: Matcha is traditionally prepared as a hot tea. In this preparation, the drink is made in a bowl called a chawan and stirred with a bamboo whisk called a chasen. However, the special equipment isn't required to enjoy a good hot matcha tea. A mug or portable mug can function as the chawan, and you can omit the chasen in favor of an electric matcha frother or a silicone whisk, like Mosi's BPA-free matcha attachment.
● Iced Matcha Tea: On a hot day, iced matcha tea can be an ultimate refresher. You can make an iced matcha tea the same way you would a hot tea, but then pour the whisked matcha into an ice-filled glass. Alternatively, you can enjoy your matcha by shaking it in a container or portable infuser with cold water.
● Matcha Latte: This has quickly become the most popular way to enjoy matcha. Whether you prefer iced or hot matcha lattes, adding steamed milk or cold milk froth to your cup adds a creamy richness to the slightly bitter, earthy matcha tea. Any milk or milk alternative can pair well with matcha. Mosi's Vanilla Matcha Tea makes for the perfect base to a matcha latte, adding a hint of warm vanilla for extra creaminess.
At popular cafe chains, you likely will find green tea lattes or matcha lattes on the menu, but not matcha tea. This is because these cafes are likely using a lower-quality matcha, where the milk and sweetener in the latte can balance out any bitterness.
● Matcha Smoothie: A teaspoon or two of matcha powder in your morning smoothie will give you the energy boost you need to get through the day. The flavor of the powdered green tea won’t be overpowering, allowing you to enjoy the various flavors you add to your smoothie. However, a pure matcha smoothie is also great!
● Matcha Cocktail: To lighten up a cocktail, add a pinch of matcha powder. Matcha can be perfect in many types of cocktails; you can never go wrong with popular drinks such as mojitos, vodkas, and more.
Difference Between Ceremonial & Culinary Grade Matcha
Although ceremonial and culinary grade matcha are very similar, there are a few key differences. The primary distinction between these two forms of matcha is the time they are harvested and how they are meant to be consumed.
Ceremonial grade matcha is the highest quality; it’s made specifically for use in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Young green tea leaves and buds are harvested during the Ichibancha (Japanese for "first tea") or First Harvest season, which runs from late April to May.
Younger green tea leaves have more chlorophyll compared to older green tea leaves gathered for culinary grade matcha, which is why ceremonial matcha has a brighter green color and is classed as the best quality. The flavor of ceremonial matcha is a little more subtle and nuanced than culinary matcha, and it's best enjoyed on its own rather than in lattes or other mixed drinks.
Culinary Grade Matcha
The green tea leaves used to make culinary grade matcha are harvested during Second Harvest, also known as Nibancha (Japanese for "second tea"), which occurs between June and July. These green tea leaves are older and have been exposed to more sunshine than the ceremonial grade tea leaves.
Culinary grade matcha is slightly lower quality than ceremonial matcha. It has a stronger, yet less nuanced flavor that can stand up to other ingredients. Culinary matcha is usually less expensive, and it's made to go in:
Main Flavor Notes of Matcha
What does matcha taste like? Everyone has their own interpretation of its flavor. Some describe it as earthy, grassy, sweet, or difficult to describe because it is so unique. Many people consider matcha to be too bitter. Because there are so many components that go into making matcha, it offers a wide range of flavors. The main flavor notes of matcha are:
● Vegetal/Grassy: A grassy, vegetal flavor is one of the most prevalent notes in high-quality matcha. Green tea leaves are gathered, steamed, and stone-ground into a fine powder to make matcha. When compared to other teas, the steaming procedure used in matcha produces richer vegetal notes. Matcha is generally described as having an even stronger and more concentrated green tea flavor because it is created from entire ground tea leaves.
● Sweet: Matcha has a lingering sweetness in its flavor. While a matcha latte is going to be much sweeter than pure matcha, it does have a faint sweetness that balances the tea's other strong flavors. In traditional ceremonies, it is often served alongside small sweets to enhance this part of its flavor profile. Because of this enhanceable sweetness, many people like matcha in lattes, smoothies, and baked goods.
● Bitter: Matcha is also bitter in an earthy way. High-grade matcha contains faint bitter overtones that complement the tea's sweetness and earthiness. This bitterness is caused by the high amounts of chlorophyll in the tea, which is the green pigment found in plant cells that allows photosynthesis to occur. Chlorophyll is heat sensitive and will begin to degrade if exposed to high temperatures. Matcha becomes bitter as a result of this breakdown.
Factors that Influence Matcha Flavor + Quality
The components that go into producing and preparing matcha have a strong impact on its flavor.
● Type of Water: Because of the pH level and minerals in the water, fresh spring water is preferable; it brings out the subtle flavors of matcha. Filtered water can be a decent alternative if you do not have access to fresh spring water.
● Storage: Matcha is light and air-sensitive. It can turn from vivid green to a pale yellow color and taste quite dry and bitter if stored incorrectly. When exposed to air, matcha's antioxidants break down quickly. That’s why it is critical to properly store matcha in an airtight opaque container to ensure the optimum flavor.
● Water Ratio: This is one basic factor that affects the matcha taste. You can adjust the matcha to water ratio to your liking, but too much matcha in one cup may taste overwhelming.
● Location: Though high-quality matcha is grown in Uji and Nishio, Japan, matcha is also grown in China and India, and other countries. The taste of matcha varies depending on where it was grown, since the type of soil, weather, and temperature can affect any plant’s quality.
Matcha includes nutrients from the full tea leaf, resulting in a higher concentration of caffeine and antioxidants than green tea. According to a study published in the National Library of Medicine, giving mice matcha supplementation reduced free radical damage and increased antioxidant activity.
In humans, the advantages are enormous. Matcha has a broad range of health benefits, which Zen Buddhists have known about and used for many years. Amongst its many health benefits, matcha:
● Is high in antioxidants
● Boosts metabolism and helps you lose weight
● Detoxifies in a safe and natural way
● Improves mood and concentration
● Reduces cholesterol and blood sugar levels
● Assists in liver protection
● Enhances mental performance
● Improves your cardiovascular health
● Improves your oral health
● Enhances the condition of your skin
According to Medical News Today, matcha is also great for preventing cancer, reducing the risk of heart disease, and preventing type 2 diabetes.
How To Best Prepare Your Matcha
Chawan and Chasen:
Take a spoonful of matcha and add it to your bowl.
Add hot water to your bowl. Use water that is just about to boil for the best results.
Using your matcha whisk, rapidly whisk the tea in a zigzag manner until it is frothy.
Pour the smooth matcha into your mug.
Your matcha is ready! You can now enjoy your traditional hot matcha tea.
One of the best and easiest ways to prepare your matcha is using a high-quality Matcha Infuser from Mosi Tea. It simplifies the process of making the ideal cup of matcha, at home and on the go.
You can also use the Sieve Whisk Attachment for your Mosi Tea Matcha Infuser. The matcha sieve attachment is designed for powdered green tea, latte mixes, hot chocolate, and other powdered beverages. It's FDA-approved, BPA-free, and simple to clean. It's adaptable and engineered to flawlessly blend your brew with only a few shakes.
Fill the sieve with water and add the powdered matcha.
Close the cover and brew or shake for the desired amount of time.
Your perfect cup is ready! No more messy, over-steeped matcha.