If you're like many tea enthusiasts, learning about the origins of your favorite teas as well as how they're produced adds to the overall experience. If you've recently discovered ceremonial-grade matcha tea, you'll be excited to know that the production of this particular tea begins with the selection of the finest tea leaves. The best quality matcha comes from a tea plant variety known as camellia sinensis, specifically grown in Japan's most favorable tea-growing regions.
Here's how matcha is made.
Shading the Tea Plants
Approximately three weeks before the harvest, the tea plants destined to become matcha are shaded. This process significantly reduces the exposure of the plants to sunlight, enhancing the chlorophyll content and lending a vibrant green color to the leaves. This shading process also boosts the production of amino acids, primarily L-theanine, which gives matcha its distinctive, umami-rich taste.
Harvesting by Hand
The harvesting process is equally important in the creation of ceremonial-grade organic matcha. Unlike other teas, matcha leaves are carefully hand-picked. Only the finest, youngest leaves are selected, as these provide the highest quality and richest flavor.
Steaming and Air-Drying
Immediately after harvest, the leaves are steamed to prevent oxidation, which preserves the bright green color and nutrients. The steamed leaves are then air-dried. At this stage, the stems and veins are meticulously removed to ensure the final product is as fine and smooth as possible.
The Grinding Process
The remaining leaf material, now called "tencha," is then ground into a fine powder using granite stone mills. This process is slow and labor-intensive, but it's crucial for achieving the fine texture that matcha is renowned for.
Packaging and Storing
Finally, the matcha powder is carefully packaged to preserve its freshness and quality. Proper storage is essential for maintaining the vibrant color, rich taste, and aromatic scent of the matcha. For best results, you should store your matcha in a cool, dark place and consume it within a few weeks of opening.
Preparing Your Ceremonial-Grade Organic Matcha
Now that your ceremonial-grade organic matcha has made the journey from plant to cup, it's time for you to enjoy it. Heat water to just below boiling, and add a few drops to your matcha powder to create a paste. Then, add more hot water and whisk until frothy. Sip, savor, and enjoy the fruits of this labor-intensive process. Matcha can also be used to make iced tea and even used as a culinary ingredient in a variety of tasty treats.
Contact a ceremonial-grade matcha supplier to learn more.