Tea 201 - What is Matcha?

Pre-Whisked Dry Matcha

Pre-Whisked Dry Matcha

Whenever I walked into a tea shop, I had always seen the bamboo whisk pictured above but could never figure out what it had to do with tea…apparently it is all in the matcha.

Matcha is a powdered green tea of the highest quality in Japan.  This type of tea is traditionally used in chanoyu/the Japanese Way of Tea.  The directions on preparing the tea are simple: add the powdered green tea to hot water, use the whisk to thoroughly mix the powder and water, drink and enjoy.  No sugar is needed.  However, if you must indulge your sweet tooth, a sweet is allowed prior to drinking the matcha as long as it complements the tea’s flavor.

There are two types of matcha: koicha/thick tea and usucha/thin tea.  The names are quite self-explanatory.  For thick tea, more tea is needed in proportion to water.  The end result is a thick creamy soup.  On the other hand, for the thin tea it is more water needed in proportion to the tea.  Then the mix is whisked together to create a light and frothy beverage.

Matcha is grown in the Uji area which is southwest of Kyoto.   The leaves are picked in early May and lightly steamed in order to prevent fermentation as well as allowing the tea to retain its vibrant green color.  The leaves are dried then stored until November when the plants are stone-grounded when needed.

When storing your matcha, be advised that you should not store it like a normal tea.  Matchas should always be stored in a freezer in either an air-tight container or plastic bag.  When you are ready to drink your matcha, you must let the powder rose to room temperature and then strain it through a fine sieve.

So little did you know that not all teas come in leaf form! What do you think, dear readers?

World Tea Expo 2010 Recap (Part 2)

The World Tea Expo held every year in Las Vegas is the world's only industry convention dedicated solely to the premium tea industry. It's not open to the public and I've been very lucky to attend the past two years!

Here's part two of this three part recap to the activities and friends from this year's expo!

Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Shincha - New Tea (Maeda-en)

Wednesday is Green Tea, White Tea, Rooibos, Oolong and Tisane (Herbal) Review Day!

Every Spring in Japan as the tea plants grow out their first leaves they're meticulously harvested for the season's most prized and celebrated beverage. Oohashiri Shincha or "New Tea" is the first tea harvest of the year and provides a rather unique taste and aroma that's simply irresistible!