Matcha tea is made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant. This green tea is first ground into a powder until you can consume it. Matcha tea has many health benefits such as improving your mood, maintaining your overall concentration and bringing your body and mind back into balance. With this matcha guide you will learn everything about matcha tea. We give you the history, tell you about the harvest and production and explain how to recognize good quality matcha. You will also learn more about Japanese tea ceremonies and how to prepare a perfect matcha tea.
The rich history of matcha tea
Matcha originated in China. Here, between the years 600 and 900, the specific way of preparing matcha tea was developed. The first evidence of tea reaching Japanese shores dates back to the Heian period of the 8th and 9th centuries. The Buddhist monks Kukai and Saicho are said to be the first men to bring tea seeds to Japan. A later account mentions that in 815 AD, the Buddhist monk Eichu served green tea to Saga, the then emperor of Japan. Unique for that time, Eichu prepared unpressed and unpowdered green leaves and presented them to the emperor. This was the beginning of the preparation of green tea, but very different from what it is prepared today: the process of making that tea was many years away.
In the twelfth century AD, powdered green tea caught the attention of Myōan Eisai. Because of his dissatisfaction with the state of Buddhism in Japan, he made two trips to China. During his first trip he studied the principles of Chan - later translated into "Zen" in Japanese - and later became a certified Zen Buddhist. However, as far as tea is concerned, his second voyage was more successful. Along with some Zen writings, he also brought tea seeds to Japan and the process of producing powdered green tea - or matcha tea - officially began. Over the centuries, Matcha tea has become part of Japanese culture and that is how the famous Japanese tea ceremony came into being. You can read more about this later in this article.
Matcha tea - Harvest and production
Matcha is made from ground tea leaves. But how do harvesting and production work? Before the tea is harvested, the Camellia sinensis tea plants are covered in Japan. This allows them to grow in the shade for the last four weeks before harvest. This is done so that the amount of chlorophyll in the leaf is increased, which provides the beautiful green color in the tea. Then the leaves are picked, steamed and dried. The stems and veins are also removed, so that you are left with nothing but “Tencha”, or the “meat”. The Tencha is ground into a fine powder. This sounds simple, but it isn't. It takes no less than seven hours to make 100 grams of matcha tea.
A brief summary of the steps of the matcha production process:
The tea plants are covered four weeks before harvest. A special shade technology blocks 90% of the sunlight. The leaves become a lot greener.
2. First harvest in the spring
The Tencha are picked in the spring. Because this is the first harvest, these are the youngest and strongest leaves with a high quality tea.
3. Steam and dry
The tea leaves are steamed and then left to dry.
The Tencha is ground with a "grinder" into green powder. This grinding can take up to seven hours.
Japanese tea ceremony with matcha tea
In the past it was only possible in Japan, but now it is possible anywhere in the world to participate in a Japanese tea ceremony or to hold one yourself. The highlight of a tea ceremony is the preparation of matcha. This is because making matcha tea takes quite a lot of time before you have a perfect balance in taste. During a Japanese tea ceremony in which you drink matcha tea, the following steps are discussed:
● Scoop about 1-2 spoonfuls of matcha powder into a sieve
● Sift the matcha powder evenly over a bowl while shaking
● Boil water to about 80°C (otherwise matcha will become bitter)
● Add 80 to 100ml of hot water to the bowl
● With a bamboo tea beater, beat the tea in an M movement until a nice foam layer is created
Because you take a lot of time to prepare matcha tea , this is also part of meditation. After the gentle stirring and even greening of the tea, becoming Zen follows automatically. Mindfulness also plays a major role during a Japanese tea ceremony: you become aware of life in the here and now and of the beauty of simple things.
Matcha tea of different qualities
Matcha is becoming increasingly popular and the supply is growing enormously as a result. But that does not mean that every matcha has the same quality. While the quality is the most important for an ultimate experience. As you could read in "Harvest and production", making matcha is a very intensive labor process. That is why matcha is also a lot more expensive than regular tea. At some point, to meet the high demand, Japanese farmers started harvesting the matcha by machine. This can be done several times a year and unfortunately this does not benefit the taste: it becomes much too bitter. Traditional matcha, on the other hand, is only harvested once a year to allow the bush to rest. Machine-harvested matcha is therefore of lower quality than traditionally harvested matcha.
How do you choose the right matcha?
So you have matcha in different qualities. But how do you recognize a good matcha? By paying attention to:
For example, a good matcha has a bright green color and there are no brownish or yellowish tones. The deeper green, the better the quality. The scent is slightly sweet with vegetable undertones. A good matcha is absolutely not too bitter. If you move matcha between your fingers, the matcha should have a silky smooth texture. Any lumps will fall apart immediately. So if you feel something rough or grainy, the matcha is of a lower quality.
In addition, make sure that no other substances have been added. Sometimes substances are added to imitate the bright green color. The price is also important to keep in mind if you are looking for a high quality matcha. For example, if you see in a webshop that 100 grams of matcha is offered for ten euros, then you can assume that you are not getting matcha of good quality.
Preparing your own matcha
You can quickly make an “ordinary” cup of tea. Preparing matcha tea, on the other hand, is a bit different and takes a lot longer. In any case, you need a bamboo whisk to froth the tea. These tips can also help you make the perfect matcha tea:
Use mineral water
Tap water is full of lime, which can make the matcha taste like soap. Therefore, brew the matcha tea with mineral water so that all the beautiful flavors are preserved.
Make sure the water is a maximum of 80 degrees
The colder the water, the better the taste comes out of the matcha. For one cup of matcha tea, use 2 scoops of matcha tea and 100 ml of water.
Heat the bamboo beater
To prevent the needles in your matcha from breaking off while beating, first use the whisk to add some warm water.
Set up Kentsui
A kentsui is a bowl to dispose of waste water that you used to preheat your bowl and beater. This is not necessarily necessary, but it is done in traditional Japanese tea ceremonies.
There is a lot to say about matcha tea, but also (still) a lot to ask. That is why we have listed the most frequently asked questions about matcha tea for you.
Can matcha tea help with weight loss?
If you maintain a poor diet, the toxins build up in your body and eventually lead to weight gain. Detoxification - or detoxing - can actually lead to weight loss. Matcha tea can certainly help with this. Matcha is rich in antioxidants that help flush out harmful toxins from your body. It also contributes to improving your digestion, preventing constipation and your health in general. Of course, this always goes in combination with a healthy diet.
What kind of taste does matcha have?
Matcha has a strong taste, you really have to love it. One finds matcha tea tastes like spinach and another finds it nice and bitter with a soft and sweet aftertaste. But in general, a good quality matcha has a sweet and savory (umami) taste. In addition, the amino acid L-Theanine gives the matcha tea its characteristic taste. Have you purchased matcha tea of a lower quality? Then there is less L-Theanine present in it and the matcha as a whole tastes much too bitter.
How much matcha is needed for one cup?
For one cup of matcha tea you need 2 scoops of matcha tea - with a special matcha spoon - and 100 ml of water.
Can you also drink matcha tea cold?
Of course! Make this matcha iced tea and enjoy a nice cooling on a hot day.
- 150 ml of cold water
- 3 scoops of matcha
- 2 lemons
- A few sprigs of mint
- Sparkling water
- Handful of ice cubes
This is how you make it:
- Grab a bowl and mix the water with the 3 scoops of matcha
- Beat the matcha with a matcha beater until you no longer see any lumps
- Wash the twigs of mint and cut the lemons into slices. Put this in a large glass jug of about 2 liters
- Now pour the matcha into the jug. Then add the carbonated water
In what ways can I add matcha to a drink?
There are endless ways to add matcha to a tasty drink. We have already published many recipes about this. Think for example of a healthy slush , green smoothie with matcha and celery or a turmeric latte . Incidentally, there are also a lot of tasty lattes to make with matcha. Just take a look at the recipes for a protein café latte with matcha and the popular Dalgona Matcha Latte .
How do you prepare matcha if you don't have a beater?
A matcha beater helps you to easily dissolve the matcha powder and produces a foam layer that makes the matcha tea taste even sweeter. However, if you do not have a beater in your possession or if you want to quickly make a “matcha on the go”, this is also possible. Just make sure you have high quality pure matcha. This dissolves easily and prevents lumps from forming.
Instead of a beater you now just use a thermos. Put a few scoops of matcha in your thermos and add the recommended amount of water. Twist the cap on your thermos and shake well. Now you have a delicious matcha "on the go" for which you did not have to use a beater.
Can I drink matcha before bed?
Opinions are divided on this. One says that it is better not to take it in the evening because of the caffeine because you will not fall asleep. While another says that the caffeine content in matcha tea is much lower than a cup of coffee. We therefore advise you to try it out sometime. Maybe you have a sleepless night, but then you know it right away. Of course it may also be that you can handle it!
How should I prepare matcha tea?
Put 1 gram of matcha in a bowl and pour 1 to 2 ml of cold water over it. Stir with the bamboo beater until all lumps have dissolved and the matcha has become a green paste. Now add 100 ml of a maximum temperature of 70°C and beat the matcha firmly with the bamboo beater. Also view our clear video on Instagram in which you see how to prepare matcha tea.