All matcha is green tea. However, all green tea is not matcha. Matcha is a powdered steamed green tea milled with the natural stone ground. Speaking of matcha, I can’t help thinking of Japan, but its origin is not from Japan, but China.
The origin and development of matcha.
Matcha tea originated from the Sui and Tang dynasties in China (circa 7-10 centuries). Because of its complicated production process, matcha tea was only enjoyed by the royal family and nobles at that time. In the continuous development of planting and milling technology, it has brought better matcha quality, which has also greatly increased the production speed and reduced production costs. The matcha, which was a luxury product at that time, went to the general public and became a trend at the time. During this period, Japan sent envoys to study in China. Among them, including tea culture, although Japanese envoys brought Chinese tea culture back to Japan, Japanese culture began to develop gradually and entered a stage of independent development. The tea ceremony introduced into Japan stagnated until the Shogunate period, Master Eisai came to China twice, bringing back tea seeds and methods, while studying Buddhist scriptures, Zen Eisai devoted himself to the study of tea ceremony in his spare time and promoted the tea ceremony as a ritual of meditation in his monk community. He slowly spread the matcha culture to other regions and was the first person to truly spread the matcha culture to Japan. Since then, matcha has become popular in Japan, and a more systematic ritual has gradually formed. Coupled with Japan’s ultimate research on matcha, it has evolved into its national essence. Japanese monks brought Chinese matcha culture into their homes, gradually developed their own culture and passed it on very well, but during this period China lost it. This’s why I think of Japan when I mention matcha.
Benefits of matcha
Everyone says that drinking a cup of matcha is equivalent to drinking 10 cups of steeped green tea. Although the nutritional value of ordinary tea is already very high, the water-soluble portion of tea is only 35%, and other water-insoluble ingredients are thrown away as tea grounds. Drink matcha tea and you will eat the whole piece of tea, completely absorbing the nutrition of the tea. Matcha is rich in tea polyphenols, catechins, vitamins, trace elements, folic acid, and dietary fiber, and matcha itself is alkaline, if you drink it for a long time, you can also adjust the pH of the body. Matcha also has high antioxidant content, especially catechins. The most powerful of catechins is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has antioxidant effects, stabilizes cells, and promotes recovery speed. Studies show that the content of antioxidants in matcha is 137 times that of ordinary tea. I can’t find a healthy and delicious drink like matcha without any additives, pesticides and heavy metals.
The significance of matcha
Of course, drinking matcha is not only good for the body, but it is also a consolation to my soul. It is very particular about the process of drinking matcha, and it contains a lot of skills, which is more like an art, it’s full of fun. If you want to drink a good cup of matcha, you can’t take it too fast, this makes my mind gradually calm down with every movement of the body. When the finished product is displayed in front of my eyes, take a sip and enjoy it, the scent of fragrance found the natural self. In the fast-developing modern society, the tranquility and peace that matcha brings to me are invaluable. While drinking matcha, I have been constantly exposed to Japanese tea culture, and I am obsessed with tea culture, not only enjoying the health benefits of matcha, but also self-cultivation, cultivating sentiment, and matcha is a gift from nature.
What is the difference between matcha and green tea?
Although both matcha and green tea are derived from the leaves of tea plants, they are cultivated and processed differently.
The differences between matcha and green tea include the following 5 aspects:
1. Raw materials:
Matcha has high requirements for raw materials. It requires teas with high amino acid, protein, and chlorophyll content, and low levels of caffeine. Before picking, there are strict requirements on the picking time and leaf size of fresh tea leaves. The cultivated tea trees are also very particular, the tea tree is planted by clone propagation technology to ensure the purity of the tea tree variety.
2. Harvest season:
The growth time of matcha tea is relatively short, only about 50 days. The quality of tea harvested in May is the best, and ordinary green tea can be harvested in March and April.
3. Shade growth:
In the process of cultivating matcha tea, it is also necessary to shade the tea tree, usually covering it for up to 20 days before harvesting. A study by Japanese scholar Yoshiko Takei showed: “Covering and shading changed environmental factors such as light intensity, light quality, and temperature, which affected the formation of the aroma quality of tea. Open-air tea does not contain B-santalol, benzoic acid and its esters, except for the higher content of lower aliphatic compounds, the content of other aroma components is significantly lower than that of shaded tea. ” The chlorophyll and amino acids of the covered green tea leaves increased significantly. Carotenoids were 1.5 times that of open-air cultivation, and the total amino acids were 1.4 times that of natural light cultivation, and chlorophyll was 1.6 times that of natural light cultivation.
Fresh tea picked on the day should be steamed on the same day. After steaming the shade tea, not only the aroma is special, the color is bright, but the taste will be more delicious. Green tea is processed differently, green tea is parched.
Petioles and veins need to be removed from steamed tea and then placed in a 45 ° ventilation environment to dry again. After drying, it is roughly cut into tea powder. At this time, fine matcha powder is obtained by grinding with a stone mill. The stone mill itself has poor thermal conductivity, and it is not easy to generate heat during the milling process, which will not cause the chlorophyll in the matcha ingredients to decompose.
How to know if matcha is good quality？
- Color: Matcha is steamed green tea with deep green color, it is a vibrant green color. The greener the color, the better the quality.
- Fineness: Matcha powder smaller than 10 microns has good quality. The best quality is the fineness of entering the pores (about 2 microns). If it is applied on the back of the hand, it will all enter the skin pores, leaving nothing left.
- Aroma: It smells a little scent of seaweed. The better the quality of matcha, the more delicate and elegant the aroma, without any odor.
- Taste: Sweet taste, no astringent, a little bitter. If it’s too bitter, the quality of the matcha is likely too poor.
How to buy and store?
To prevent the color and flavor of matcha from being reduced by contact with oxygen, it should be consumed as soon as possible after purchase. The storage period should not exceed 1 year. If it is opened, it should be consumed within 1 month. The best storage time is usually 3-5 months and should be stored in a cool and dry place. To ensure that the matcha you eat is fresh, you should buy it from a reputable brand company. Here is a guide to buying matcha.
How to choose different grades of matcha？
Markets outside Japan divide matcha into ceremonial and culinary grades. Classification of ceremonial and culinary grades is not used in Japan and is not regulated.
- Ceremonial grade: The ceremonial grade is the high quality of matcha. Ceremonial grade matcha does not need to add anything. It can be mixed directly into hot water and enjoyed alone to show the highest level of matcha flavor. It comes from the youngest tea leaves when first picked.
- Culinary grade: Culinary grade matcha can also be enjoyed alone as a healthy drink (the taste is worse than the ceremonial grade, with a richer, more astringent flavor), its more value is added to various cuisines as ingredients to make matcha Latte, matcha ice cream, matcha biscuits, matcha cakes, matcha pudding, etc. If you are a food lover, obviously culinary grade matcha will give you more options, and of course, it is more affordable.