Japanese matcha tea used to accompany the tea ceremony, and is now gaining popularity as a milk drink around the world. In 2015, American newspapers began to write about the "tea madness" - matcha began to spread quickly on social networks. There are two reasons for this: first, a cup of bright green drink looks "instagrammable" , and secondly — it is useful.
Someone drinks matcha because of the benefits, someone likes the unusual taste of umami, which the Japanese distinguish in a separate category. Regardless of the reasons, the popularity of the drink continues to grow around the world: it is on the menu of almost every cafe and coffee shop.
Let's learn more about this ambiguous tea.
What is matcha and how is it prepared
Matcha is made from the leaves of Camelia sinensis tea-the same bushes from which ordinary green tea is harvested. Only for the preparation of matcha, they are shaded — they cover the plantation with a dark net a month before the harvest. This reduces sunlight by up to 90 %, slows down growth, and makes the leaves darker. These leaves contain more chlorophyll, which gives the matcha a bright green color.
Depending on the processing, two different varieties of tea are produced after harvesting — gyokuro and tencha:
gyokuro is obtained when the leaves are twisted and dried;
tencha is obtained if the leaves are dried straight and ground.
Only tencha serves as the basis for matcha powder tea, because it is this treatment that gives a bright green color.
For the production of matcha, the leaves are dried in traditional ovens — so they retain more amino acids. This makes the tea sweeter and healthier.
The dried leaves are removed from the stems, veins, and ground into a bright green powder, similar to talc. It can take an hour to grind 30 grams of matcha.
Expensive varieties of matcha are valued for the taste of young and soft leaves, in which all the nutrients are concentrated. They have a more intense sweet taste and a deep aroma. The leaves for them are collected at the beginning of the season. Cheaper varieties are made from more developed hard leaves, which give the tea a sandy structure.
There are three varieties of matcha:
Ceremonial is the most expensive variety. The leaves are almost always ground with a stone. The grinding process is labor-intensive and labor-intensive, so the price for this variety is higher. It is consumed without additives. Served during the tea ceremony with dried fruits or Japanese sweets.
Premium quality-cheaper than the ceremonial grade. Contains the most young leaves for freshness. Its taste is not as rich, sweet or bitter as that of the ceremonial variety. Therefore, it is drunk everywhere.
Culinary-the cheapest variety. It is used in the food industry for adding to various dishes: desserts, ice cream, pastries. The color of this tea is dark green, swampy. It has an intense bitter taste.