What is Matcha? - Contents
- 12th century - Eisai - Kyoto
- Uji - the "home of matcha tea"
- The differences between fiber tea and portea consumption
- What is not matcha - it is important to clarify
- Two types (categories) of matcha
- The effect of matcha tea
- How much of it can I consume?
- How do I choose between the different portéas?
- How do I store matcha?
- The tea ceremony
A matcha grown and processed in a special way (partially by shading the tea plant), ground to a powder, Japan origin green tea (version). Zen Buddhist monks started consuming it in the 9th century to support their meditation.
You can find our matcha teas here in the webshop. Visit us at our tea shop on Nagyszombat Street, where you can taste them!
Matcha is an essence, a special tea powder that has been used in the Japanese tea ceremony (Cha no Yu 茶の湯 or Cha Do (Sa Do) 茶道) for more than 1000 years. It is mixed with water using a bamboo brush (Japanese: chasen) and consumed ceremonially, usually from a beautiful tea bowl (Japanese: chawan). Nowadays, matcha also appears in other drinks and desserts, but this is not the 'ceremony' matcha, but the so-called 'kitchen' matcha, which is cultivated and processed in a completely different way.
A brief history of matcha tea
The custom of mixing powdered tea with water and drinking it was brought from China to Japan in the 7th century through the mediation of Zen Buddhist monks.
Tea plants were not shaded in China, so at that time it could have been a completely different taste and color of tea - than what we now know as Japanese Matcha tea. Maybe it could have been a little closer to the white tea type.
12th century - Eisai - Kyoto
Sweet-tasting matcha tea from shaded plantations is a true "Japanese invention".
For a long time, it spread only in temple and royal circles in Japan, and it had to wait a few hundred years for it to become more popular.
In the 12th century, a Zen monk named Eisai - who also returned home from a study trip in China - also wrote a book about the beneficial physiological effects of tea (titled 'Kissa Youjoki' = 'Tea for health') and also planted tea bushes in several places in the country, including between in Toganoo near Kyoto, where the Kozan-ji temple and its tea garden can still be seen today.
This beautiful place also has a personal aspect for us - in addition to the fact that we visited it in 2019: the care of this historic tea garden is entrusted to the 'Yoshida' family, whose matcha teas you can meet and taste here. you can find it here.
As a result of Eisai's tea book, the consumption of matcha began to spread, but only among the upper classes.
Uji - the "home of matcha tea"
Soon, tea bushes were also planted in Uji, taking advantage of the favorable tea-growing conditions here.
The rich held tea competitions and blind tastings where Uji tea - as the "real tea" (hon-cha) - had to be selected from the others, which were simply called "non-tea" (hi-cha).
Even today, Uji tea is one of the most prestigious of all production areas.
The matcha ceremony was reformed in the 16th century by 'Sen no Rikyu' - a tea master with great influence in ruling circles - who broke with luxurious customs and returned to naturalness. He prioritized simple beauty over striving for perfection. This became 'wabi sabi', the refined, almost melancholic feeling of life. This also appeared in the simpler tea tools and the puritan design of the tea room. Book review about wabi sabi here.
The differences between fiber tea and portea consumption
One of the main differences between the consumption of fiber teas and matcha (powdered tea) is that with matcha you consume almost the entire leaf, while with fiber tea you make a brew that is filtered.
Almost, because the woody parts of the leaf are removed and the tender part of the leaf is used when grinding the tea. (This is called 'tenchato ')
Today, it is starting to spread all over the world and is gaining more and more popularity - as an important element of health care. Well-known coffee and ice cream companies made it fashionable in the 20th century, but due to the high volume demand, it cannot be the same as the tea intended for tea ceremonies by small producers.
Matcha tea to replace coffee?
Many people use it as a substitute for coffee, to invigorate and consume it daily, enjoying the peace of their daily little ritual.
A new category was thus born: the 'kitchen', i.e. 'culinary grade' matches. They can be used creatively for lattes, drinks, sweets, for example.
Both have their place in the world, but those who are even a little bit open to Japanese culture should definitely start with traditional matcha. Here, too, there is a choice: it is worth trying more and asking tea shops for advice and information about the origin, harvest date and place of production of the matcha tea sold there.
We are not matcha – it is important to clarify
Matcha is not yet a protected product of origin. (But the Japanese are working on it with our knowledge.)
Green tea powder from countries outside of Japan or from Japan is not matcha, they have different processing steps. In Japanese, it has a separate name: 'funmatsucha'.
The raw material of matcha is the so-called 'tencha' (*see below) which is not rolled and does not contain stems or other leaf parts apart from the flesh of the leaf. Green tea powder, on the other hand, is ground green tea.
It can be good in cookies, but when consumed on its own, we can expect a much more bitter "experience" than matcha.
In addition, we cannot call it matcha, which contains any coloring agents, milk powder, or sugar. The green color of matcha is solely the result of shaded cultivation and careful processing.
Two types (categories) of matcha
Matcha can therefore be divided into two main categories:
1. Ceremony matcha
Carefully processed, ground from tencha, of pure origin. It is intended for self-consumption only. (anything else added just hides its values) It is ground with slow-rotating granite mills.
There is also a selection within this category, which is determined only by individual taste or the contents of our wallet.
Some make thin tea (usucha), some make thick tea (koicha), and some make both.
Among the ceremony matchas, those that stand out Uji(Kyoto Prefecture) are from.
They usually surpass their counterparts from other production areas in terms of richness of taste.
Although tea farmers in several other growing areas of Japan try to make tea rich in umami and surprising specialties are born.
Matcha tea "blends"
There can be big differences in taste and aroma between the various tea blends and mixtures. It depends on what level of tea the maker or producer intends it to be. For entry-level, everyday matcha, or almost exclusively for festive tea, for special occasions.
Can it be used to make koicha (thick tea) or just usucha, or is it suitable for both? They all determine the price of matcha tea.
2. Kitchen matcha
It can be said that it is an industrially grown and processed product.
Here, too, we find several categories that can be very different in color and taste.
It is not ground with slow-rotating granite mills, but in a different way, in a kind of mixer - that's why it usually has coarser grains than ceremony matcha.
First, the flavors are compiled from leaves from different places, and then the whole thing is ground. This happens in larger quantities.
This mixture is usually invented for sweet, milky drinks, so it can taste more bitter on its own. Here too, it is worth tasting and comparing more to find the right one for us.
Our porta for desserts, matcha lattes and other drinks can be found here.
How is matcha tea made? (tea ceremony tea)
Before picking approx. They shade the entire tea plantation for 2-3 weeks. (in tea, "great treasure" is the same with "gyokuro").
This slows down photosynthesis, resulting in a beautiful green color and leaves rich in Theanine amino acid. Because of this, it will have a full-bodied, multi-voiced, sweet taste.
Usually the time of harvest beginning, middle of May. They are harvested by hand or by machine. (only the best matcha comes from manual picking) The short steaming (15-20 seconds) typical of Japanese teas follows, which helps to preserve the bright green color of the leaves and their inner content. they are not rolled and crushed, but slowly, spread out in several stages, cooled and dried, and turned over in a drum-like machine, where the stems and leaf veins are separated from the leaf flesh. The remaining leaf flesh is collected: this is called 'tenchato '. So this will be the base of matcha.
Tencha, the raw material of matcha powder
Tencha for several months they rest and store (because it is still too fresh, raw), then the leaves from the different growing areas are mixed in a specific ratio (this is done by an experienced mixing master), and finally they are ground with slow-rotating granite mills (preferably in the dark), usually only upon order.
Tencha is very sensitive, light and heat can weaken its quality.
After grinding, the size of the particles will be around 5-10 microns. (1 mm = 1000 micron) A granite mill grinds just one box of tea in 1 hour, i.e. 40 gr.
Matcha is almost always a mixture of leaves from different areas and/or plant varieties. (blend)
A ceremony matcha and even within this, they are independent small masterpieces assembled by a master with great expertise.
In line with this, they even gave him a stage name.
The effect of matcha tea
You shouldn't expect miracles from just consuming matcha, if you don't make other lifestyle changes.
Proper nutrition, exercise, thinking and rest are equally important.
Nevertheless, the beneficial effects are not negligible. E.g.:
- Extremely high antioxidant content (catechins)
- Its invigorating effect lasts longer due to the slower absorption of caffeine
- We can also feel its slightly calming effect due to the amino acid L-Theanine in it
- The content of vitamin C, vitamin E and minerals is also not negligible
- Contains useful fibers (since we eat the whole leaf)
- It speeds up the metabolism
How much of it can I consume?
1-2 times a day - the amount we recommend. This means one and a half to two grams of matcha per serving. (koicha4,5-5 grams!).
It's worth eating a little food beforehand, because the rawness of matcha can strain digestion, especially for people with sensitive stomachs or people who are otherwise cold.
In addition, pay attention to the consumption of a sufficient amount of water! (this is also true in general)
How do I choose between the different portéas?
We can often see the word "matcha" on any green tea ground into a powder, with no indication of origin or quality, which has a bitter taste and is yellowish-brown or gray in color. We avoid those!
Choose a matcha that from a reliable source, its origin can be traced and we may also receive some background information about the manufacturer, producer or place of production of the product.
It should preferably be within the 1 year warranty period.
As mentioned above, matcha is not the same for lattes, desserts or for consumption on its own.
This is a very important aspect.
We recommend that you visit a tea shop for tea and avoid the "green tea powders" that are sold hot on the shelves of large stores.
Preparation of matcha tea – Balázs made a video, you can watch it on YouTube.
We have already discussed above that when we make matcha, we consume the whole (stemless) tea leaf, along with all of its content.
Ceremony matcha: 75-80 degrees Celsius, clean spring water or filtered water should be used to prepare it! (Norda; Nestlé Vera; Szigetközi mineral water; Lajosforrás water, etc.) It is important that the water used for tea has a low (60-200 mg/l.) mineral content.
The tools needed to make it: bamboo brush (chasen), (with brush holder), bamboo spoon (chasaku) and a bowl for making matcha (chawan). Maybe a densely woven sieve.
In the store, I found a Matcha set that contains all the necessary tools needed to make Matcha.
Preheat the chawan, swirl the brush in the warm water. Wipe the dish dry. Measure the right amount of matcha:
Usucha or Koicha?
Dilute tea - Usucha
1,5-2 grams of tea powder (1,5 chashaku) and 70 ml of water.
Thick tea - Koicha
3-4 grams of tea powder and 50 ml of water. (only the tea specifically recommended by the manufacturer for making koicha should be prepared in the latter way.)
If you have the means, sift the tea powder, if you don't have it, you can make a paste with less water (this is not a traditional preparation method, but it can be used to prevent lumps).
If the water has got on the tea, with a relaxed shoulder, loose but quick wrist movement, write a "W" pattern with the brush, approx. Stir the tea with water for 20-30 seconds until frothy. Don't press your brush too hard on the bottom of the chawan, just touch it gently.
Rinse after use clean our bamboo brush with clean water and place it on the holder so that its shape remains beautiful for a long time.
Let's drink our tea carefully!
When we are done with tea, let's clean our tea-making tools, our chawan. Put the brush back in its holder to keep its shape for a long time.
How do I store matcha?
It must be protected from light, heat, moisture and odors! It is only worth keeping in the refrigerator if it cannot absorb other smells and then we have time to wait until it warms up to room temperature before consumption. Otherwise, the moisture in the air will condense on the micron-sized, cold pieces of leaves.
Matcha tea – and all teas – reacts sensitively to environmental influences.
The tea ceremony
The goal is to experience the moment as fully as possible. Hospitality, making tea for the guest.
Its basic principles are the XVI. since the century:
harmony (和 wa), respect (敬 kei), purity (clear six) and calmness (寂 yaku)
Every little detail counts: the colors, the sounds, the tools, the seasonal message of the wall scroll, etc.
The Japanese tea ceremony always highlights the simple beauty and depth of the present moment. There can be a shorter tea gathering (chakai (茶会) or a more formal, longer tea event (chaji (茶事). The latter includes a multi-course meal and serves thick tea (koicha) and later thin tea (usucha).
(It is also possible to study tea ceremony in Hungary. At the Hungarian representative of one of the largest Japanese tea schools, the He's a gentleman at school.)
Japanese tea ceremony can be learned in schools created for this purpose and under Japanese supervision worldwide.
If we want to create our own (non-traditional) small tea ceremony, then we should prepare for it: date, tools, undisturbed environment, dedicated time, good tea, phone set aside.
First of all, let's examine and define for ourselves what our internal environment is like.
Let's start paying attention to our breathing, posture, and movements.
Don't think it's easy or self-evident!
A very small percentage of our daily functioning, including speech and body movements, is conscious.
If we have awareness of the body and the internal environment, then we try to keep all of this and let the external environment in as well: sounds, sights, smells.
We try to keep all of this while making matcha.
Experiencing this more deeply is a matter of long practice. A nice road.
A couple of interesting articles from our website, as well as a recommendation for matcha tea: