NEW Bright Eyed sachets are now available!     SHOP TODAY!

What is Matcha?



MATCHA HISTORY

The origins of this unique tea can actually be traced back to China during the Song Dynasty (960 – 1279 C.E.). During this time, Zen Buddhists started making a powdered tea from a shade-grown green tea called ”Gyokuro.” After steaming and drying the tea, they plucked the leaves — called “tencha” — and ground them into a powder called “matcha” (抹茶).

It wasn’t until 1191 that a Zen monk named Eisai went to Japan and introduced matcha. Matcha slowly lost its popularity in China over the following centuries, but the Japanese embraced it and made it an important part of rituals in Zen monasteries. As they integrated matcha into their own culture, the Japanese continued to change and perfect their own unique process of creating matcha.

That said, matcha was extremely difficult to produce, so only the shogun and the high nobility could drink it. But in 1738, Sohen Nagatani invented the Uji method to make matcha green tea, a far more efficient process that’s still in use today. After the invention of the Uji method, matcha green tea saw wider adoption across Japanese culture.

THE TRADITIONS AND CULTURE OF MATCHA GREEN TEA

In addition to a long and rich history, matcha boasts a vibrant set of traditions, rituals, and culture.

The Chinese Zen Buddhists who first created matcha could sense the benefits of the tea. They believed that drinking it brought them clarity, mental focus, and calm, and it became an integral part of their meditation. In Japan, Samurai warriors also sensed the power of the tea, drinking matcha before a fight to improve energy and focus. And all of this makes sense: modern studies have shed light on the chemical properties that give matcha its unique ability to raise energy levels without generating anxiety.

The samurai warriors also understood the power of the tea and it’s believed that they would drink matcha before fighting a battle for more energy and focus.

In addition to traditional applications, matcha also has a unique set of rituals attached to its preparation. Traditionally, matcha is brewed and presented in a performance-based tea ceremony called chanoyu (茶の湯). To an outsider, the process seems simple – but it’s incredibly precise and detailed. It takes nearly ten years for a master to learn the matcha tea ceremony perfectly.

Every movement of the ceremony is prescribed and choreographed down to the most minute detail, all with a strong focus on spirituality, serenity, and silence. It’s about complete focus in the present and being immersed in every single motion – a perfect embodiment of the Zen Buddhist tradition from which matcha came.

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony rests on four core principles: harmony (和), respect (敬), purity (清), and tranquility (寂). And with such a flavorful taste and luxurious texture, the matcha green tea powder deepens the calming and meditative aspects of the ritual, providing a perfect accompaniment to Zen Buddhist practice.

Matcha Today

In our fast-paced modern world, having your own tea ceremony with an invigorating cup of matcha green tea could be the perfect way to step out from the craziness of the world to enjoy some “me time” and relaxation.

THE EQUIPMENT YOU’LL NEED FOR YOUR OWN TEA CEREMONY ARE:

Tea bowl (茶碗, chawan)

Tea whisk (茶筅, chasen)

Tea spoon (茶杓, chashaku)

Tea cloth (茶巾, chakin)

Tea caddy (棗, natsume)

Great matcha, like Matchasticks, Ippodo or Haru No Ko, will have this signature, bright green color. Lesser matchas won’t be this amazing shade. They’ll still be green, but the color itself will include more yellow or brown. This discoloration comes from the oxidization of the matcha. You’ll even notice high-quality matchas picking up these colors if you don’t store your tea properly. Exposure to light, heat, and air can taint matcha’s amazing color. Therefore, fresher, high-quality matchas that have been handled properly and swiftly will have a more vibrant green color.

ART OF TEA MATCHA:

At Art of Tea, we offer two types of matcha—ceremonial and culinary. Ceremonial Matcha is primarily from Japan. It is typically stone grounded into a fine powder producing a brighter green hue. The powder is whisked back and forth rapidly to create frothiness when preparing. Ceremonial Matcha has a grassy taste with a sweet undertone. Grade A Matcha, on the other hand, is the matcha used in cooking and is added in lattes and iced teas.

Matcha Preparation Tips

Matcha is an elegant and inviting tea and offers up a lush and smooth feel on the palate with a refreshing grassy taste that leaves behind a deep, lingering finish.

For traditional Matcha preparation:

1. Preheat the tea bowl with boiling water. Discard and moisten the chasen (tea whisk).
2. Scoop 2 grams* of powdered green tea (matcha) and add approximately one teacup of hot water.
3. Hold the bowl firmly with one hand and whisk with the chasen from left to right to form frothy bubbles. Whisk the Matcha well and break up any small lumps with the tip of your whisk. This assures the most optimal flavor and a smooth and creamy texture.
4. Hold the chasen in the middle of your foam, and allow the liquid in the chasen to draw off, and gently remove the whisk.

*1/4 teaspoon per 6-8oz of water

For Matchasticks on the go preparation:

1. For a single serving of matcha, fill Matcha Shaker with freshly drawn water.

2. Leave about 1-inch of space in the bottle.

3. Add contents of one Matchastick.

4. Close bottle tightly and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.

5. Remove lid and filter before pouring into a glass or enjoy matcha from Matcha Shaker.

*We do not recommend using hot water in our Matcha Shaker.

 

Best enjoyed when frothed and fully whisked.

Water Temperature: 180 F degrees

Steep Time: 3 min

Suggested Serving Size: 1/4 tsp per 6-8oz of water.

Additional Art of Tea Tip: Whisk the Matcha well with a Bamboo whisk and break up any small lumps with the tip of your whisk while whisking tea. This assures the most optimal flavor and a smooth and creamy texture.