What is Matcha Powdered Green Tea? Unequaled in quality, Matcha has been used in Zen Buddhist ceremonies for over 800 years. It was the drink of nobles in the Japanese court, and is still the primary tea used in the ancient art of the Japanese tea ceremony. In Japan, a nation where green tea is served with every meal and available in every restaurant, Matcha is considered the highest quality and most flavorful of all green teas. It can be instantly recognized by its distinctive, brilliant green hue.
Matcha's unique and powerful taste? Matcha has a rich, smooth flavor unique among all other green teas. It has its own natural sweetness, with just a hint of astringency. The sweetness comes from the naturally occurring L-theanine amino acids and plant fibers. Green tea powder, on the other hand, tends to lack active amino acids, resulting in a comparatively flat and abrasive flavor.
What are the health benefits of matcha? Because Matcha is made by grinding the entire tea leaf into powder, all of those nutrients and benefits regular tea bags carry away stay right in the cup for drinking. This ensures that Matcha drinkers consume a higher concentration of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibers than other teas—in fact, more than 10 times more than even other green teas. More amazingly, there is no other fruit or vegetable in the world that provides more antioxidants than Matcha.
Amino Acids in Matcha Matcha also contains high amounts of L-Theanine—a unique set of natural amino acids found almost exclusively in green tea—as well as the tea caffeine, at one-third the amount found in a cup of coffee. Together, these two substances are thought to help provide increased mental clarity and energy. With virtually zero calories, this makes Matcha the ultimate “energy drink”—without any of the side effects found in the highly sugared, over-caffeinated beverages sold in stores.
How is matcha produced? From growing to milling, where local farmers cultivate it by traditional methods, true matcha is a Japaness tea. Matcha is grown over a shaded canopy. The shade stresses the plants, resulting in more micro/macronutrients being drawn from the soil into the leaves - this is what gives matcha it's unique, dark green color. After being hand picked, the leaves are steamed and then air dried. Next, the leaves are sorted for grade, and then destemmed and deveined. At this stage, the leaves become tencha, the precursor to matcha. The tencha is then ground under granite grinding wheels (these produce less heat and friction, allowing the matcha to retain more nutrients) and becomes matcha. Jade Monk's matcha tea is stone ground to provide the best nutrients to you, the consumer.
Why is matcha tea relatively expensive when compared to other green teas? Due to very strict production rules, Japanese tea, tends to be more expensive than teas produced in other countries. They take pride in their exceptional quality teas.
Matcha is expensive due to the production process - the covered tea plants, hand harvesting, sorting of the matcha tea leaves to ensure only the best leaves are included, and the slow grinding of the leaves by granite grinding wheels (these provide low friction and produces the highest quality matcha with the least degradation of nutrients and antioxidants).
Matcha tea production Matcha has always been specially crafted tea in Japan, expensive and made in limited amounts since its introduction to Japan from China in the 1200’s. The pricing of matcha in Japan is directly related to which leaves are used, where they were grown and which farmers cultivated it. When you look to buy matcha, you’ll find the most expensive ones are the greenest color and the softest in texture. This denotes that only the youngest leaves were used and de-spined (all coarse fibers, i.e. the stems, removed). Matcha is made in relatively limited quantities, and because it is so popular in Japan, relatively little remains for export.
Does matcha have caffeine? Yes. Matcha is a type of green tea, and green tea contains caffeine. When drinking matcha, whole tea leaves are consumed (not just the steep as with other teas), providing 4 to 6 hours of mild steady energy. Matcha is both a stimulant and a relaxant, perfect for focusing on work, meditation, exercise or play.