Matcha (抹茶) is Japanese powdered green tea. Literally it is translated as 'finely sieved tea'. Its production process is very much alike to that of sencha and green tea, but on the last stage it's milled with grinders into really fine powder.
I can’t check whether it is true, but Japanese tea producers say that tea particle after being grounded is 5 microns. For comparison bacterium has got 0.5 - 5 microns dimensions. I think this fact should cancel popular question how tea could be totally dissolved in water.
How to store matcha?
Tea particles dimension determines how quickly it gets oxidized. Matcha is oxidized really immediately, in fact. Fermentation takes little time as well. That is why tea is stored in a closed can in the freezer or at least in the fridge.
If you’ve got closed can with tea and you put it in the freezer, under such conditions tea could be stored for years. But as soon as you’ve opened a can, such tea will not be stored more than half a year even in the freezer. It will not be dangerous for health, but you’ll not be willing to have a cup of such tea.
Types of Matcha
Most of matcha is produced in Uji city, Kyoto, and the biggest tea plant in Uji is Marukyu-Koyamaen. There are a lot of matcha types, and all of them could be classified as it follows:
- Tea for spiritual ceremonies
- Tea as the beverage
- Tea for baking
First category is composed of those tea types, which are used for koicha (dense tea) making in tea schools and in monasteries. Kinrin is the most often used among them
To wind up a spiritual ceremony and under less formal ceremonies usucha is made. For this purpose plainer tea types are used, in most cases it’s Aoarashi. The same tea is used by Japanese people at home for everyday tea ceremonies, but many of them use Kinrin or even tea of higher level for everything
Tea types used not for tea preparation, but for baking or cooking are in the third category.
Full list of Koyamaen matcha teas
- Chigi no Shiro
Seasonal teas from Koyamaen
|Tea name||Time period|
|Harukasumi||Early March - end of April|
|Hatsu Enishi Shin Matcha Gold||Middle-end of May|
|Hatsu Kaori Shin Matcha Silver||End of May|
|Kiyotaki Reiyou Matcha (can be prepared with cold water)||From the middle of June till the end of August|
|Tsubokiri Matcha||Early October – the middle of November|
|Obukucha Gold||Early December – early January|
|Obukucha Silver||Early December – early January|
Surely tea from Uji is the most popular, but tea from Kamakura is known as well. It differs with its even more bitter taste. But nevertheless many people treat it like tea of the higher level
How to prepare matcha tea?
To prepare matcha you will need:
- Chawan - large bowl
- Chasen - tea wisk
- Water 70-80 °C
- Matcha tea
- Chashaku - teaspoon
- Natsume - tea caddy
- Chakin - cloth for cup cleaning, usually made of cotton
- Kensui - vessel for dirty water
- Start with heating the cup and soften the chasen. Pour hot water into the cup, put chasen into it for several seconds. Take chasen out of the cup. Water is poured out to kensui
- Hot cup is cleaned with chakin
- Put tea into the cup. Usually one full and a half chashaku is placed. It’s a little bit more than 1 teaspoon
- Pour water, nearly 50 ml
- Using chasen wisk the tea. It should be done with W-type movements, no circle stirring! At Urasenke school tea is stirred into foam, but at Omotesenke it’s done without foam.
- Your tea is ready!
How matcha shouldn't be prepared
European way of matcha brewing is presented worldwide: put tea in a cup and pour boiling water. Such tea couldn’t be tasty or useful. Matcha should not be brewed. If you wish to have fast brewing, use sencha or Chinese green tea. If you drink matcha for therapy reasons and want to prepare it quickly, it’s better to take a bottle or a shaker filled with cold water and add there two teaspoonful. Shake it and drink for an hour. Ready-made tea should not be in the bottle for long, cause light and contact with oxygen are spoiling it, but during an hour it’s possible to enjoy healthy cool beverage
People with stomach ulcer should not drink matcha. Sometimes matcha could be prohibited by the doctor under some diets. Such people can drink red tea.
In any case before having a cup of matcha tea little sweet is served according to the tradition. I advise you not to breach the tradition and not to drink matcha being hungry.
People with heart problems should not have more than three cups of matcha at once. But the author of this article has got problems with heart and can’t have two espressos per day, any kind of tea I can drink really much without any consequences.
Matcha in cooking
As it was mentioned matcha is used in cooking of many dishes. In Japan ice-cream and chocolate with tea are really popular. Tea could be added practically to any bakery. If while cooking an ordinary biscuit you’ll use rice flour instead of wheat one and add matcha, it’ll be perfect Japanese meal.
But matcha is used not only for sweets. It could be added to rice, meat, fish as well. You can boil rice, roast or cook vegetables or/and shrimps in tempura and, to make dish original and tasty, mix matcha with rock or clean salt (1:1). Powder your dish with this mix doing it with harsh vast movements, and that’s it! An ordinary dish starts tasting better