What is Matcha?
Matcha is a powdered green tea that is traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony. It is made from the highest grade of Gyokuro Japanese green tea. The finest shade-grown tea buds are plucked, the stems and veins are removed, and the leaves are carefully ground into a fine powder. Grinding can take up to an hour to produce 30 grams of Matcha.
Although most people associate Japan with the powdered green tea called Matcha, this tea has its origin in China dating back to Song Dynasty (980 – 1279). Chinese methods of preparing powdered tea were brought to Japan in 1191 by a Zen monk named Eisai.
Although powdered green tea did not remain popular in China, there is now a global resurgence of Matcha, powdered green tea including in China and the United States. It continues to be important in Japan and an important item at Zen monasteries. The tea has always been highly appreciated by those in the upper echelons of society throughout the centuries.
It is the healthiest green tea you can consume. This is because you consume the whole leaf of the best tencha tea. So if you want the most from your green tea, drink Matcha.
What does Matcha taste like?
Matcha makes a thick frothy brew that some say is an acquired taste. It has a very fresh flavor that is sweet with some astringency.
What is it used for?
In addition to being used for the Japanese tea ceremony, Matcha is also commonly used as an ingredient in ice cream, chocolates, candies, smoothies, lattes, tempuras, and rice or noodle flavoring. Here is one of my favorite recipes using this ancient tea.
Delicious Matcha Pound Cake
1/2 cup butter/room temperature, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 2-3 drops of vanilla extract, 1 cup of all purpose flour, 4 tablespoons Matcha, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt.
1. Preheat your oven to 325F
2. Get your loaf pan ready. Grease it with butter then dust it evenly with flour. This works like a charm.
3. Cream the butter and sugar together
4. Add the milk, eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients – flour, Matcha, baking powder & salt
6. Slowly add the flour mixture to the wet mixture and blend until smooth.
7. Pour the batter into prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes until golden. Remove from oven, allow to sit for about 10 minutes. ENJOY !!
How is Matcha Prepared?
- Using a chashaku (bamboo tea scoop), measure 1 1/2 to 2 scoops of Matcha (1/2 teaspoon) into a chawan (tea bowl).
- Add 1/4 cup of simmering water (160-170 degrees) to chawan.
- Using a chasen (bamboo tea whisk), whisk the matcha and hot water. Hold the chasen vertically and barely touching the bottom of the bowl. Stir slowly until Matcha is dissolved. Then briskly whisk back and forth in the middle of the tea bowl.
- When a light foam has developed, slowly lift the whisk from the center of the bowl and enjoy.
- You can also use a milk frother. A small battery operated frother works great. Specially when you are making a latte. My favorite way to drink Matcha is an a latte made with coconut milk. You can also use a small kitchen whisk.
- Remember the water should be just under boiling. You can heat water until it just begins to bubble or bring to a full boil but dispense into a cold bowl. This will cool the water by 15 or 20 degrees.
Traditionally, a sweet is eaten before drinking Matcha, to compliment Matcha’s flavor.