Matcha is my favorite tea, and that’s saying a lot, considering all of the teas I’ve sampled over the years. I don’t know if it is the intensity of the nutrients and anti-oxidants making it a powerhouse of immunity, or the warm, richly green flavor that is uniquely matcha.
Matcha, also known as 抹茶 , is an incredibly unique type of Japanese green tea. Matcha is created from specially grown tea trees which are completely grown in the shade. These are the same tea leaves used to make gyokuro. However the preparation of Matcha green tea begins many weeks before harvest. The finest tea bushes are covered to prevent direct sunlight from reaching the leaves, and as a result this slows down growth of the tea leaves, turning the leaves a deep shade of green and causes the leaves to produce lots of extra amino acids which makes the resulting tea naturally sweeter.
When picking the tea leaves to create Matcha, only the finest tea buds are hand picked. After the leaves have been harvested, the leaves are laid out flat to dry (unlike rolling the leaves which produces gyokuro), which will cause the leaves to dry and crumble. At this point, the leaves are called tencha (碾茶). To create a Matcha, the tencha leaves are completely de-veined, de-stemmed, and then (traditionally) stone ground into the beautiful bright lime green super-fine powder known as Matcha.
It is VERY important to note that ONLY ground tencha qualifies as Matcha, and while you can find other powdered green teas, such as powdered sencha, available for purchase (or just a generic “powdered green tea) is NOT Matcha and are known in Japan as konacha (粉茶, literally “powder tea”).
The rich amount of amino acids produced by the special growing techniques used in creating Matcha form the beautiful flavor that Matcha carries. Higher grades of Matcha, such as this one from Aiya tea have the most intense natural sweetness, and a richer, deeply vegetal flavor than standard grades of Matcha which are coarser or harvested later in the year. Aiya tea harvests their Matcha early in the season for the highest quality possible.
The most famous matcha-producing regions are Uji in Kyoto, Nishio in Aichi, Shizuoka, and northern Kyūshū. The Premium Matcha from Aiya tea is grown and produced in the world famous Nishio region in Aichi, which produces some of the highest quality Matcha teas grown in the world!
Aiya Tea describes this tea as:
For the true tea connoisseur, Aiya’s premium Matcha provides a level of quality that is typically reserved for high-class Japanese tea ceremonies. While daily consumption is encouraged, this grade is typically reserved for special occasions.
Aiya Tea produces many different varieties and grades of Matcha tea, however this particular Matcha, called their “premium” Matcha is indeed premium, and the highest grade of Matcha available! For the true Matcha enthusiast, traditional tea ceremonies, meditation, or for a true Matcha treat, this is the perfect Matcha to drink!
The dried powder is like the very finest sifted talc, and an indescribable bright green color between lime and emerald green. I don’t recommend smelling the dried powder, as while it has a very pleasant lightly sweet vegetal odor, the fine powder will likely end up in your nose.
The flavor of the prepared Matcha is of the highest quality I have ever tasted. As I mentioned, I am a Matcha fanatic – I LOVE a good Matcha, and the Premium Matcha from Aiya tea is the best Matcha I have ever tasted. It has a sweet, rich mellow and vegetal flavor with no hints of bitterness at all, in fact it is the smoothest Matcha I have tasted. I brewed the Matcha using their instructions, although if you are using the Matcha for a tea ceremony or for meditation, you will already know how to brew Matcha the way you need it. However for those of you wondering how to brew Matcha green tea, here is a guide for you:
How to Make Matcha Powdered Green Tea Guide
* Place a kettle of water on your stove over high heat. As the water is heating, proceed to Step 2.
* Rinse your Japanese tea bowl and bamboo whisk in very hot water. Dry the bowl with a soft towel.
* Scoop the Matcha tea into the bowl. For thin tea, add 3 tsp. per each 1 cup water. For thick tea, add 3 to 6 tsp. per each 1/2-cup water.
* Remove the kettle just before the water boils (be sure to keep the water under the boiling point so that you do not scorch the tea removing important nutrients and subtle flavor nuances.
* Pour the water over the Matcha tea.
* Whisk vigorously with your bamboo whisk until a thick head of froth forms on top of the tea. Drink immediately.
I love making my Matcha into a latte by adding steamed frothed milk and sugar, but there are many ways to prepare Matcha tea, so be sure to experiment to find the Matcha you love. There are also many ways you can use Matcha in recipes. Click here to read Aiya Teas Matcha Recipes page for tons of Matcha recipes!
As I’ve mentioned, this is the most intensely flavorful Matcha I have ever tasted. Aiya Teas also carries the most absolutely beautiful Matcha Gift Sets which you can see pictured to the right. They include the bowl color and style of your choice (they carry Deep Soil, Pure White, Black Pearl and my personal favorite, Classic Vidro), and along with a beautiful Matcha bowl, they also include 30 grams of their high grade Matcha, a gorgeous traditional tea scoop and bamboo tea whisk and a 20 minute DVD video on Matcha! A GREAT value, that I hope to be able to review here soon! Especially with the holidays coming up, I think their Matcha gift sets are the PERFECT gift for the tea lover in your life.
A truly delicious and exceptional Matcha! Perfect for those who truly enjoy Matcha, and the gift sets are a perfect way to introduce yourself to the wonderful world of Matcha if you have not had the opportunity to do so!