In 1191, the Japanese Zen Buddhist monk Eisai returned from China with a new way to drink green tea. He poured the stone-ground powdered tea into hot water and stirred it together just like today's Matcha then consumed it as a beverage rather than as a medicine. Recreational tea drinking in Japan later spread beyond the nobility to the samurai class. The samurai, sworn protectors of their retaining lords, eventually developed a green tea ritual meant to bring peace and harmony to their often violent lives.
THE PROCESSFour weeks before the annual harvest, the tea plantations are covered with tarp shading, eliminating up to 90% of the natural light. The tea plants compensate for this loss of light by increasing chlorophyll content in their leaves. Only the best hand-picked tea leaves are then steamed, dried and cut to remove veins and stems. The dried leaves are then stored in a freezing unit to ensure consistent quality throughout the year. Then the tea leaves are removed from the freezing unit and slowly ground using granite grinding wheels, yielding one ounce of Matcha per wheel per hour. Once ground, the tea is immediately packed ensure freshness.
HEALTH BENEFITSUnlike regular Green Tea leaves, which are removed when brewed, Matcha leaves are whisked with water and consumed entirely. This ensures that Matcha drinkers consume a higher concentration of green tea antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and fibers. Matcha provides most consumers with a delicate energy βboostβ lasting from 3 to 6 hours.
Matcha also contains high amounts of L-theanines a unique set of natural amino acids found almost exclusively in green tea β as well as tea caffeine theophylline. Together, these substances are thought to help provide increased mental clarity and energy.