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.
Four 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.
Unlike 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 â€œboostâ€ 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 â€“ as well as tea caffeine theophylline. Together, these substances are thought to help provide increased mental clarity and energy.
HOW TO USE
Because Matcha is a pure, natural finely ground powder, its uses as an ingredient are virtually unlimited. Popular uses include green tea ice cream, gelato, smoothies, lattes and chocolates.
MATCHA AND OTHER TEAS.
The three elements that distinguish Matcha from regular green tea in powder form are:
- Flavor: Matcha is sweet and smooth 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 taste.
- Color: Matcha is resiliently emerald green while green tea powder is often yellow-brown. This is because quality Matcha is ground into a fine powder using slow-turning granite grinding wheels. Friction is minimized and tea leaves are not burned in the process, allowing the leaves to retain chlorophyll. In contrast, regular green tea powder is often pulverized using air pressure. The friction caused by this process over-cooks the leaves, rendering them yellow-brown.
- Nutritional Profile: With its high concentration of L-theanine amino acids, Matcha provides most consumers with a delicate energy boost lasting from 3 to 6 hours. However, with green tea powder, the amino acids are comparatively fewer and do not have the same functional properties.
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