Matcha Tea – The Tea that’s on everyone’s lips
It’s National Hot Tea Month and I don’t think we can have a discussion about tea without highlighting the hottest tea trend right now Matcha green tea.
Matcha is a powdered green tea grown in Japan and used in the famous Japanese tea ceremony. It is also made in small quantities in other countries such as China and Vietnam, although tea producers in these countries use a different leaf than in Japan.
Today this lovely tea is consumed in a variety of ways. It is prepared in the traditional manner, made into lattes and other beverages and is added to smoothies, cakes, cookies and more as an ingredient in baking.
Matcha is grown in the same way as Gyokuro tea. When new shoots on the tea bush produce two or three leaves, the plants are shaded from the sun for approximately 3 weeks. Once picked the leaves are withered, steamed, cooled and dried but they are not rolled like other teas. After drying, the veins and stems of the flat leaf are removed (this tea is called tencha) before being ground with stone mills into a fine powder (matcha).
This production method was introduced to Japan in the 12th century as a method copied from Chinese producers. While the Chinese later largely abandoned this production method, the Japanese took the production and the art of serving the prepared tea to new heights of ritual. The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, called chanoyu, evolved over time to become the formal version we still see practiced in Japanese tea houses today.
Japanese Tea Ceremony Preparations
There are actually two different styles of the tea ceremony, an elaborate one and a more modest version. In the formal, longer version, one thick cup of tea (koicha) is passed from one guest to the next. This is prepared with a tea scoop (called a chashaku) which is used to measure the correct amount of tea into the tea bowl (chawan). The water is added to the chawan and stirred with the chashaku until a smooth consistency is reached. In the shorter version, a thin tea (usucha) is prepared for each guest. This is made by using the chashaku to measure the tea into the chawan then the water is added and the tea is beaten with a bamboo whisk (chasen) into a smooth, frothy drink.
In the New Tastes in Green Tea book, by Mutsuko Tokunaga, she explains the etiquette of drinking matcha. “There is a saying in Japan that if you drink matcha sitting in a formal posture – that is, with your back straight- the pleasure of your experience will double.” It seems that your enjoyment will also increase if you follow the simple rules of etiquette. Hold the tea bowl in your left hand. Place your right hand palm lightly along the side of the bowl. When serving to a guest, the bowl should be turned clockwise so the main design on the bowl is facing the guest. “Before drinking, the bowl should be rotated in two small clockwise turns, so as not to drink from the front of the bowl. Traditionally the tea is drunk in exactly three and a half sips.”
This bright emerald green tea powder completely dissolves in tea, which makes it quite nutritious as well as tasty.
To make Usucha (thin, mild matcha – the standard way): Sift matcha for a mellow flavor and smooth texture. Place 2 chashaku or 1 tsp of sifted matcha into the chawan (bowl). Pour 70 ml (2.37 fl. oz.) of hot (175º or less ) water in the chawan. Use the chasen (bamboo whisk) to mix matcha into a delicious frothy brew. Rapidly whisk until a fine foam appears on the surface, which means the tea is smooth and ready to drink.
To make Koicha (thick, strong matcha – the formal tea ceremony): Place 4 chashaku or 2 tsp. of sifted matcha into the chawan. Pour 50ml (1.70 fl. oz.) of hot water into the chawan and whisk with the chasen. Koicha is not frothy like Usucha.
Matcha is available in ceremonial grades as well as culinary grades. The culinary grade is a less expensive way to use matcha in your culinary recipes.
Matcha is highly perishable so it is usually sold in sealed cans or packages. We recommend storing it in the refrigerator.
Green teas contain catechins, caffeine, amino acids (theanine), saponins, y-Aminobutyric acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin B2, Vitamin E, Folic Acid, fluoride and minerals. Matcha, since it is powdered and consumed as a whole leaf, retains all the nutritional benefits of the leaf and is reputed to have more antioxidants than other green teas.
Take your recipes one step further when you cook/bake with Matcha green tea to create healthy, bold looking, delicious recipes! See our pinterest page for exciting recipes such as: cookies, cakes, candies, ice cream, cupcakes, waffles & pancakes, lattes, smoothies and more!
We have delicious recipes on our site for:
MANGO MATCHA SMOOTHIE
1 tsp flavored Matcha (Vanilla, Blueberry or Raspberry)
1 1/2 cups frozen mango chunks
1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
1 cup soymilk, coconut milk, or low-fat milk (your choice)
Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth. Delicious!
4 tsp flavored Matcha (Vanilla, Blueberry or Raspberry)
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup cream
In a small metal bowl add the matcha, milk and cream. Whisk vigorously. Cover and freeze. Remove from the freezer, chop it up and blend in a food processor. Scoop and serve!
MATCHA TEA LEMON SQUARES
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tsp Matcha, green tea powder
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp flour
a pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the butter into the flour, confectioners’ sugar and matcha tea and press into a 9-inch square pan. Bake for 20 minutes or until light brown. Combine the topping ingredients. When the bottom is done, and still hot, pour the topping over it and continue baking for about 25 minutes.
BERRY MATCHA SMOOTHIE
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 cup low-fat Vanilla Yogurt
2 tsps. Matcha, green tea powder
6 ice cubes
1/2 cup almond milk
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 glasses.
Matcha is used in cooking/baking because of its strong green tea taste and its color. If you ground any other green tea into a powder yourself in a spice grinder and added it to your recipes, the color would be green until the dish sat in the air for a little while. Oxidation will take over and the green color will slowly turn brown. Since the Matcha green tea has been processed to retain its color and benefits, the bright green color will stay in all your recipes.
There’s no limit to the recipes you can create with this wonderful tea. It’s gorgeous, nutritious and down-right delicious!
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