Matcha Exploration: What is Matcha Green Tea and How Do I Prepare Matcha?

Friday January 22, 2016 by Ari Satinover, Business Development Manager @ Mighty Leaf

Mighty Leaf Matcha Latte with Milkadamia MilkQ: What is Matcha?

A: Matcha is a traditional Japanese green tea that is ground into a very fine powder.  It is traditionally used in the Japanese tea ceremony, but is now also widely used as a food and drink ingredient due to its unique properties and flavor.

 

Q: Where does Matcha come from?

A: Matcha is best from Japan, where it is a centuries-old tradition; today, China also produces lower grades.  Bushes that are reserved for Matcha production are covered in shade during the 4-6 weeks prior to plucking the spring flush.  This changes the chemical composition of the growing leaf as it struggles to capture sunlight.  Mighty Leaf Matcha teas come from specially-shaded bushes grown in a variety of Japan’s districts: Kagoshima, Uji, and Shizuoka.

 

Q: How is Matcha made?

A: Select harvested leaves are steamed and immediately dried to fix their fresh green color and flavor.  The leaves are then mechanically cut and sieved through a variety of techniques to remove all stems and veins from the leaf.  The remaining dried, fleshy parts of the leaf are called Tencha- an intermediate stage at which the tea is set aside until needed for making Matcha.  For the rarest, ceremonial grades the leaf is ground between two hand-hammered granite grinding stones, exactly as has been done for centuries (except the stones are now turned by motors instead of by hand).  The leaf is ground extremely fine to less than 10 microns in size.  It is crucial to avoid heating the leaf so the grinding is kept very slow and cool.  Finest Matcha is ground at the astonishingly slow rate of just 40 grams (1.4 oz.) per hour! For premium down to ordinary grades, the leaf is pulverized in chilled chambers using ball bearings.  This allows for much quicker production and lower cost.

 

Q: What about freshness?

A: Because Matcha is a finely ground green tea, it is very sensitive to time, heat, moisture and air.  Ground Matcha is best within nine months to a year of its production in Japan.  Once the package is opened, Matcha should be consumed within 1 to 2 months.  Careless handling of Matcha (unsealed packages, exposure to heat, etc.) can ruin its fresh nature within a matter of days.

 

Q: Are there any unique nutritional properties to Matcha?

A: Yes.  Unlike brewed tea, where the leaves remain in the teapot and are not consumed, with Matcha you are literally “eating” the tea leaves.  Because of this, Matcha delivers more green tea antioxidants than other teas, plus trace vitamins, minerals and fibers.  Also, because of the shaded growing, Matcha tends to have higher amounts of theanine and theophylline than other teas.

Comparing Matcha Grades at a Tasting in Uji, Japan 

Q: How is Matcha prepared?

A: Traditionally, Matcha powder is placed in a special bowl called Chawan. Hot water is added, and then whipped with a special bamboo whisk to a foamy texture.  Today, many people simply use an electric whisk in a mug, or steam together with milk to make a Matcha Latte.

 

Q: How many qualities of Matcha are there, and what makes them different?Kagoshima Organic Farm -Shaded shrubs to right

A: Matcha can have dozens of grades of quality, and there is no agreed-upon set of standards.  Quality of a Matcha is derived from several factors:

-          Flush (earlier the better, starting April)

-          Processing of the Tencha leaf (skill & care steaming and baking dry)

-          Milling (by granite mills, or higher speed ball bearings)

-          Storage (cold storage, nitrogen environment, oxygen barrier, age)

 

Q: What is the suggested serving portion for Matcha, or a guideline for product to water/milk ratio?

A: Traditional methods will use roughly 1tsp per 6oz water (finished product).  For fun, this page on the Mighty Leaf website has a short production video using a traditional Matcha Chawan, scoop and whisk, resulting in 3+ ounces finished product.

 

Q: What is the SRP for a Matcha based beverage?

A: $3.50-$4.50.  This price will be higher in areas with a higher cost of living (i.e. San Francisco).Stone Milling Machines turn Sencha Green Tea into Matcha

 

Q: What recipes does Mighty Leaf suggest for Matcha? Can you use Mighty Leaf Matcha for blended drinks?

A: Matcha works very well as a beverage base, and is limited only by your creativity!  For all drinks, including blended beverages, the key is always the creation of the Matcha paste (1oz water, 1tsp Matcha).  Following are a few recipe ideas- make them as listed for wonderful iced & hot beverages, or experiment to convert these to delicious blended versions.

Matcha Lemonade

Ingredients:

·         1 tsp Mighty Leaf Organic Café Matcha

·         1 oz. Hot Water

·         6 oz. Organic Lemonade

·         3/4 oz. Organic Blue Agave Sweetener

·         Ice

·         Optional Garnish:  Lemon Wedge, Lemon Twist, and/or Fresh Mint

Method:

1.      In a bowl (Chawan), stir Matcha and water.  Finished consistency should be smooth and slightly less thick than a syrup.

2.      Pour into shaker and add remaining ingredients.

3.      Shake well.

4.  Serve, adding optional garnish if desired.

 

Chocolate Matcha Iced Latte

Ingredients:

·         1 tsp Mighty Leaf Organic Café Matcha

·         1 oz. Hot Water

·         just under 1 tbsp. Ghirardelli Sweet Ground Chocolate and Cocoa

·         1 tbsp. Stirrings Simple Syrup

·         8 oz. 2% Milk

·         Ice

·         Optional garnish: Whipped Cream, Chocolate Shavings  

Method:

1.  In a bowl (Chawan), stir Matcha and water.  Finished consistency should be smooth and slightly less thick than a syrup.

2.  Pour paste into shaker and add remaining ingredients.

3.  Add a garnish and serve.

 

Vanilla Matcha Latte (Hot)

Ingredients:

·         1 tsp Mighty Leaf Organic Café Matcha

·         1 oz. Hot Water

·         8 oz. 2% Milk

·         1 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup  

·         1/2 cap Organic Vanilla Extract

·         Optional garnish: Whipped Cream, Ground Cinnamon

Method:

1.  In a bowl (Chawan), stir Matcha and water.  Finished consistency should be smooth and slightly less thick than a syrup.

2.  Pour paste and remaining ingredients into 10oz frothing/steaming pitcher

Steam, garnish, and serve.

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