Where does Matcha come from?
Matcha (抹茶) is grounded up Japanese green tea leaves. These green tea leaves are specially grown and processed for matcha. In the process, the green tea plants are put through a process called “shade-growth” up to a month before it is harvested. The stems and veins of the green tea plant are also removed in this special process. This process also allows for more caffeine and theanine to be produced in the matcha.
The History of Matcha
The history of matcha goes back to China in the Tang dynasty (618–907). During this time, tea leaves were steamed and formed into tea bricks for trade. The tea during this time was prepared in a way that allowed for the tea to become pulverized and resulted in a sort of tea powder. However, it wasn’t until the Song dynasty (960–1279) that this method of making powdered tea became popular.
How to Traditionally Prepare Matcha
Matcha is prepared in various different ways, this is partly on account of how popular it has become over recent years. However, the traditional way of making matcha is unique. To prepare matcha one must decide if they wish to create thin matcha or thick matcha. Thin matcha is the most common method of making matcha. Matcha is commonly mixed in a matcha bowl with water and whisked together using a bamboo whisk known as a chasen. This tool is used to remove any lumps from the liquid mixture and you will need a whisk stand to use it correctly . To fully prepare matcha there should be no powder remaining, additionally because matcha can be a bit bitter to taste, some people will add a sort of sweetener to alleviate that such as sugar or milk. The main difference between thin and thick matcha tea is how much matcha is used and thick matcha tends to use less water giving a thicker consistency than its thin counterpart.
Matcha green tea: what are the health benefits?
In reality, matcha is more than a tea, it is a super food. It has long been considered by the samurai as a medicine. Besides theine, all teas contain many other beneficial substances: essential oils, tannins, enzymes and phenolic compounds. But matcha tea has a special nutritional quality due to its richness in catechin, an antioxidant that strengthens the immune system, prevents cancer and fights cholesterol.
The Japanese also love it for its action against skin aging and especially against the appearance of wrinkles. Through its antioxidant activity, free radicals are eliminated: the cells are thus rid of what contributes most to their aging and dysfunction. Matcha also helps to live longer and in better health because it fights against oxidation, limiting damage to cell membranes and DNA. Finally, it helps prevent all inflammatory and degenerative diseases (including Alzheimer's).