(Apologies to the many readers who are beyond this step!). Many people are confused by all the different terms and types of matcha now available to buy online and in shops. In this blog series, I will answer the question “what is Matcha green tea?” and help you discover how to find genuine matcha, how best to store it, and the ways to prepare this vivid green health elixir from Japan. One of the most influential figures when it comes to sado is Sen no Rikyu (1522 ~ 1591). There’s even, In order to be considered ‘tea’, the leaf must come from the, plant. The Yame region is so special not only because of the growing conditions but also its rare and nearly extinct, traditional technique of shading the plants before harvest. Nominations for “Best of Awards” For World Tea Expo 2020. You can also find micro-milled sencha known as, , or if you go to a sushi restaurant you will almost certainly see, (powdered tea), that’s usually served at the end of a meal. It’s the same with fine wine which takes on particular flavors and subtleties based on a region, the characteristics of its soil, steepness of the hillside, and orientation to the sun. It is not made from, But in the case of matcha, it’s milled from, The Yame region is so special not only because of the growing conditions but also its rare and nearly extinct, traditional technique of shading the plants before harvest. With progress in production and processing, for example by Soen Nagatani who is responsible for the now famous Uji matcha, the precious green tea powder became available to the Japanese public and while still being closely connected to the tea ceremony, matcha became more than a noble, ceremonial beverage for the noble and wealthy. No other plant produces tea and certainly won’t have the superfood health benefits of matcha or any other green tea. Tokyo Weather: 7-day Forecast for Tokyo and Japan (+What to Wear! Precious matcha demands a perfect place for cultivation. The plant that the leaves were from turned out to be a tea bush. ), Discover Aizu, Japan’s Samurai Region: Sake, Cuisine, and Cultural Heritage a Day Trip Away From Tokyo. This ritualized and focused way of making and drinking matcha had spread to Japanese nobles and samurai by the 16th century, who often employed tea masters to take part in the art of tea. *For matcha tea’s definition and types, production, preparation, and snacks and drinks, please scroll to the bottom of this article. Following the Shennong legend, the history of tea can be traced back to 2737 BC, the year in which the mythical emperor discovered tea. By the 15th century, the consumption of matcha had become infused with the philosophies of Zen Buddhism – sado (茶道), the Way of Tea or simply the tea ceremony, was born. She has studied two methods of tea ceremony, both Urasenke and lesser known Yabunouchi, which has direct lineage to Sen-no Rikyu (known as the father of the tea ceremony), and is the school of practice for samurai. Holly Helt, an American, grew up in Japan and has been drinking Japanese tea since the age of three. An, is made with herbs or other plant extracts. From a hot cup of creamy latte that is enjoyed in the café just around the corner to the expensive, high-grade tea powder sold in organic grocery stores all across the Western world, we are no strangers to the term “matcha” anymore. Sen no Rikyu’s philosophy and teachings about the tea ceremony are the foundation for three major iemoto (家元, head houses) of sado: the Omote-senke, Ura-senke, and Mushakoji-senke. You might argue that your cup of peppermint tea — which said it was ‘tea’ on the box — is in fact tea, but it’s not…it is an, is not a proper tea either, though often mislabeled as such – particularly on cafe and restaurant menus. As opposed to the United States or Europe, for example, where matcha sweets are still somewhat of a rarity, Japan can look back on a century-long history with matcha. Most people in Japan and elsewhere easily recognize matcha from Uji in Kyoto Prefecture — which is the most famous area due to its history as the birthplace of the tea ceremony — as well as how the region has branded itself. You might argue that your cup of peppermint tea — which said it was ‘tea’ on the box — is in fact tea, but it’s not…it is an infusion or a tisane. Other foods containing umami include some cheeses, aged meats, certain mushrooms, miso, dashi, truffles, and more…. Designed by Elegant Themes | Powered by WordPress, In a nutshell, matcha green tea or simply matcha (sometimes spelled, ), is a very specific and distinct Japanese tea, made from intensively cultivated and processed tea leaves, called, , that are micro-milled into a vivid green powder with particles finer than smoke. Next month I will explain how matcha is produced…but if you can’t wait that long and want to dive straight in and try whisking a bowl of this vivid and delicious health elixir, you can find matcha from Yame at www.chikitea.com. One of his most famous sentences regarding the tea ceremony, specifically regarding the equipment that is used for it, is: "Though you wipe your hands and brush off the dust and dirt from the vessels, what is the use of all this fuss if the heart is still impure?". Shading is vital to the cultivation because the leaf is altered when it struggles for light, therefore delivering maximum antioxidants and theanine as well as incredible umami and a backend lingering sweetness. Much has been lost in translation when it comes to what matcha really is and all the various claims of health benefits that surround it. Exploring the World of Japanese Bars. Imagine a tea farm in Yame Kyushu, high up in the misty mountains where the stars shine brightly at night. While it cannot be proven whether the legend has actually taken place like that, it can be said that tea as a beverage has a history of around 4,000 years. In a nutshell, matcha green tea or simply matcha (sometimes spelled maccha), is a very specific and distinct Japanese tea, made from intensively cultivated and processed tea leaves, called tencha, that are micro-milled into a vivid green powder with particles finer than smoke. In the 9th century, the famous Buddhist scholars Saicho and Kukai are believed to have brought the first tea seeds to Japan from excursions to China, while another monk called Eichu is often credited with making green tea popular among Japanese royalty. The very first sentence of Eisai’s book states the following: "Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more full and complete." To make harvested tea easy to transport and to shield it from rot, steamed and then dried tea leaves were ground into a powder which was then pressed into bricks. Matcha: Understanding Japan’s Powdered Green Tea, Recommended articles for first-time visitors to Japan, Matcha: How Powdered Green Tea is Produced, Matcha: the Preparation of Japan’s Green Tea Powder. Today, matcha is enjoyed for all kinds of occasions, casual as well as formal, from PET-bottles as well as from intricate tea bowls. Many people outside of Japan have heard of the tea ceremony and matcha’s role in that, but few understand the meaning behind the ritual, the importance of the quality of the matcha, and the complexity associated with its cultivation and processing. There’s even milled hojicha roasted green tea (also spelled houjicha). It is not made from camellia sinensis leaves. Popular Things to See and Do in Yamagata Prefecture - Japan's Land of Snow Monsters, Japanese Foods List: 16 Crazy Tasty Japanese Tohoku Region Dishes You've Never Heard of, Kyoto Souvenirs: 5 Popular Souvenir Shops and Gifts Along Arashiyama Shopping Street.