What is Matcha?
Matcha is simply finely powdered green tea. It's produced by drying, steaming and grinding tea leaves.
Matcha 抹茶 is rooted in Japanese culture, first brought over from China by the Japanese Zen Buddhist monk, Myoan Eisai, when drinking powdered green tea became popular in the 12th century.
The earliest form of matcha can be traced back to the 7th century in China, where green tea leaves were packed tightly to form tea bricks. They were brewed by roasting the bricks into powder, before mixing the green tea powder into hot water.
In addition to being a medicinal tea in both China and Japan, matcha became the foundation for the art of the Japanese tea ceremony, known as Sado 茶道, or 'Way of Tea', where matcha is prepared by a host and presented to guests in a choreographic ritual. The Way of Tea is a ritual intended to highlight the beauty and harmony between tea, art, nature, organic materials and people. The four basic principles of the tea ceremony were formed by the Zen Master, Sen no Rikyu, which are: harmony, respect, purity and tranquility.
Over the centuries, methods of matcha production have been refined and perfected by tea artisans in Japan, including the introduction of matcha's essential shade growing process to produce its richness in colour, flavour and nutrients.
The Green Goddess of Superfoods
Because matcha is consumed as a powder form of green tea, you get the full antioxidant content of whole green tea leaves, compared to a fraction from regular green tea, where the leaves are steeped in hot water before being discarded.
In other words, drinking one cup of matcha is about the same as drinking 10 cups of loose leaf or bagged green tea—with up to 137 times more antioxidants.
In addition to being one of the richest sources of antioxidants in the world, more than broccoli, spinach and blueberries, matcha also contains an abundance of chlorophyll, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals to naturally support health, beauty and vitality.
Matcha and Mindfulness
At the core of the Japanese tea ceremony is the Zen philosophy of oneness with nature—the practice of living in the here and now and appreciating the beauty and simplicity of the present moment. Zen Buddhist monks drank matcha as an aid for long periods of meditation, to not only sustain their energy levels but to keep their minds clear and focused. Research has since discovered this is thanks to the interaction between caffeine and L-theanine in matcha, which results in a slow release of caffeine into the body and a calm state of alertness and energy—think of it as 'zenergy'.
Did you know? Japan is home to the most centenarians—people who've reached the age of 100 years and beyond—in the world. The population's longevity is owed to not only their healthy, low-fat diet but their regular consumption of green tea, particularly matcha.
Grades of Matcha
Learn the differences between matcha grades and quality.