What is matcha powder?
By: admin On: 14 January 2023
Matcha is a Great Superfood. Discover what is matcha powder and how is it made
Matcha, with its bright green colour and sweet herbal flavour, is widely used as an ingredient beyond just tea. But what is matcha powder, exactly?
What is matcha powder?
Matcha is a traditional ceremonial tea from Japan. Made with green tea which is ground into a fine powder, it is as unique as the famous regions in which it is grown. Harvested several times over the course of a single growing season, it comes in a variety of different grades, all suited for different purposes.
How is matcha powder made?
The tea used to make matcha is always grown in the shade. With a season that begins in spring, and ends in late autumn, the highest grade powder comes from the first harvest or first flush. As the young shoots develop, the plants are kept under shade. This reduces the rate of photosynthesis, concentrating the chlorophyll that gives matcha its bright green colour.
These first leaves grow slowly over the colder months, allowing time for flavour to develop. Lower grade leaves harvested later in the season grow more quickly in the warmer weather and are less flavourful.
The young tender leaves of the first flush are carefully chosen and picked by hand. They are then steamed immediately after harvest to keep the vibrant green colour of the chlorophyll. Unlike green tea, which after steaming is rolled and left to dry, the green leaves for matcha are quickly air dried in a machine.
Once dry, the stems and veins of the leaves are carefully removed, leaving only the tender green leaf for the final product. This is then stoneground, in a granite stone mill. The aim is to create as little friction (and therefore heat) as possible. In this way, all of the delicate flavour is retained.
The different grades of matcha powder
Ceremonial grade matcha powder is the highest grade there is. This is used for the Japanese tea ceremony and is purely for whisking in water.
The best ceremonial grade matcha powder is first flush, and will be labelled as such. It should be rich, aromatic, and sweet, and not at all bitter or astringent. It can come under a variety of names; ours is labelled as supreme matcha.
Second flush tea can also be ceremonial grade but the flavour will be slightly less delicate than the first flush. It is still good for whisking with water, but will also work well in your matcha latte. We label ours as imperial grade matcha.
Culinary grade matcha powder is made from the third, or even the fourth, flush. The tea may not have been harvested by hand, and it is likely to be more coarsely ground than ceremonial grade. It is not inferior, just blended to stand up to other ingredients. It is more bitter and astringent than the higher grades, and possibly less green, but is ideal in baking or cooking where the subtle nuances might be lost.
Find out why matcha has more nutrients than green tea.
Discover our range of quality matcha powder at great value prices.