In this short Matcha Guide, we take a look at your most frequently asked questions when it comes to this delicious Japanese Green Tea powder, including suggestions for Matcha Pairings and  Matcha recipes.

What is Matcha?

Matcha is a type of Japanese green tea made from ‘tencha’ leaves picked early in the spring and autumn harvest. These tea leaves are then graded and sold at auction – the very best of which fetch the highest prices, sought after for their quality and any unique details that have resulted owing to the farmers’ care and methods. Once sold, each batch is steamed, dried and milled to a fine powder – commonly by the use of stone mills capable of getting the fine texture needed for this green tea powder. 

Where is Matcha from? 

While powdered tea originated in China, it was the Japanese who refined the production of Matcha by applying different methods to the growth of the leaves, such as shading the leaves early in the season to encourage the chlorophyll and amino acids that result in that rich green colour, and by steaming the leaves at production stage to elicit a distinct sweetness and umami in the final infusion. 

There are four main Matcha-producing regions in Japan: Uji, Fukuoka, Nishio and Shizouka and each channels a distinct flavour profile as a result of the differing terroir and production method. Matcha from Uji, for example, is made with low temperatures that evoke floral notes and creaminess. In Fukoka, however, a higher temperature is used creating a buttery and nutty profile. 

Cultivar will also play a part in the final flavour. There are a number of different cultivars popular for Matcha and these will often be blended to create a rounded flavour profile. It has become quite common for Matcha brands to market their teas as ‘single origin’ or ‘single cultivar’ though doesn’t necessarily equate to better taste. The best Matcha will depend on the quality of the Matcha and skill applied by the farmer, steaming method and milling. 

Matcha Tools 

When it comes to making Matcha at home, there are some traditional tools that you might like to consider if you want to enjoy making it in an authentic fashion. These are:

A Chawan Bowl 

A simple style of ceramic bowl designed for making Matcha in, and for savouring it from. These bowls originated in China though made their way to Japan in the 1300s. By the 1700s, there was a booming artistic industry for their production. The typical shape is short and wide so that it’s easy to move the whisk in a ‘M’ shape to create a light foam on top of the Matcha.

Shop AVANTCHA Chawan Matcha Bowl

The Chasen Whisk 

Chasen is a type of whisk that originated over 600 years ago, skillfully made from a single piece of bamboo that has been seasoned for up to two years and designed to coax the Matcha into a light, even foam. While these days one might choose to use an electric whisk, there is something tactile and deeply meditative about using a chasen to make your Matcha.

Shop AVANTCHA Chasen Match Whisk

A Chasen Kusenaoshi

To consistently make good Matcha, it’s important to take care of your Chasen whisk by using a ‘Kusenaoshi’ whisk keeper to retain the curved shape.  

Shop AVANTCHA Chasen Kusenaoshi Matcha Whisk Holder

Matcha Guide: How to Make Matcha

There are many ways to make and enjoy Matcha, so it will depend on personal preference. You can have a bit of fun experimenting and exploring here. The traditional way to make Matcha is by using a Chawan Matcha Bowl and Bamboo Whisk and setting aside a little time to do this deliberately and slowly to really savour the experience. You might want to enjoy the health benefits of Matcha quickly though, so you can use a small electric whisk instead, or add it as an ingredient to your smoothies. Matcha can also be shaken in a bottle to enjoy on-the-go or with ice and milk in a cocktail shaker. If you’re drinking it straight up, be sure to choose a high grade for deliciously rich and sweet flavour. As an ingredient with other elements, using a cocktail grade is a good idea – like our Organic Matcha Cocktail Grade Kagoshima.

How to make Hot Matcha Latte >

How to make Iced Matcha Latte >

Matcha Guide: Organic Matcha vs. Non Organic Matcha

While organic doesn’t always mean better, it is down to personal choice if this is a quality you choose to pursue when selecting a tea, or Matcha. Those that choose to drink organic Matcha do so as the whole leaf has been ground into a powder and then ingested as a beverage. If you’re drinking multiple cups a day, you might want to select organic as it is guaranteed pesticide-free. It is common for many small tea farms to run by organic principles though and not be classified as such owing to the cost and duration of accreditation. While non-organic Matcha has been produced for centuries, organic Matcha has only become popular in the West in the last decade and so production is more limited as new kinds of agriculture emerge to support this trend. You might like to taste the difference and see which you prefer to help make the decision about which Matcha is best for you. 

Shop AVANTCHA Organic Ceremonial Grade Matcha  (Fuji)

Shop AVANTCHA Ceremonial Grade Matcha (Yame)

Matcha Guide: How to Choose Matcha

It depends. How would you like to enjoy Matcha? If you want the very best of the best, you want to look for ‘Ceremonial’ Grade Matcha, as this is the highest quality. At AVANTCHA, we have both Organic Ceremonial Grade from Fuji and a Ceremonial Grade from Yame, and we recommend you try them both to see which you prefer, and also to spot the nuances in flavour as a result of the farming-style but also the terroir. You can play with the recipe, too. Start out by following our recommendations, but don’t be afraid to make yours thicker or thinner. The Japanese call thick Matcha ‘Koicha’ and thin Matcha ‘Usucha’. Koicha prepared Matcha is enjoyed as a longer, more intense experience whereas Usucha is for more casual use. Please do enjoy it however you prefer though! Do note, the more Matcha you use, the more caffeine, so perhaps thick Matcha isn’t ideal before bed. 

If you’re enjoying Matcha as an ingredient, it’s best to go for a more affordable grade, like our Organic Cocktail Grade Matcha.

Organic Cocktail Grade Matcha from Kagoshima for Matcha Latte, baking and cocktails.

Ceremonial Matcha from Yame for pure Matcha enjoyment with a small amount of water or cold Matcha Shakes.

Organic Ceremonial Matcha from Fuji for pure Matcha enjoyment with a small amount of water or cold Matcha Shakes.

Matcha Tea and Caffeine 

Matcha has plenty of caffeine given that when drinking it, you are ingesting the whole leaf. The experience of caffeine in Matcha is different to that of coffee though, as Matcha (as with all tea) is high in the amino acid L-theanine which binds with caffeine and allows a slow, steady release into the bloodstream rather than the ‘spike’ felt with coffee. Indeed, this unique quality of Matcha is much the reason for its roots in Japanese Zen Buddhism, allowing monks to gently focus their minds in meditation. 

Matcha Health Benefits 

Matcha is a powerful superfood, packed with antioxidants, chlorophyll, and particularly important vitamins such as magnesium, zinc and vitamin c. Antioxidants will behave differently in every body, but their purpose is to act as our defence agent against arising illnesses. The health benefits that Matcha has on each individual will be different, though it is safe to say that Matcha can be very good for you indeed. 

Matcha Pairing 

Depending on the Matcha you prefer to drink, there will be different profiles that will work in their own way when paired with other foods. Generally speaking, the grassy-green flavours of Matcha can be complemented by sweet and creamy foods like white chocolate or lemony custards, fresh and vibrant fruits like strawberries, or served with Asian cuisine.

Matcha Recipes

Matcha is a wonderful ingredient, as evident from all of the different Matcha sweets you can try in Japan. Matcha recipes are gaining popularity here. We have so many recipes with Matcha. Check them out here.

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