Everything You Need To Know About Matcha Tea

Matcha tea has become increasingly popular over the last few years, and is renowned for its apparent health benefits: but what is matcha? 

A type of spring grown Japanese green tea, matcha is made by grinding young green tea leaves, which have been shade-grown, into a powder. The shading of the tea bushes takes place for approximately 3 weeks before plucking, hiding the tea from direct sunlight, which slows down the growing process and causes the leaves to turn a dark shade of green. The shading also increases levels of chlorophyll and the production of amino acids and other flavour compounds. To brew this ground powder, it is then combined with hot water, instead of the usual tea-making process of allowing tea leaves to infuse in hot water. 

Matcha is combined with hot water using a bamboo whisk called a chasen which creates a frothy, bright green drink. This means that when you drink matcha, you’re directly ingesting the powdered tea leaves. Matcha has been traditionally used in Japanese tea ceremonies for centuries, but its resurgence in popularity is mainly due to the health benefits associated with this bright green tea.

Matcha contains a higher amount of caffeine than regular green tea, so it will give you a bigger energy boost than other teas. Matcha is reported to contain a high level of antioxidants and a high chlorophyll content, which has been linked to health benefits such as preventing heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes, as well as reducing cholesterol and lowering blood pressure. Due to the shaded growth, there is also a high presence of the amino acid L-theanine, which is purported to increase the activity of alpha waves in the brain leading to reduced stress levels and lower blood pressure, creating a feeling of relaxation. Some schools of thought believe the combination of caffeine and L-theanine in matcha has the added benefit of enabling the drinker to stay focused and bright but also relaxed and calm. With all of these associated health benefits, it’s no wonder that tea drinkers have been rushing to try this trendy brew.

History and brewing methods aside, you might be wondering - more importantly - what does matcha taste like? This can depend on the grade of matcha that you drink. Matcha is generally described as having a slightly vegetal taste with some sweetness and a deep umami flavour. Ceremonial grade matcha (the highest quality) should have little bitterness or astringency, but lower grades of matcha can be bitter - lower quality matcha teas are often culinary grade, developed for cooking, ice cream making and lattes. A good visual guide for the quality of matcha is the colour: you should aim for the brightest, greenest matcha, as this will have the best flavour. 

We hope you’ve learned a little bit more about matcha tea from this blog post. Sign up to the Dorothy’s Teas Tea Club to get a monthly tea subscription through your letterbox - see which teas you get!   

Dorothy Stubley
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