Here's the best comprehensive guide to Matcha Green Teas, the ultimate superfood for you! Cultivation, Grades of Matcha, the Health Benefits of Matcha, how is it different from Green Tea, and Recipes. Read more to know!
Courtesy of the Land of the Rising Sun, the superfood Matcha has gained immense popularity around the world in the recent years as an ultimate ‘Healthy Food’. Owing to the myriad of health-promoting features, we at Vahdam Teas bring you our exclusive range of authentic Japanese Matcha Tea an embodiment of purity, taste, and wholesome goodness.
Japan has always prided itself in preserving a delicate synergy between nature and daily life. A living proof of this is — ‘Satoyama’ or landscapes around Japan where people work and live in harmony with the nature around. Hence Japanese agriculture is a combination of traditional techniques and modern technology, leading to sustainable farming which further nurtures the surrounding ecosystem. This wonderful synergy reflects in Our Matcha Green tea as well. But before you delve into that further, let’s learn everything we need about this superfood — What is Matcha, How is it grown, Types of matcha, health benefits of matcha, and a special matcha recipe!
What is Matcha Green Tea?
Matcha is fine powdered form of a special, shade-grown variety of Japanese green tea. In Japanese, “ma” means powder and “cha” means tea. Whole green tea leaves are stone-ground into a fine powder, offering a delectable flavor and a vibrant green color. While green teas are grown and produced throughout the world, Authentic Matcha is unique to Japan. Known to be one of the most effective sources for antioxidants, one cup of Matcha has as much of antioxidants as 10 cups of green tea!
Owing to the wide range of health benefits, versatility of its culinary use, and its wholesome taste –Matcha green tea has earned a reputed title of being a ‘Super food’.
Where did Matcha Originate From?
The origins of Matcha can be traced all the way back to the Tang Dynasty in China in the 7th and 8th century. The Zen monks of the Tang Dynasty were the first ones to pulverize green tea leaves. Before the process of stone-grinding, green tea leaves were steamed, dried and molded into bricks for easier transportation and trade.
Esai Myoan, a famed Japanese Monk had gone to China to study Buddhism. In the year 1191, he returned to Japan and brought back seeds of the tea plant and also the unique Zen Buddhists technique of making powdered green tea.
Soon, this form of powdered green tea became popular and spread across Zen monasteries in Japan. As the centuries progressed, Matcha become central to Japanese culture and a key part of their common household diets. Over the years, Japanese farmers perfected the art of making Matcha by sun drying and stone grinding. Matcha green tea was also developed by Japanese tea masters and it was readily accepted as a part of formal and informal tea ceremonies. With the advent of science and technology in the last two decades, a significant amount of research revealed the unparalleled goodness of Matcha. This was readily embraced by the West, who came to know ‘Matcha’ as one of secrets of Japanese longevity. Today, Matcha powder is one of the most popular superfoods consumed all over the world with a wide base for culinary matcha preparations as well.
Where is Matcha Green Tea grown?
The best quality Matcha is grown in several prefectures across Japan primarily in the Uji, Shizuoka, Nishio, and Kagoshima. Vahdam Teas sources its Matcha Tea from esteemed plantations based in the cities of Honyama and Kawane, located in the Shizuoka prefecture. Shizuoka is the largest producer of Green Tea in Japan. This picturesque area produces 39,000- 40,000 tons of green tea annually.
Shizuoka is blessed with the perfect climate, the perfect Japanese terrain of stunning mountains, clear streams, coastal beaches, hot springs, and very fertile soil.
Speaking of the ideal temperature, a mild and temperate climate where the temperature remains between 14–16 degrees Celsius brings out the best characteristics of tea, in terms of flavor, quality, and aroma. In addition to this, Shizuoka is in close proximity to Mt. Fuji and other volcanic mountains. The rolling hillsides and the surrounding valley boasts of rich and supremely fertile volcanic soil. Fog rises on the rivers and streams, which covers the surrounding area and the fields. This fog acts as a natural filter and shields the fields from receiving direct sunlight. Hence the tea plants are all shade-grown. Without any sunlight, the plants keep producing chlorophyll, essential nutrients, and minerals in abundance. This is what makes the Shizuoka Green Tea and the consequent Matcha tea, the best in the world.
How is Matcha Grown and Manufactured?
Our partner plantation are based in the cities of Honyama and Kawane, in the Shizuoka prefecture. Thanks to the fact that our partner gardens are located on mountainous slopes, it naturally contributes to a sweeter, creamier taste which is satisfying to the palate.
Combining the prized secrets of age-old traditional processing techniques with cutting-edge, innovative technology, our partner firms produce high-end, culinary grade Matcha green tea. Here’s how Vahdam’s Japanese Matcha Green Tea is grown and manufactured:
CULTIVATION & SHADING
The onset of spring awakens the tea bushes from a state of hibernation and all the accumulated nutrition travels to the new, sprouting tea buds. The tea bushes are then covered with reed & straw screens to block sunlight. Forced to be starved of sunlight, the tea bushes start to sprout more and push more nutrients from its roots to the buds and leaves, right at the top.
This process, followed for a few weeks before harvest, bestows the tea with abundant amounts of nutrients and antioxidants. This is also the key step which differentiates Authentic Japanese Matcha from other green tea powder produce from around the world.
Once the plants have accumulated abundant nutrients being forced to grow in the shade and have matured perfectly, it is time for harvest. In spring and summer, the tea leaves are selectively planted according to the grade of matcha to be produced.
The Processing of Tea
After the tea leaves have been harvested, the collected lot is sent to the factory for processing. The processing starts with laying down the leaves on large conveyor belts which carry the leaves to a steamer. Unlike the processing techniques in many other countries, the tea leaves are ‘deep-steamed’ in Japan. The process of steaming takes place for only 10–20 seconds, but this step has a crucial role in deciding the flavor of the Matcha powder.
Steaming is done for a variety of reasons. The primary reason is to halt the process of oxidation in the tea leaves which preserves the vibrant green color, the nutrients, and the freshness of the tea leaves. Secondly, to remove the grass-like flavor and the conventional bitterness of green tea. Deep steaming the tea leaves also makes them more malleable for pulverization in the latter stages of processing.
The next step after deep-steaming the tea leaves is cooling down the steamed leaves, commonly known as ‘drying’. The deep-steamed leaves are passed through a series of drying columns which are equipped with wind turbines. Once the leaves cool down and detach from each other with the help of a mild flow of air, they are then scattered and laid on a conveyor belt which goes through a dryer, allowing further moisture to dry from the surface of the leaves. This ensures that the leaves are devoid of any moisture and hence ready to be de-veined and de-stemmed in the next step.
De-veining & De-stemming
The dried tea leaves need to be further filtered and cut into smaller pieces before being pulverized into fine matcha powder. The small twigs and veins of the leaves need to be filtered out which can otherwise disrupt the grinding process by sticking to the mortar. In this process, the leaves are cut to a much smaller size; the leaves are de-veined, and small stems are removed.
Grinding or Pulverizing
Matcha Green tea is never stored in powdered form, but it is stored in the form of ‘finalized Tencha’; the final tea which has been filtered, cut, deveined, and dried. This finalized tencha is stored in a temperature-controlled environment till it is pulverized. This ensures freshness of the tea, proper aging of the tea, and also to prevent any oxidation. Upon receiving an order, the finalized tencha is sent for pulverizing or to be ground into fine Matcha powder. The grinding is done by milling the tea using a stone mortar and is then packaged for final consumption.
Types of Matcha
Just like wine, Matcha Green Tea is also sold in a variety of grades which differ in quality or purity levels. There are various parameters which are taken into consideration while deciding the grade of a Matcha. Where is it the tea grown? What cultivation methods were followed? When was the tea harvested, which month? What kind of processing did the tea go through?
All these parameters decide the grade of Matcha and the fair price attached to it.
Broadly, these are 2 grades of Matcha:-
Ceremonial Grade Matcha Green Tea
The Ceremonial grade of Matcha is the purest form of Matcha available and is relatively more expensive. It is made from the youngest tea leaves of the year i.e. from the first harvest, with the stems and veins entirely removed. This grade is mainly used for traditional Japanese tea ceremonies and grown exclusively for drinking purposes.
The ceremonial grade of Matcha has a vibrant green color and has a smoother taste. It has an invigorating fresh and delicate grassy flavor. Hence, it doesn’t need any additives or compliments and should be served straight with hot water.
Culinary Grade Matcha Green Tea
The culinary or cooking grade matcha is typically made from the second harvest of tea leaves. The Culinary grade matcha has a bolder flavor profile and blends well as an ingredient in culinary recipes. Hence, the culinary grade matcha has a much versatile property of being used as a beverage as well as a key ingredient in also culinary dishes. The culinary grade is the more affordable kind and is widely used in Japanese households and restaurants.
The Health Benefits of Matcha
In the last decade, Matcha has been hailed as the ultimate superfood across the world because of its unending list of wholesome health benefits. Although it comes from the same plant ‘Camellia sinensis’, but the tea plant is grown differently for producing Matcha which gives it abundant nutrient profile. For producing matcha, the tea bushes are covered by a sheet or are shade-grown for several weeks before harvest. Keeping these plants starved of sunlight, the plants overproduce chlorophyll and the amino acids. Upon harvest, just the veins and steams are removed and the whole tea is ground to make Matcha, which makes it richer in caffeine and also in antioxidants than typical green tea. There have been various studies that show that consuming Matcha powder regularly significantly improves overall health.
Let’s look at the health benefits of Matcha.
ABUNDANCE OF ANTIOXIDANTS BOOSTS IMMUNITY
Matcha is incredibly rich in a class of compounds known as ‘Catechins’ which are found in tea and are natural antioxidants. Antioxidants help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body and help reduce cell damage which can otherwise cause a host of diseases or infections. In other words, it boosts the body’s immunity and lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
As compared to green tea, Matcha has 137 times more the amount of catechins. An independent study showed that amongst all popular edibles that are rich in antioxidants like gojiberries, pecans, or pomegranates; Matcha green tea has the highest concentration of antioxidants.
The above study was done by experts at Tufts University using a method known as ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). Matcha’s ORAC (antioxidant) rating came out to be 1384 units per gram, as compared against Gojiberries at 253 units and pomegranates at 105. Hence, it is undoubtedly a powerhouse of antioxidants and quite beneficial for us.
IMPROVES COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Since centuries Japanese people have appreciated matcha tea benefits of improving their focus, response time, memory and allied cognitive functions. As compared to green tea, Matcha contains more concentrated amounts of caffeine. A single gram of Matcha tea packs about 35 mg of caffeine. But, matcha also has a compound called ‘L-Theanine’ which alters the side effects of this caffeine. It further promotes alertness and also avoids the sudden, unwanted energy crashes that are quite common otherwise with normal caffeine consumption. Additionally, L-Theanine also promotes a state of relaxation and well-being by positively influencing the cognitive functioning of the brain.
PROMOTES CARDIAC HEALTH
Drinking Matcha green tea can promote better cardiac health and can bring down the risk of heart diseases significantly. A 2011 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition study showed that green tea lowers the level of triglycerides in addition to total and LDL (bad) cholesterol. Matcha green tea may also prevent the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, hence keeping a variety of cardiac diseases at bay. In addition to consuming Matcha every day, one should also be coupling this with a healthy diet and an active lifestyle for best results.
BOOSTS METABOLISM & AIDS WEIGHT LOSS
Introducing Matcha green tea into your regular diet and fitness regime can work wonders! Consuming Matcha helps in boosting your body’s metabolism and its ability to burn fat faster — hence contributing significantly to weight loss programs.
A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition stated that consuming Matcha regularly can increase the body’s rate of burning calories, otherwise known as thermogenesis. People who consumed matcha regularly tend to burn 35%-40% more calories than the normal rate of 8%-10%.
DETOX & SKIN PURIFICATION
Matcha green tea holds the key to a perfect detox for our bodies. In addition to the fact that it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it is a super-efficient detox for the liver. By boosting metabolism, it helps in clearing the gut. Additionally, Matcha when applied topically on the skin works wonders as well.
It is a well-known fact that Matcha is extremely rich in ‘chlorophyll’ which is a powerful detox agent helps in repairing damaged cells and protects the skin. Matcha face masks are especially recommended for people who are suffering with acne as the active compound ECGC reduces sebum production and controls bacterial build up. In addition to this, matcha is also known to stimulate skin cells and offers radiance to the skin.
VAHDAM® Matcha Super Blends Collection
VAHDAM Matcha Green Tea is brought to you by a team with 200 years of rich legacy in Tea. Joining hands with a traditional Japanese farm, our matcha blends are a result of the lineage of over 4 generations each in the Indian and Japanese Tea Industry.
We have endeavored to combine the science of ancient Ayurveda from India and Japan’s ancient superfood Matcha with a range of beneficial spices and botanicals like Turmeric, Moringa, Ashwagandha etc.; bringing premium quality Matcha Super Blends to western markets directly from its native source and without the involvement of any middlemen.
Our exquisite range of delicious Matcha green tea have been curated by a line of expert blenders who have worked tirelessly to craft blends which are a perfect symphony of vibrant yet soothing flavors, unique characteristics, and a long list of matcha benefits.
Let us start you off with two of our favorite and most simple matcha recipes!
Matcha Green Tea Latte
A steaming cup of Matcha Green Tea Latte is a deeply comforting and delicious drink which is incredibly easy to make! With a vegan variant, a matcha latte simply requires a premium culinary grade Matcha powder, milk (vegan/non-vegan) and honey/sugar for sweetness. Here’s how you can make yourself a sumptuous cup of Matcha latte at home.
- Vahdam’s Japanese Matcha Green Tea
- Freshly-filtered cold water.
- Low-fat milk / Almond Milk (Vegan)
- Sugar or Honey.
- Heat 100ml of water to a 90°C — 95°C.
- Take 5g of the Matcha powder and add 30ml of the hot water to it.
- Whisk it vigorously till no lumps are visible.
- Add the remaining 70ml of hot water to it
- Add in 5g of sugar to the mix and stir well till it dissolves completely.
- Add in 100ml of warm milk to the mix and keep stirring simultaneously.
Enjoy your latte!
Matcha Iced Tea
A deeply refreshing, invigorating and utterly delicious iced tea that packs all the goodness of nature! Easy to make, few ingredients and with Vahdam’s flavorful Matcha blends, you can whip up a tumbler of your favorite Matcha Iced Tea for those sweet summer afternoons.
- Vahdam’s Japanese Mint Matcha Green Tea
- Freshly-filtered water.
- Lime slices
- Ice cubes
- Take 200 ml of freshly filtered, oxygen rich water
- Take 2 grams of Vahdam’s Mint Matcha Tea.
- Mix the matcha with 30 ml of water and make a fine paste.
- Add the remaining 170ml of water to this paste and stir well.
- Transfer the contents to a martini shaker and shake vigorously for the matcha to mix well.
- Fill a glass with ice cubes to the brim and pour in your matcha mix.
- Add 2 lime wedges to the glass and enjoy your invigorating and refreshing Mint Matcha Ice Tea.