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The Matcha

What is Matcha?

Matcha, like all teas, comes from the shrub called Camellia Sinensis. Basically, it is green tea in powder form, but it is not the same green tea that you use in infusions. Its particularity comes from its culture.

Indeed, the tea plants used to produce matcha continue their growth in the shade 21 days before picking. This technique allows the leaves, deprived of direct light during this period (only 5% light), to produce more amino acids (including L-theanine*) and chlorophyll.

The carefully selected leaves are then picked. After plucking, in order to prevent the leaves from oxidizing and fermenting, they are immediately taken to evaporation (thanks to this, the tea keeps its bright green color, its fresh aroma and its nutritional values). They are then steamed and slowly cooked until they become"tencha" tea, an unrefined and nutrient-rich tea. Then the stems and veins of the leaves are removed, leaving only the leaf blades. The only thing left to do is to grind the leaf blades very finely with a grindstone, before storing the powder obtained to preserve the nutritional values of the matcha.

Good to know! A full hour of grinding will be necessary to obtain only 30 g of matcha.

*L-theanine plays an important role, it is the amino acid responsible for the umami taste in tea. It is created in the roots of the shrub, and then spreads to the leaves. But, in full sunlight, it turns into catechin, which brings bitterness. It is therefore necessary to prevent as much light as possible from penetrating the leaves so that the tea has a sweet taste, called unami.

Where is Matcha grown?

Matcha is grown in Japan, its cultivation is even considered an art! The Uji and Nishio regions of Japan are the two main places where matcha is grown, Uji being one of the oldest tea growing areas in Japan. Another place called Kyushu Island also produces matcha, but Uji matcha is considered to be of the best quality. Two rivers flow through this area and even though it rains very often during the year, the fertile soil is perfectly draining. Due to the diversity of the terrain, the mist often rises above the fields. This prevents frosts, which are the biggest enemy in tea growing.

The 5 different grades

In the trade, there are 5 different grades to classify matcha, ranging from grade A called Culinary to grade AAAAA called Prestige, and giving you indications on the quality of the tea. However, there is no official classification, which allows different brands to use different grades according to their desires.

1 - Grade A "Culinary

Called "Cooking Grade" or "Kitchen Grade", it is generally made from the lowest leaves and/or from the second harvest. It is a matcha whose color is dull green, almond, or yellowish. Concerning its taste, it is generally more bitter, with little or noUmami*. It is thus perfect to perfume and color the culinary preparations. However, you won't get all the health and detox qualities of matcha tea.

* Umami is a Japanese term that generally translates to "savory taste". It is one of the five basic flavors along with sweet, sour, bitter and salty.

2 - AA "Coffee" or "Blending Grade

Ideal for the preparation of cold drinks, such as smoothies or cocktails, but also for hot drinks such as matcha lattés. This grade is mostly used in Anglo-Saxon countries, where matcha has become a common product. Its taste is quite intense and a little bitter. You will appreciate it more when mixed with something else, like a vegetable milk.

3 - AAA "Premium" grade

Sometimes called "Classic Grade", it is a matcha that can be consumed every day, prepared in the traditional way. A little less expensive than the ceremonial grade matcha, it is however of good quality and its taste is pleasant enough to be drunk without sugar or milk. You can also use it for your cosmetic preparations!

4 - AAAA "Ceremony" grade

This is THE traditional matcha tea par excellence, the one used for the Japanese tea ceremony (called Cha No Yu which literally means "water for tea"). It is made from the best quality tea leaves from the first harvest, and traditionally ground by a stone grinder. It offers all the qualities of matcha tea: bright green color, very present umami, little or no bitterness, and of course, all the nutritional and antioxidant qualities of matcha tea.

5 - Grade AAAAA "Prestige" or "Ultra Premium

The names may vary depending on the brand. You will find on the market matcha of very high quality, often in small quantities, but which offers a taste experience far beyond the matcha of ceremony. The price has no limit, and can be two to three times more expensive. On the other hand, this matcha tea has absolutely no bitterness, and develops unique, velvety and almost sweet flavors, with a very strong umami (which is a sign of quality for the Japanese).

Our Matcha powder

How to prepare Matcha?

As mentioned before, matcha is an incredibly versatile tea, which can be consumed hot or cold, and also adds very well in cooking.

We will explain how to prepare matcha in the traditional way to consume it as a hot drink.

For this, you will need:

The steps are then short and very simple:

First, preheat your bowl by filling it to about 1/3 of its capacity with hot water, and dip only the blades of the whisk into it. Once the bowl is hot enough, empty the water and dry it.

  1. Take 2 spoonfuls or about 1 gr of matcha with the chashaku and pour them in the sieve above the bowl to sieve your powder well. You will avoid lumps during the emulsion.
  2. Pour about 70ml of hot water (between 65 and 75 degrees ideally) into the bowl.
  3. Whisk the matcha by holding your bowl with one hand until you get a well emulsified foam. Once your matcha is frothy, it's ready to drink!

Tip: You can use an electric whisk for step 3.

Accessories for preparing matcha

The best tea for your health!

The matcha is full of nutrients. It is considered the superhero of tea because it has so many virtues for your body.

And this is also due to the way it is consumed. The fact that you ingest the powder brings you all the benefits of the plant. Unlike other teas where the leaves are discarded after brewing, there are no leftovers with matcha. You mix the nutritive powder with water and ingest the whole leaf.

The boost effect is guaranteed!

And yes, matcha is said to be a long term energy drink, as it gives you energy slowly throughout the day, but it will also help you stay calm, alert and focused, just like yerba mate. Japanese students consume a lot of it during exams, or like Buddhist monks during their meditation sessions.

From a nutritional point of view, matcha is 10 times richer than a classic green tea. And we also love its versatility! Since it is in powder form, it can easily be added in cooking!

A stimulated brain

L-theanine, an amino acid present in matcha, helps improve learning abilities, concentration and immune system function. And if you choose a premium matcha, the leaves having grown for a long time in the shade, it will contain more L-theanine(see Japanese study 1992).

Energy for longer

Like all green teas, matcha contains caffeine and L-theanine. The combination of the two would slow down the diffusion of energy, which guarantees that you will be alert and concentrated longer during the day!(see numerous studies)

A healthier skin

The polyphenols present in green tea inhibit skin damage caused by UV rays, and they help keep your skin young and beautiful (see University of Alabama researchers)

A natural calorie burner

Many studies have shown the effect of green tea on thermogenesis, which is the body's ability to burn calories, as well as on fat oxidation during physical effort. Nothing is proven yet, but slimming supplements often have green tea extracts in their components.

Matcha ready to drink ToroMatcha

Sources: book"Teas" by Louise Cheadle and Nick Kilby published by Dunod and"Tea sommelier" by François-Xavier Delmas and Mathias Minet published by Chêne.

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