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Place of Origin:
Zhejiang, China (Mainland)
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Matcha is powdered or ground tea. This is the well-known powdery green tea of the Japanese Tea Ceremony (Chano-yu). Maccha is regarded as a ‘heavy’ green tea by the Japanese, but in fact it can be prepared as a strong (koicha) or weak tea (usucha) depending on the way it is made.
Quite often the best maccha is used for Chano-yu, and the bitter end to the tea ceremony shocks the uninitiated who attend such gatherings. Usucha is very easy to make, simply add hot water and stir, to give a kind of ‘instant’ tea. No prior knowledge of Chano-yu is needed.
Matcha has similar origins to gyokuro, i.e. an early season, high grade, shade-grown tea. After steaming the maccha leaf is comprehensively stone ground to a light and fine green powder. The tea is rich in amino acids, vitamins, and minerals and high in caffeine and catechin antioxidants (the latter being a consequence of the very small particle size of the processed leaf). The highest grades of maccha have more sweetness and deeper flavour than the coarser teas of later harvests.
The most famous matcha-producing region is Nishio in Aichi (on the main island of Honshu). This tea is specifically referred to as Nishiocha. Good ceremony teas are very hard to find outside Japan.