About two weeks prior to harvest, gyokuro tea plants are shaded from the sun.
Hard-working tea leaves
Matcha's shading process makes the youngest gyokuro tea leaves at the top of the plants work harder to photosynthesize. As a result, chlorophyll, the amino acid l-theanine, and alkaloid caffeine levels in the leaves increase, ultimately producing matcha's unique taste: sweeter, mellower, and more umami than your average green tea.
In May, the youngest, most vibrantly green leaves are hand-picked
At first harvest in early May, only the youngest, most vibrantly green little leaves on the top of the bush are hand-picked to make matcha, and promptly laid to dry. The result of this process is called tencha.
Tencha leaves are then de-stemmed, de-veined, and ground into an incredibly fine, electric green powder: matcha.
“Tea is the ultimate mental and medical remedy and has the ability to make one's life more full and complete. Tea has an extraordinary power to extend someone's life. Everywhere people plant tea, long life will follow”
(Monk Eisai, “The Way of the Tea” (“Kissa Yōjōki”)
The Birth of Matcha
Like all true tea, matcha green tea derives from Camellia Sinensis, a very special plant native to China, whose unique effects on the mind and body have been studied since at least the 10th century BCE.
Matcha - ma meaning “ground” and cha meaning “tea”
From Buddhist monks to Imperial courts
Matcha was first brought to Japan from China by the Zen Buddhist monk Eisai to the Imperial gardens of Kyoto. Tea was already a popular part of everyday life in China, and around the Song dynasty (960-1279), a new method of steaming, finely grinding, and forming tea into small cakes - called dancha - emerged as an easy way to transport tea.
It was these cakes, along with their preparation methods and some prized camellia sinensis seeds, that Eisai presented to the emperor. To this day, the very finest matcha (including Maru Matcha) is still grown near Kyoto, using the same cultivars and blends - replete with romantic chamei, or names - as have been used for hundreds of years.
Harmony (wa), respect (kei), purity (sei), and tranquility (jaku)
The way of the tea
At first reserved for court and temple rituals, and treated as a spiritual meditation aid, matcha soon became an important part of Japanese culture. By the 16th century, an entire philosophy of life and art began to unfold: The chado or Japanese Tea Ceremony was perfected, along with the complex etiquette and aesthetics it espouses.
The Japanese Tea Ceremony was developed - and is still practiced today - as an art to celebrate four main principles: Harmony (wa), respect (kei), purity (sei), and tranquility (jaku).
Scoop, sift, pour, whisk, pour
How to prepare matcha
Matcha is perfect whipped into a jewel-green tea and topped with a thick crema, but we also love to experiment with all the different ways we can use matcha.
Dusted on chocolate, added to pancakes, swirled into cocktails, blended with ice cream or smoothies, or whizzed with milk to make the perfect green tea latte. Hey, we even love our matcha in face masks, where it makes a fantastic pore tightener and skin detoxifier.
The green tea latte
Whisk together 1 tsp. of matcha with 1 1/2 tbsp. of 65°C (149°F) - 80°C (176°F) water until you attain a thick foam. Slowly add 1 cup of warm milk (we prefer rice or oat milk). Sweeten to taste.
The classic matcha
Sieve one tsp. of matcha powder into a bowl. Add 4 tbsp. of 65°C (149°F) - 80°C (176°F) - just hot enough for your kettle to start "roaring" - and, using a bamboo or electrical whisk, froth the matcha in an "M" motion until it attains a thick crema. Add hot water to desired consistency.
What are the differences between “culinary” and “ceremonial matcha”?
"Ceremonial" or "premium" matcha is typically produced during the first matcha harvest in May, and has a sweeter, more delicate flavor, perfect for tea. Because "Ceremonial" tea uses only the youngest tea leaves, its color also tends to be brighter and more electric than culinary matcha.
"Culinary" matcha, meanwhile, tends to be harvested later in the summer (usually in August), which gives it a stronger and more astringent flavor, helping it to stand out in baking and cooking.
What are the trademarks of a high-quality matcha green tea powder?
Matcha is a uniquely Japanese product, and the very best matcha green tea powder is produced just as it has been for several centuries in Japan - particularly in regions such as Uji, near Kyoto. High quality matcha is bright green in color - like a leaf held up to the sun. Matcha is never dull green or brown in color.
Matcha should smell fresh and vegetal; if your matcha smells dusty, it has likely oxidized and is no longer fresh. For this reason, it's important to always store your matcha in a sealed container, safe from light, heat, and moisture.
Maru Matcha is 100% grown in Japan, at family-run tea estates in Uji and Ise. Our tea is harvested and produced traditionally, but our suppliers use the latest storage and packaging technology to ensure that our tea arrives at your door fresh and ready to use.
How much matcha can I consume per day?
400mg of caffeine is considered a safe daily intake of caffeine for healthy adults. There are about 40-60mg of caffeine in the average cup of matcha (the average cup of coffee contains about 163mg). As a result, most matcha lovers enjoy between 1 and 5 cups of matcha green tea per day, and/or between 1 and 5 teaspoons in smoothies, baking, and cooking.
Who should avoid consuming matcha?
Matcha poses no health risks, and healthy adults can consume it with no side effects. Moreover, numerous in-vivo scientific studies have showed unique potential health benefits of matcha green tea powder.
However, those with caffeine sensitivity, including young children and pregnant women, should limit their matcha consumption. If you have any concerns whatsoever about drinking matcha or adding it to baking and cooking, please consult your physician or health care provider.
Does Maru Matcha test its matcha for pesticides and chemical residues?
Absolutely! Each batch of each variety of Maru Matcha is rigorously tested by a leading food analysis laboratory in Germany. Our organic matcha also adheres to the strict industry-leading standards of EU, Japanese, and American organic standards; this means that every aspect of our matcha production process, from soil quality to shipping, is closely monitored and checked regularly.